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Neil Young Sees Plenty of Protest Songs to Check Out Online: They Are the Songs of Our Times
Although one of the qualities of a good song is a feeling of being timeless, many of the best songs ever written were written in response to specific events and might even be referred to as "protest songs." Music seems to go along with protesting very well because of its emotional charge, wide reach and and ability to bring people together. The current tumultuous times we live in are no exception and so it seems only obvious that new protest songs are being written to help people get their message out. Indeed that is the case, I know I've found more than a few great ones from various artists already, but there are plenty more out there and now there is a place where they are being collected together to help make a difference... over 2500 songs have been submitted so far... and it's being done with the help of a legendary protest singer: Neil Young.
Maybe I can blame the far reach and tremendous amount of material contained on the Internet for my ignorance, but I was unaware of what has been going on at Neil Young's website (www.neilyoung.com). Tom Hendricks of Musea and Hunkasausus fame (you can read my post about Tom here: Hunkasaurus and His Pet Dog Guitar, MUSEA and the Artists Against Corporate Art) passed the information along to me, and I'm glad he did, because this seems like a musical cause I can get behind... it might even change the world.
The Neil Young site has gathered together some 2500 protest songs, from a wide range of artists, in an effort to help get across what it is like to be living with war in modern times and help music have a meaning and a purpose again. Now, I don't know exactly how much of a had Mr. Young had in coming up with this idea... you never really know I guess... but it certainly seems like just the sort of cause he would support.
Even if it wasn't part of Neil Young's website I just think it's a very cool idea and am glad that someone has put together this kind of site to help these people get their ideas across and help music make a difference. Music can literally change the world and it's the protest songs, the politically charged songs, the songs born of turbulent times and tough questions that often do it most tangibly. Through the power of the Internet they can all come together and have that effect multiplied, expanding the reach and have more of an impact than ever before.
I've recognized a few of the songs on the top 2500 protest song list. I've also checked out more than a few already to see not only what people are writing about, but just what some of these other artists are all about. There's definitely some good songs... powerful songs... worth checking out. Whether we agree 100% with them politically, these songs are very much "the songs of are times" though, and that gives them an added importance. As I mentioned in the opening of this post, songs often do have a timeless quality, but all songs have a context during which they were written. That context is important and adds extra depth to the songwriting and what we can understand about the music. These songs are no different except that the events they are written about are taking place right now and so it's almost like political commentary, or better yet: having your hand on the pulse of the people. These songs are what real people (OK, maybe they're rock stars or celebrities in some cases), are feeling about what is going on in the world right now, and that makes them even more powerful.
You can check out the top 2500 protest songs, "the Songs of Our Times", here: http://www.neilyoung.com/lwwtoday/lwwsongspage.html
Many if not all of them can be listened to online and what's also pretty cool, is that if you know of topical or protest songs that are available online you can submit them by sending and email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the link.
I don't know for sure if these protest songs will make a difference. It will be hard to tell perhaps even for years what ones became a lasting part of history. Whether they do or not though, this project to bring these songs together online and to change the world with music is one I'm happy to support, because I believe music can make a difference, if only we listen.