Play, Listen, Repeat: 10 Historic Resistance Songs That Changed the World

Songs are highly effective. There’s one thing concerning the marriage of lyrics and music that resonates with individuals. For so long as they’ve existed, songs have constructed group, advised tales, and described feelings. Songs are additionally a instrument for resistance and alter, unifying and galvanizing individuals devoted to a trigger. Here are ten historic resistance songs:

“We Shall Not Be Moved” (unknown)

Various artists

The origin of this music is just not clear, although lyrics could be traced again to the e book of Jeremiah. These lyrics modified through the years. By the 20th century, labor activists adopted it and it grew to become a protest music as an alternative of a spiritual hymn. Artists resembling Pete Seeger recorded variations. The music then grew to become iconic through the Civil Rights Movement.

“Strange Fruit” (1939)

Abel Meeropol

Abel Meeropol wrote the lyrics and music to this haunting music about lynchings. In the 1930s, this violence was widespread, however not talked about. Billie Holiday and Nina Simone recorded very well-known variations. For many, “Strange Fruit’ is the primary vital Civil Rights music.

“This Land is Your Land” (1944)

Woody Guthrie

Folk artist Woody Guthrie wrote this music as a substitute for “God Bless America.” It emphasizes equality. Before writing the music, Guthrie spent years touring the United States, assembly individuals affected by the Great Depression and Dust Bowl. He believed Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America’ was out of touch. “This Land is Your Land” accommodates patriotic sentiments, nevertheless it acknowledges robust actuality.

“A Change Is Gonna Come” (1964)

Sam Cooke

One of probably the most iconic songs of the Civil Rights motion, “A Change is Gonna Come” was added to the Library of Congress in 2007. The lyrics are unhappy, however hopeful, reflecting the battle of black Americans. Cooke wrote the music following an occasion the place a whites-only motel in Louisiana denied him entry. Various publications have included “A Change” on their lists of the best songs ever written.

“We Shall Overcome” (1963)

Pete Seeger

Based on a union music, “We Shall Overcome” entered the mainstream when Pete Seeger recorded it. In the 1960s, it grew to become tied to the Civil Rights Movement. At the March on Washington in 1963, Joan Baez sang the music with 300,000 individuals. It was additionally sung at Dr. King’s funeral. Because it’s so highly effective and well-known, it continues to seem at varied protests.

“The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” (1970)

Gil Scott-Heron

The title from this music was initially a Black Power slogan from the 1960s. It refers to how the white-controlled media doesn’t mirror the instances or modifications that America will undergo. The music is full of popular culture references. It’s been sampled and referenced in lots of hip-hop songs.

“Fortunate Son” (1969)

John Fogerty

A music protesting Vietnam, the “fortunate son” of the title refers to rich, privileged males who have been capable of dodge the draft. It’s continued to face sturdy as an anti-war music and a logo of counter-cultural actions. John Fogerty, the lead singer of Creedence Clearwater Revival, was very offended when he wrote the music. He’s stated it solely took him about 20 minutes to jot down it. In 2013, “Fortunate Son” was added to the National Recording Registry.

“F*** Tha Police (1988)


Originally launched in response to police brutality within the 1980s, this music has endured in reputation. In the wake of the high-profile deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, streams of this N.W.A. music skyrocketed in 2014 and 2015. The music grew to become widespread once more in 2020 following the loss of life of George Floyd and nationwide protests. People write the lyrics on buildings and do-it-yourself indicators.

“Killing in the Name” (1992) 

Rage Against the Machine

This lead single from Rage Against the Machine’s first album got here in sizzling. It’s inconceivable to disregard the sheer energy of the music and uncompromising lyrics about police brutality and institutional racism. It isn’t shy about its stance, instantly linking the police with the KKK with the lyric, “Some of those that work forces as the same that burn crosses.” In 2010, the New Statesman listed it as #12 on their checklist of “Top 20 Political Songs.”

“Do You Hear the People Sing?” (1980)

Claude-Michel Schonberg, Alain Boubil, and Jean-Marc Natel

Featured within the international smash hit musical Les Miserables, this music has a second life as a resistance music. Even although the story of Les Mis is about in a selected time in France, its message resonates around the globe. The musical has been translated into 21 completely different languages. In 2019, giant crowds protesting in Hong Kong sang it. At a faculty meeting, college students started to sing it instead of the Chinese nationwide anthem. “Do You Hear the People Sing?” has appeared at different protests, like in Turkey in 2013 and Ukraine in 2014.

Learn extra about revolutions, uprisings and protest in an internet course.

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