Ten Protest Songs for the Occupy Phoenix and Occupy Wall Street Protesters

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Johnny Paycheck
The most common accusation of the Occupy protests has been that those gathered don't have one main voice; a streamlined, focused goal. It's a fair criticism, but it's a little difficult when you've been screwed over from every direction to pin down exactly what you want change. 

At the center of it all is corporate greed, and bands and musicians have been tackling the subject for decades. It just goes to show that it's an ongoing problem and something to be dealt with. Now. 

These songs go out to the Occupy Phoenix and Occupy Wall Street protesters. May the message through the decades guide your warranted anger toward a positive goal.

Bob Dylan - "Masters of War"

Dylan has plenty of simplistic ditties that pack a punch. Consider "Tombstone Blues" and "Subterranean Homesick Blues" a part of this list, too. But "Masters of War" shows Dylan at the peak of his righteous anger. 

Lyrics that incite action: "And I hope that you die, and your death'll come soon/I will follow your casket in the pale afternoon/And I'll watch while you're lowered down to your deathbed/And I'll stand over your grave 'til I'm sure that you're dead."



Elliott Smith - "Junk Bond Trader"

Elliott Smith's catalog was mainly comprised of introspective, sad stuff, but occasionally he'd venture out to fight battles for the greater good. 

Lyrics that incite action: "A stick man flashing a fine-lined smile/Junk bond trader trying to sell a sucker a style/Rich man in a poor man's clothes/The permanent installment of the daily dose."



Muse - "Uprising"

OWS is the sort of thing Muse lives for. Just because its a huge band doesn't mean Muse don't care about the little guy. They continue to fight the good fight --lyrically-- album after album.

Lyrics that incite action: "Rise up and take the power back/It's time the fat cats had a heart attack/You know that their time's coming to an end/We have to unify and watch our flag ascend."



The Kinks - "Powerman"

You know how hippies always talk about "the man?" Here "he" is, in song form. 

Lyrics that incite action: "Powerman don't need to fight/Powerman don't need no guns/Powerman got money on his side." 


Radiohead - "Fitter, Happier"

Thom Yorke had a bad case of writer's block, so he just started writing down song themes and ideas. "Fitter, Happier" is what emerged. He has since called it the most upsetting thing he's ever written. 

Lyrics that incite action: All of it. Listen and try not to feel like puppet. 



Johnny Paycheck - "Take This Job and Shove It"

For those who have lost their job in these trying times, an 'ole country song with a ton of heart. 

Lyrics that incite action: "Well, I been working in this factory for now on fifteen years/All this time I watched my woman drownin' in a pool of tears/And I've seen a lot of good folks die who had a lot of bills to pay."



Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young - "Ohio"

Let's not forget that sometimes protesters had to pay higher prices than the mocking of the media. Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young put the Kent State shootings into song. 

Lyrics that incite action: "Gotta get down to it/Soldiers are cutting us down/Should have been done long ago/What if you knew her and found her dead on the ground/How can you run when you know?"



Woody Guthrie - "This Land is Your Land" 

Many have suggested that this simplistic folk song should become our country's National Anthem. After all, it's steeped in true American folk tradition and is completely singable, unlike "The Star Spangled Banner" The only problem is the lost lyrics, which the Smithsonian confirmed as...

Lyrics that incite action: "As I went walking I saw a sign there/And on the sign it said 'No Trespassing'/But on the other side it didn't say nothing/That side was made for you and me.

Nobody living can ever stop me/As I go walking that freedom highway/Nobody living can ever make me turn back/This land was made for you and me.

In the squares of the city/In the shadow of a steeple/By the relief office, I'd seen my people/As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking/Is this land made for you and me?"



Twisted Sister - "We're Not Gonna Take It"

The message is pretty straightforward here. It's the sort of thing you can blare from the bottom of a building that will reach the big wigs at the top. Just sayin'.

Lyrics that incite action: "Oh we're not gonna take it/No, we ain't gonna take it/Oh we're not gonna take it anymore."



Rage Against the Machine - "Testify"

This list just wouldn't be complete without it. 

Lyrics that incite action: "The pipeline is gushing/While here we lie in tombs/While on the corner/The jury's sleepless/We found your weakness/And it's right outside your door."
 

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6 comments
Henk Mutsaers
Henk Mutsaers

Hello,Over the last few years I came across one thing after another witch made me think; “How could this be possible”, “How on earth could people be so evil, so inhuman?” Once you think you know it all there’s a new discovery that’s so obvious seeing the facts and details. I find it strange now a day being called a conspiracy thinker. Don’t the others investigate? Are they perceptual blind? I don’t get it!Whatever others think, not ready to see and discover, simply can’t believe? I decided to take action and wrote this protest song; “Hope Comes In The Dark’. Recording it with top musicians to give it away. Because? Because I, … want to live in a better world. Because I know so many nice people that want the same. Eating real unprocessed healthy foods, enjoying life, being rewarded for they’re work and living in a peaceful world. One after the other government, calling themselves ‘leaders’ didn’t manage to create such a peaceful world. Isn’t it time to unite, stand together and tell them to leave the stage? Are you with me?It all started beginning this year in the Middle East. Now protests are going on in many countries in Europe, America and the rest of the world. Are we going to see the transition, the baldly needed change?Download the song and start discovering.www.hope-comes-in-...

Grub Street Writer
Grub Street Writer

Thanks for the article and suggestions, Christina.  Some I know, others I don't but plan to.  As a capitalist, erstwhile Brooklyn public defender turned professional musician, AND a supporter of the Occupy Wall Street movement, allow me to shamelessly suggest one more:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

Doug Walker
Doug Walker

I BELIEVE THAT MUSIC HAS A LOT TO DO W GETTING PEOPLE TO REALLY FEEL THE MOVEMENT DEEP DOWN INSIDE. WHETHER IT BE SOMEONE WHO IS INVOLVED OR NOT IF THE WORDS ARE GOOD THEY WILL FEEL IT. THIS IS WHY I HAVE MADE A SONG IN CONTRIBUTION TO THE MOVEMENT. WE NEED MORE MUSIC  CHECK IT OUT http://youtu.be/kv18lQMNumk

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