Protest Songs Are Back

Here are three recent, Australian protest songs:

Protest songs are back, hitting our mainstream airwaves.

Could this be an effect of social media?

The 1960’s saw an explosion of protest songs which Marshall McLuhan saw as an effect of the new medium of television, which brought the Vietnam war ‘into our living rooms’ through the TV screen. No longer could we ignore what was happening – television collapsed the distance between nations, we were one human family and this violence affected all of us.

Here are some of the anti-war protest songs from this era:

Just like television, social media have fundamentally changed the way in which we get information: suddenly, we are intimately connected, in real-time, with the day-to-day details of others’ lives.

What I hear in the new wave of songs is protest not on a macro political level like that we saw in the 60’s, but on a micro political level: a call-out of the day-to-day racism, the day-to-day sexism that still pervade our social interactions. These songs challenge us as individuals to do better, to critically reflect on the effect of our own words and actions upon others.

(Here are some more:

Bloom – Jamilla

Give Me My Name Back – Meg Mac

Woman – Clare Bowditch

The list goes on!)

Laura Marling takes the protest song in another direction, as a wake-up call to herself:

I think we are going to see a lot more environmental anthems in this vein – watch this space.

I’ll leave you with one more protest song which recently came to my attention, by the wonderful Joan Baez: