Protest songs on capitalism


This 2011 video from the USA is called Workers Unite! Dropkick Murphys “Which Side Are You On?” Labor Song.

Journalists of British daily The Guardian have made a list of protest songs. All of them are in the English language.

I’ll reproduce some of that list on this blog. Not exactly in the same way as they did. Eg, they have options to listen to songs on Spotify, which is not available in all countries.

And I have added links. And grouped the songs according to themes. The theme of this entry is capitalism.

This Land Is Your Land Woody Guthrie 1944.

It’s not a little ironic that every American schoolchild learns this song, the communist sympathiser’s riposte to the unctuous God Bless America. Guthrie is on a magical realist hike across America’s promised land, endorsing a Native American belief that the land cannot be owned. A little-sung alternate verse makes explicit his disdain for private property; another verse sympathises with the unemployed, making This Land… a secular hymn laced with political dynamite. KE

How Can a Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live? Blind Alfred Reed 1929.

Looking for a soundtrack to economic woes? Reed was a contemporary of Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family and penned this standard, which was later covered by Ry Cooder and Bruce Springsteen. “There was once a time when everything was cheap, but now prices nearly put a man to sleep,” he sang, adding with mordant humour: “When we pay our grocery bill, we just feel like making our will.” CLS

The Internationale Sheffield Socialist Choir 1992.

Originally written as a defiant rallying call in 1871 by Eugène Pottier in response to the crushing of the Paris Commune, its rousing tune was added 17 years later by Pierre de Geyter and it was set to become the international socialist anthem. Translated into hundreds of languages, notable versions include those by Ani DiFranco and Utah Phillips, Carla Bley, Robert Wyatt, Billy Bragg and the suitably stirring Sheffield Socialist Choir. Come the revolution, they won’t be singing “Here we go, here we go, here we go…” CI

In case readers think I have been idle, I have opened a YouTube account and created two playlists named ‘Songs of Struggle’, parts 1 and 2. These are songs with which the workers’ movement can identify: here.

Bruce Springsteen is a very angry man right now if his new album Wrecking Ball is anything to go by. He’s angry at fat cats, bankers and a political system that is destroying the lives, hopes and dreams of the US working class: here.

2 thoughts on “Protest songs on capitalism

  1. Pingback: Iraq war, corporate greed, caused economic crisis | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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