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Political / Protest Songs

23 Apr

When I was growing up in the early to mid 1990’s I listened to a diverse selection of music – mainstream rock, some pop (admittedly more when I was thirteen and fourteen), bands / musicians from the 1960’s, 1970’s and the 1980’s such as Pink Floyd, Simon and Garfunkel, Bob Dylan, Billy Joel, The Clash, The Police, Australian Crawl, Midnight Oil, Cold Chisel, Led Zeppelin etc; and a selection of movie soundtracks.I listened to a lot of mainstream commercial radio and did like a lot of mainstream bands and artists that I would be loathe to admit to now.

But combined with that, I also had a great love (taping songs and buying greatest hits albums) and affinity with bands / musicians from other eras. Something spoke to me and I imagined what it had been like to live in that era and what historical and societal changes were taking place at that time. I have had an interest in news, politics and history from an early age. And growing up in my family with its left wing, accepting, hippie-ish leanings, it was no wonder I developed a passion for bands that spoke out, in the form of songs or active protest, against injustice, war, environmental destruction, human and civil rights and conservative politics.

The most significant bands that sung political / protest songs for me were The Clash and Midnight Oil. Other bands such a The Police, Cold Chisel and Goanna sung songs that made reference to political struggles (such as the Troubles in Northern Ireland (Omegaman by The Police) and indigenous rights (Solid Rock by Goanna) or cultural / societal changes (such as returning Vietnam veterans (Khe San by Cold Chisel) and demolition of historic buildings (Astrid Goodbye by Cold Chisel).

So many of The Clash’s songs spoke to my left wing beliefs (and simple belief in civil rights) along with their punk and socialist philosophy. Songs that influenced me, shaped my beliefs, and spoke about political and societal topics include –
– Know Your Rights
– Guns of Brixton
– The Call Up
– Straight to Hell
– Remote Control
– Rock the Casbah

There were many Midnight Oil songs that spoke to me and my political and environmental beliefs. For those that don’t know the band, Midnight Oil was an Australian rock band active from the late 1970’s to the early 2000’s. The band wrote many songs that addressed topics as diverse as indigenous (Australian Aboriginal) rights and injustices, environmental destruction, support for anti-nuclear protest, the plight of asbestos workers, opposition to US military intervention in other country’s affairs, and many more. Songs include –
– Beds Are Burning
– Blue Sky Mining
– US Forces
– Truginini
– Forgotten Years
– Short Memory
– Dreamworld

For me, bands and singers performing songs that protest current political and societal issues speaks volumes to me. These bands and singers are voicing my opinion and shouting it loud and clear to thousands of people. They speak for the people who support these ideas.

Links / References –

20130424-072742.jpg Single Artwork (Source – Wikipedia entry on Know Your Rights)

Joe Strummer – An Inspiration & Idol

23 Apr

While writing some of my recent posts on songs by The Clash – Know Your Rights,Career Opportunities, protest songs – Political / Protest Songs and Margaret Thatcher – Margaret Thatcher’s Death and a bit of Punk Music, I was thinking about Joe Strummer, the lead singer and rhythm guitarist for The Clash. For me he is a great inspiration and an idol. His political beliefs (socialism, anti-racism, anti-war, environmentalism etc) speaks to me in volumes. And the lyrics of The Clash songs resonate with me. He sounds like a great guy who is not afraid to talk / sing / actively protest for things he believes in or disapproves of. Well enough of that gushing……. I am just totally inspired.


(Source – The Legend Joe Strummer Facebook page – http://www.facebook/TLJOESTRUMMER)

Chrissy Amphlett – Sassy Woman of Rock

23 Apr

I was saddened to find out last night that Chrissy Amphlett, the lead singer for the Australian rock band, Divinyls, had passed away. My girl mentioned it to me as soon as I walked in the door.

She was such a sassy lady, a woman with a certain toughness and female sexuality, who stood her own amongst the Australian rock scene in the 1980’s and 1990’s. I loved her look – long bright red hair and provocative (and subversive) short dress (i.e. school uniform) with suspenders and high heels, her distinctive gutsy voice and her wild performance style.

I’ve never actually owned any of the band’s albums, but I had songs such as ‘Pleasure and Pain’ and ‘I Touch Myself’ on cassette tape which I had taped off the radio. In 1991, as twelve year old girl I heard ‘I Touch Myself.’ I loved the song, not specifically because it was a song about masturbation, it just seemed like a cool song, and Chrissy’s voice sounded so cool. But I was no fool, I did know what it was about, it is was kind of naughty and yet empowering. Now days I actually like ‘Pleasure and Pain’ and ‘Science Fiction’ are my favourite songs.

Reading some of the articles and statements from people who knew Chrissy reinforces her presence, female toughness, rock and roll swagger, outspokenness, originality and being a true performer. She was a great Australian rock performer, female role model and an inspiration to me (and I am sure many more Australian women growing up in the early 1990’s).

Links & References –



20130423-072611.jpg (Source – Divinyls’ Facebook page)

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