Culture

Ditties For Our Times (2)

10. They Stand Alone by Sting. A song dedicated by the former Police frontman to the families of activists and innocent civilians victimized by the tyrannical Pinochet regime in Chile.

11. Mothers of the Disappeared by U2. I was walking home from the office one windy midnight, shaken by the terrible news of another activist’s murder, when this song came to me: “In the wind we hear their laughter / In the rain we see their tears / Hear their heartbeat / We hear their heartbeat…”

12. Bullet The Blue Sky also by U2. A powerful song against America’s imperialist wars. This is a dark song, but has a rather defeatist overtone. Why, for instance, would the very victims of its war run to the arms of America?

13. The Sky Is A Landfill by Jeff Buckley. This, I believe, is Jeff’s first foray into progressive politics in his music, attacking Clinton and his empty promises of economic prosperity. Although known for his poetic imagery, some lines in the song reveal that Buckley was capable of agitprop: “Throw off your shame or be a slave to the system!” and “I have no fear of this machine!

And although Hallelujah is not an overtly political song, I also saw a video clip of his concert where before singing the song he condemned the French government for its nuclear bomb testing in the Bikini Atoll: “This is for all the people who know that the only good place for a nuclear bomb is in the garbage, dismantledThis is for Leonard, wherever you are. And this is for Nina Simone…

14. The Ghost of Tom Joad by Bruce Springsteen. Here is the consummate commercial artist conscienticized by political and social events in his country. He became so involved with progressive and anti-corporatist politics in his latter songs, particularly in 2005’s Devil and Dust album, that many corporations, among them Starbucks, altogether banned his music from their stores and offices. This song’s lyrics is so moving that even when Rage Against The Machine redid the song it retained its powerful poetry evoking the poor’s hunger for justice: “Now Tom said, mom, wherever theres a cop beatin a guy / Wherever a hungry newborn baby cries / Where theres a fight against the blood and hatred in the air / Look for me mom I’ll be there…

15. Your Next Bold Move by Ani Difranco. Ani in her usually angry, angstsy self, singing “”Yes, the left wing was broken long ago / by the slingshot of cointelpro / and now it’s so hard to have faith in anything…”

16. American Idiot by Greenday.

17. Big Yellow Taxi by Joni Mitchell.

18. Not Ready to Make Nice by Dixie Chicks.

To be continued…

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