Where Have All the Protest Singers Gone?

Where have all the protest singers gone?

Lately, I seem just as likely to break into a song by Tom Paxton as I am to say something intelligible.  Perhaps it’s just me, but I miss the protest songs and the urban folk singers of the sixties and seventies.  Phil Ochs, Tom Paxton, Eric Anderson and others, who provided music for the protest marches and demonstrations of my past.  Protest singers were big back then.  I saw Phil Ochs twice at Carnegie Hall. 

I think that Tom Paxton often got things right.  If you are worried about bail outs—here’s a stanza and the chorus of Tom Paxton’s “I am changing my name to Chrysler:”

O the price of gold is rising out of sight

And the dollar is in sorry shape tonight

What a dollar used to get us now won’t get a head of lettuce

No the economic forecast isn’t bright

But amidst the clouds I spot a shining ray

I begin to glimpse a new and better way

I’ve devised a plan of action, worked it down to the last fraction

And I’m going into action here today

:                              I am changing my name to “Chrysler”

I am going down to Washington, D.C.

I will tell some power broker `What you did for Iacocca

Would be perfectly acceptable to me!’

I am changing my name to “Chrysler”

I am leaving for that great receiving line

When they hand a million grand out, I’ll be standing with my hand out

Yes sir, I’ll get mine

War in Pakghanistan? How about Paxton’s Lyndon Johnson told the nation:

We go round in helicopters,
Like a bunch of big grasshoppers,
Searching for the Viet Cong in vain.
They left a note that they had gone.
They had to get down to Saigon,
Their government positions to maintain.

Lyndon Johnson told the nation,
“Have no fear of escalation.
I am trying everyone to please.
Though it isn’t really war,
We’re sending fifty thousand more,
To help save Viet nam from Viet Namese.”

Media bothering you?  How about Paxton’s “Daily News:”

John Paul Getty is just plain folks.
The UN charter is a cruel hoax.
How do I know? I read it in the Daily News.
J. Edgar Hoover is the man of the hour,
All he needs is just a little more power.
How do I know? I read it in the Daily News.

Daily News, daily blues,
Pick up a copy any time you choose.
Seven little pennies in the newsboy’s hand,
And you ride right along to never, never land.

Nuclear winter/Global Warming? How about Paxton in “Who’s Garden was This?”

Whose garden was this?
It must have been lovely.
Did it have flowers?
I’ve seen pictures of flowers,
And I’d love to have smelled one.

Whose river was this?
You say it ran freely?
Blue was its color?
I’ve seen blue in some pictures,
And I’d love to have been there.

Ah, tell me again I need to know:
The forest had trees, the meadows were green,
The oceans were blue and birds really flew,
Can you swear that was true?

A few tweaks here and there and these songs are ready to go.  It’s even possible to satirize the satirists.

Consider the Folk Song Army by Tom Lehrer:

We are the folk song army.
Everyone of us cares.
We all hate poverty, war, and injustice,
Unlike the rest of you squares.

There are innocuous folk songs.
Yeah, but we regard ’em with scorn.
The folks who sing ’em have no social conscience.
Why they don’t even care if jimmy crack corn.

If you feel dissatisfaction,
Strum your frustrations away.
Some people may prefer action,
But give me a folk song any old day.

The tune don’t have to be clever,
And it don’t matter if you put a coupla extra syllables into a line.
It sounds more ethnic if it ain’t good english,
And it don’t even gotta rhyme–excuse me–rhyne.

Remember the war against franco?
That’s the kind where each of us belongs.
Though he may have won all the battles,
We had all the good songs.

So join in the folk song army,
Guitars are the weapons we bring
To the fight against poverty, war, and injustice.
Ready! aim! sing!

Who is currently singing songs of protest?  Where is their music being played?

This entry was posted in Humor, sleepless in state college, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Where Have All the Protest Singers Gone?

  1. There are some fascinating closing dates on this article however I don?t know if I see all of them middle to heart. There is some validity however I’ll take hold opinion till I look into it further. Good article , thanks and we would like extra! Added to FeedBurner as properly


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