Nation readers take their music seriously! Our recent call for thoughts on the top protest songs ever written generated a torrent of passionate replies — more than 2,600 to date from the four corners of the US and well beyond.
We’re still taking submissions, but early returns indicate strong support, among scores of readers, for six seminal songs vying for consideration for the top slot: Woody Guthrie’s "This Land is Your Land," Florence Reese’s "Which Side Are You On," Bob Dylan’s "Masters of War" and "Blowin’ in the Wind," Barry McGuire’s "Eve of Destruction," and Pete Seeger’s "Where Have All the Flowers Gone."
All timeless classics and deservedly so.
But, our first Nation readers’ list highlighted some slightly more obscure tunes. Now, we’re releasing edition two with hopes of introducing you to at least a few new artists and songs. Enjoy the videos, and check back for more lists coming soon!
Nation Readers’ Top Ten Protest Songs: Edition #2
1. "Mississippi God Damn" by Nina Simone was a 1964 song decrying racial injustice that was so powerful it was actually banned in several southern states, including, unsurprisingly, Mississippi. It was submittied by Laurel Gary of Nellysford, VA.
2. "If I Had A Rocket Launcher" is a song by Bruce Cockburn from his 1984 album Stealing Fire. The song was inspired by Cockburn’s visit, sponsored by OXFAM, to Guatemalan refugee camps in Mexico following the counterinsurgency campaign of dictator Efraín Ríos Montt. Although Cockburn had occasionally touched on politics in his earlier songs, "If I Had a Rocket Launcher" was his first explicitly political song, and earned him a reputation as an outspoken musical activist. It was submitted by Scott Schilling of New Bloomfield, MO.
3. "Deportees" (Plane Wreck at Los Gatos), written by Woody Guthrie and sung here by his son Arlo and Emmylou Harris, told the sad story of a plane crash that killed 34 immigrants being forcibly returned to their home country of Mexico. It was submittied by Steve Schlather of Springfield, Ohio.