In making my choices I’ve tried to avoid songs that have already appeared on this blog at some point in the past. So that has ruled out ‘Bring It Down’ by the Redskins, ‘Ill Manors’ by Plan B and many others. I have also resisted the temptation to post the most specifically-targeted protest song ever and also the most hilariously misguided.
I was convinced I had also posted this track but no, so here as my final choice is ‘Television: Drug Of The Nation’ by The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy. Effectively a vehicle for Michael Franti, they recorded just the one album pack full of political commentary. I will let Franti explain the context for the track at the start of the video, but it seems particularly relevant today. The leader of the most powerful nation on earth was elected on the basis of his credentials as host of a TV reality show and is now reliant on the presenters of ‘Fox and Friends’ to set his agenda each day.
As this is the final day a big thanks to my fellow travellers Andy, Roy, Ian, Anne and Gerard for making this what – for me anyway – has been the best and most illuminating of our five annual ‘Summer Specials’.
Later this week I will post a spotify playlist of the near 60 songs and artists we have posted, plus a YouTube playlist.
Enjoy the rest of the summer.
Over to Roy:
For my final choice, there was only really one (very obvious) place to finish and that is with the ultimate call to arms, from arguably the ultimate protest singer.
“Took The Children Away”.
My number one song is also the biography of Archie Roach, an indigenous singer/song-writer born in regional Victoria. In one of the most shameful acts of Australian white settlement, Archie and his sisters were taken from their families at a very young age and placed in the “enlightened” care of a Salvation Army orphanage. Following this experience, which was also shared at the time by many other Aboriginal children, he endured unpleasant foster homes before landing with a caring white family in inner-city Melbourne. Despite their love, Archie’s sense of dispossession eventually made him leave his adoptive family to search for his birth parents. This period saw him suffer through years of homelessness & alcoholism until he met Ruby Hunter, another Aboriginal from the Stolen Generation. She would provide Archie great support, becoming his muse and eventually wife. At the urging of Ruby and supportive musicians like Paul Kelly, he released his masterpiece album “Charcoal Lane” in 1990 from which the tune is drawn.
The song’s lyrics succinctly summarise the ignorance and horror of the then common practice of placing Aboriginal children in the care of white folk:
“The welfare and the policeman
Said you’ve got to understand
We’ll give them what you can’t give
Teach them how to really live.
Teach them how to live they said
Humiliated them instead
You took the children away
The children away
Breaking their mothers heart
Tearing us all apart
Took them away”
It was my good fortune to see Archie live at the Sydney Opera House last year. Along with “Took the Children Away”, he played all of his most important songs & finished with an encore of “Walking Into Doors”, his song decrying domestic abuse. The entire set was a truly emotional experience, borne of heartfelt protest, that moved me to tears. Archie’s health is not great right now and I suspect the opportunity to see him perform will be increasingly limited. If he plays at a venue near you any time soon, buy a ticket.
PS In the Style of “Spinal Tap”, I have an 11th nomination which has been added to Andy’s selection on day 8. It was initially going to be my number one choice, but Archie’s life story is more worthy. Thanks also to Richard & other bloggers for letting me be part of your summer celebration. While I will miss the daily introduction to new artists and/or memories of favourite tunes, I am certain my productivity at work will improve now that the festival of protest is over.
I’m on a rest day today, so shall be slightly earlier this time and also, I’ve always had this in mind as my final contribution.
This track is nearly 50 years old but still sounds as fresh and relevant today.
From King Crimson’s 1969 definitive progressive rock debut album ‘In the Court of The Crimson King’ – here’s an absolute gem among the album’s other less readily accessible ones.
Not the original version on the album ( which for me, unfortunately has the vocals too low in the mix ) but with a video including scenes from the 2009 documentary ‘Home’, which highlighted how the eco-balance of the planet is being destroyed. The song and video prove to be a great match.
The bass player and singer was Greg Lake – who passed away after battling cancer last December – and the debut album turned out to be his only album with the band, as he left to form Emerson, Lake & Palmer.
He explained: ” ‘Epitaph’ is basically a song about looking with confusion upon a world gone mad.”
It’s as good as any way to describe the world as it is today too.
Between the iron gates of fate
The seeds of time were sown
And watered by the deeds of those
Who know and who are known;
Knowledge is a deadly friend
When no one sets the rules
The fate of all mankind I see
Is in the hands of fools
Thanks so much for hosting the protest festival! As always, I’ve gleaned way more new music than I’ve been able to contribute (Faithless may be my favorite previously unknown band). I’ve enjoyed discussing the countdown with my various ringers and intellectualizing all the various forms and topics that fit under the big PROTEST umbrella. Richard, I’m simply blown away by “Television: Drug of A Nation.” I love Michael Franti and this is brand new to me. Drop the mike. And Ian, the Archie Roach song is utterly heartbreaking. My Day 1 considerations seem like real navel-gazers in comparison. But I wanted to go out with a generational, screaming, F-U anthem, something akin to the Beastie Boys, “Fight for Your Right (to Party)” or Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” I decided to keep it personal, here’s Ma-Ma-My generation’s middle finger. (And Keith’s second to last performance too!) Thanks fellas — this was a lot of fun!!
Apologies, I’ve been away over the weekend and only got back last night. Before I get on to my final selection, may I just say what an unexpected bonus it is to see “Epitaph” on the list – Gerard, you really have impressed this particular KC fan by including it – well done!
Right, for those of you who know me well, you will not be surprised to learn that my last entry comes from my favourite band. Curiously, this started out as a B-side, as frontman, Andy Partridge, thought it was one of the weaker songs that he’d written in the sessions which would become the “Skylarking” album. The song gets its title from the “Dear God” book of children’s letters to God, which Andy had seen as sick exploitation of kids. He had concluded that there was no God and therefore the idea of a child’s letter to God questioning his existence might have a poignant irony.
Little did he realise the impact the song would have when the track was played on American radio. As he says, “it did us a lot of good, although it upset a few people”. This is an understatement! A radio station in Florida was threatened with firebombing for playing the track. Andy was deluged with hate mail from “Christians” and a student in an American college held the principal at knife point, demanding the song be played over the school PA. Thankfully, nobody was hurt.
Thanks in part to the subject matter, along with producer, Todd Rundgren’s, insistence that he could “do something with it” the song single-handedly re-established XTC in America. I hope it doesn’t cause you to anything you might regret…