Guitarwaze Picks: Top 10 Revolutionary Songs
This year has been something else. There really has been a sense of changing times, a new world, stirring unrest, people waking up, people aching for freedom of many kinds!
It feels as though the time is ripe for a revolution. All kinds of revolutions seem to be stirring beneath the surface, some already exploding, some still finding their way to the surface. But we feel that big big changes are in the air.
So we've been in the mood for those songs that spark revolution, that speak of revolution, that express protest and sow seeds of change.
It's not an easy task, because there are so many to choose from, but we have put together a list of some of our favourites:
1. Talking About a Revolution - Tracy Chapman
Tracy Chapman has written numerous songs that express her beliefs and disappointments in the political system in the US and this song speaks of the under appreciated working class and how one day they will rise and claim justice. The words that describe the struggle to a melancholy tune with an uplifting powerful chorus that you can't help but be swept into a hopeful mood of change.
2. Revolution - The Beatles
This song became one of the Beatle's signature tracks. It was inspired by the global student demonstrations of 1968, supporting young revolutionaries in raising their voices against "traditionalism" and demanding for leaders to shape up and hear the voices of the young generation.
3. Hasta Siempre - Carlos Puebla
A song written by Cuban composer Carlos Puebla, as an ode to the revolutionary "commandante Che Guevara". An inspirational figure, who after travelling South America and seeing the suffering and hunger of the people, became a key figure of the Cuban revolution and one of the greatest revolutionaries of all time. Who doesn't know his iconic stylised face, which has become a popular symbol of rebellion. The song has some fantastic guitar playing, including great solos, so it simply had to be one of Guitarwaze's favourites in this list.
4. Blowing in the Wind - Bob Dylan
While Bob Dylan apparently said this wasn't "a protest song because he doesn't write protest songs", it is in our opinion one that sowed the seed for revolutionary change. Sam Cooke said it could have easily been about racial injustice. Peter, Paul & Mary, the American folk group, performed this song in 1963 at the March on Washington, an event famously known for Martin Luther King's "I had a dream" speech. So if this isn't a revolutionary song, we don't know what is.
5. Imagine - John Lennon & Yoko Ono
We purposely added Yoko Ono because she really was one of the song writers of this song, as John Lennon admitted only a few days before he was murdered. He used a gentle tune to the words, believing in this approach to be most effective to touch the hearts of millions. We all know the song. We all know that it takes you to places in your heart and mind, which are full of beautiful wildflower meadows. The words and tunes form an energy in which all things, that cause division in this world, disappear and we are free to live in peace and harmony. So yes, most definitely a song to create a spark for change!
6. Another Brick in the Wall Pt. 2 - Pink Floyd
Another Brick in the Wall is a 3 part title of which part 2 is the famous protest song against rigid education. Roger Waters brings across that general education is basically just creating more and more 'bricks in the wall' to stop mental liberty. Attacking the education system in this way is a protest against the system as a whole and this was best demonstrated when South African school children were fed up with inferior education during the Apartheid regime and stood up chanting the chorus. It held the top of the charts and was an anti regime anthem at the time. The South African government then banned the song from being played. Where best to revolutionise a broken system than in the education system of our children.
7. Gimme Hope Jo'anna - Eddie Grant
To continue with another tune that was banned by the South African Apartheid regime we chose this well known song. A very uplifting sounding dance tune, Jo'anna is really the personification of the city of Johannesburg and written in honour of Nelson Mandela and an anti Apartheid song. It may a bit bizarre that it is a really fun song that sounds more like a party tune, but the power that coming together in celebration of certain values holds, is one that should not be underestimated.
8. Master's of War - Bob Dylan
Yes, we chose a second of this man. Remember when he says he doesn't write protest songs? That was before this one. It's not just an anti-war song. It is a protest against the whole military industrial complex, in which he says it as it is: That the people in power, who are the ones orchestrating wars and destructions are the ones sitting safely in the comfort of their homes, while the rest suffer the consequences. Dylan justly is one of the most celebrated poets of our time.
9. Redemption Song - Bob Marley & The Wailers
This song is a revolutionary song of the spirit. It is inspired by civil rights campaigners and racial injustices, but as a spiritual man he refers to the fact that the mind can be free even if the body is not. It became an anthem for people of all colours, believing in mental slavery being the state of humanity and encouraging freedom of mind to change the status quo of injustices around the world.
10. Earth Song - Michael Jackson
Lastly, we chose this song, in protest for the protection of all of humanity's one and only mother - our Planet Earth. The most famous and powerful environmentalist song every written. The lyrics include words about the pain that humanity has created through political warfare but is more profoundly a hymn about the wider destruction of the planet. Written in the mid 1990s, it is more relevant than ever and needs to be heard again, loud and clear!
Listen to these artists, hear their words, let them sink in! Music is powerful, we know that. But who knows, maybe it will be the spark that changes the world!