Amoeblog

From "Give Peace A Chance" to "Fuck Donald Trump" - Top Ten Protest Songs

Posted by Billyjam, April 11, 2017 02:10pm | Post a Comment

 
"War, what is it good for? Absolutely nothing! Say it again" - Edwin Starr "War" (1970 Motown) *
The above sentiment of Edwin Starr's popular anti-Vietnam protest song was right about war but with one key exception. War, along with other periods of serious social unrest, historically trigger some of the best reactionary art of all schools including music and some of the most powerful protest songs. Even before last Thursday's bombing of Syria and the inevitable future fallout it will cause, the Trump era had already helped kick start the latest renaissance of revolutionary protest music.  Like Edwin Starr's Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong penned 1970 single, recorded during the counterculture era, the latest wave of protest music is a form of artistic expression born out of passion and necessity. Traditionally protest music acts on two primary levels. It's the soundtrack to the actual protest / rebellion / revolution, as well as being as a medium to vent and share feelings of discontent. As well as being a catharsis for its creators offering listeners some sense of relief or bonding, good protest music can also provide a message of hope during historically challenging times. Since the beginning of time history has a habit of repeatedly presenting its citizens challenging times, with war and social injustices being recurring themes.

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In-depth Discussion with Author Denise Sullivan on Her Latest Book, "Keep on Pushing (Black Power Music - From Blues To Hip-Hop)"

Posted by Billyjam, September 17, 2011 04:00pm | Post a Comment
The recently published Keep On Pushing (Black Power Music - From Blues To Hip-Hop) (Lawrence Hill Books/IPG) is the latest book from longtime California music journalist/author Denise Sullivan whose last book was 2004's The White Stripes: Sweethearts of the Blues. This ever-engaging book by the Crawdaddy columnist and self-described "record geek" could as easily be filed under American political history or American music history (she thinks the latter to be more fitting) as it explores how American history of the past numerous decades is so closely intertwined with protest/revolutionary music (from the early blues, through the musical soundtrack of the civil rights movement, up to the role of contemporary hip-hop as voice of protest).

In Keep On Pushing, the "Nor Cal through and through" music writer examines the cultural interchanges of black and white musicians (many Bay Area artists included) and, along the way, takes numerous enlightening tangents uncovering tidbits of musical history not normally unearthed.
This week I caught up with the author, who tomorrow (Sunday, September 18th) will be at  Stories Books & Cafe on 1716 Sunset Blvd from 4pm to 7pm  and next month at both D.G. Wills Books in San Diego and at San Francisco's literary festival LitQuake, for an in-depth discussion on Keep On Pushing and many of the areas it explores.


Amoeblog: Following a book on the White Stripes, how did you decide on the theme of this book next? How long did you work on this book for?
 
Denise Sullivan: It's complicated, which is the exact thing I noted in the White Stripes book when I was writing about them covering "Your Southern Can is Mine" by Blind Willie McTell. Matters of race and the sexes, the Great Migration, what was once called the "American Dream," industry, ingenuity, and the entire great American songbook are of deep interest to me and all are tied up in the White Stripes story. Keep on Pushing is a similar story, only it has a lot more people (many of them black, others are Native American, women, or economically strapped, most all of them are trying to survive America), and music is big part of their toolkit. Specifically though, in the case of both books, it was fine art photography that initially inspired me to launch my investigations: American Ruins by Camilo Jose Vergara, and The Black Panthers by Stephen Shames.

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