50 Greatest Political Songs?

According to one site, these are the top 50 political songs–from the big bag of genres labeled “pop/rock/folk/country.”

As always, there is much on the list that one could have predicted and much with which one may quibble, even quarrel. First of all, the list seems almost exclusively American. If one considers only British, French, and Jamaican songs (merely three examples to advance the point), this restriction seems preposterous.

Moreover, there are songs like Springsteen’s “Born In the U.S.A.” and Johnny Cash’s song about why he wears black (few real Cash aficionados think much of that song). I sense that Springstreen aficionados would place many other songs above “Born in the U.S.A” in terms of politics, and one need only recall “The Ballad of Ira Hayes” to erase any real consideration of the “why I wear black” song.

At any rate, enjoy quibbling with and otherwise perusing the list.

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One Response to “50 Greatest Political Songs?”

  1. wildbillhaltom Says:

    I upbraid myself for paying attention to such lists, then succumb.

    O. deploys one method: analyze the list by artist to see whether one agrees with the recordings recalled for each artist. Is Johnny Cash’s best listed, or his most (in)famous, or his best-selling, or his most modulated, or … ?

    Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the U. S. A.” is his most familiar protest, perhaps. It is also a protest song appropriated by the re-election campaign of Ronald Reagan. When Springsteen heard what the Reagan campaign had done, he played “Johnny 99” , a song of economic desperation and justice.

    I could probably specify three or four protest songs from “The Ghost of Tom Joad” that I value more than the Rohrschach “Born in the U. S. A.”

    My nominee for a Springsteen protest song would be the far less ambiguous “Seeds.”

    Well a great black river a man had found
    So he put all his money in a hole in the ground
    And sent a big steel arm drivin’ down down down
    Man now I live on the streets of Houston town

    Packed up my wife and kids when winter came along
    And we headed down south with just spit and a song
    But they said “Sorry son it’s gone gone gone”

    Well there’s men hunkered down by the railroad tracks
    The Elkhorn Special blowin’ my hair back
    Tents pitched on the highway in the dirty moonlight
    And I don’t know where I’m gonna sleep tonight

    Parked in the lumberyard freezin’ our asses off
    My kids in the back seat got a graveyard cough
    Well I’m sleepin’ up in front with my wife
    Billy club tappin’ on the windshield in the middle of the night
    Says “Move along man move along”

    Well big limousine long shiny and black
    You don’t look ahead you don’t look back
    How many times can you get up after you’ve been hit?
    Well I swear if I could spare the spit
    I’d lay one on your shiny chrome
    And send you on your way back home
    So if you’re gonna leave your town where the north wind blow
    To go on down where that sweet soda river flow
    Well you better think twice on it Jack
    You’re better off buyin’ a shotgun dead off the rack
    You ain’t gonna find nothin’ down here friend
    Except seeds blowin’ up the highway in the south wind
    Movin’ on movin’ on it’s gone gone it’s all gone


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