protest songs

Someone was complaining recently about the lack of “modern protest songs”. Certainly, Bob Dylan has more media awareness than all the rest combined, but he didn’t invent the socially-conscious “folk” song, nor was he the pinnacle of the genre. Honestly, he’s a terrific songwriter, but one of the worst performers on earth. I had to agree, though, that the field seems to have dried up. Luckily, I was wrong.

There’s definitely enough to protest, so where are the songwriters? They’re under our radar, apparently because the media machine has already tried selling protest, and they’ve now gone on to something else. But if you get lucky, or are diligent, you’ll find them.

I was happy to be pointed to a really interesting blog recently that features really modern (that is, less than a couple of years old) “protest” songs. So, for example, here’s a protest song: “I Never Said” by The Peasants. It’s written from the point of view of Jesus of Nazareth, disputing what’s being done in His name.

The link comes from Don Anton’s Song of the Day blog. Unitarian Universalists will recognize the song from the day before “I Never Said”, which is the Indigo Girls doing a beautiful version of “This is My Song”.

I doubt any of these will end up in our worship services (“This is My Song” excepted, of course), but I find it important to listen to this stuff even if I’ll never sing it, play it or even listen to it again. We need to know that there are still people out there who pay attention to the world, get angry about it, and are moved to do something. Even if it’s just yelling into a microphone. We do what our talents allow us. But that means if we are motivated, too, we’re not alone. Sing the songs, get out on the street, and make a difference, sisters and brothers!


Be aware, if you follow the series and are of delicate constitution, that the song for Day 17 has a rude expression in the title and lyrics. It’s Lily Allen, so you can substitute this song from the same CD if you prefer. This is a fine song, in any case.

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About liberalreligiongetsloud

Contemporary Music and Worship Director (retired), First Unitarian, Albuquerque NM
This entry was posted in contemporary worship. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to protest songs

  1. StevenRowe says:

    Roy Zimmerman is another “protest” songwriter – although his songs tend to also be funny,

  2. Robin Edgar says:

    Well ‘The Atheist Supremacist’s Song‘ *could* be considered to be something of a comparatively recent protest song, even if it is a parody reworking of Gilbert & Sullivan’s ‘The Major General’s Song’. . .

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