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Protest song

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Protest song

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A protest song is a song intended to protest perceived problems in society such as injustice, racial discrimination, war, globalization, inflation, social inequalities. Protest songs are generally associated with folk music, but in recent times they have come from all genres of music. Such songs become popular during times of social disruption and among social groups.


Folk protest songs occur throughout history, the oldest protest song on record is The Cutty Wren from the peasants revolt of 1381 against feudal oppression. In the American Revolutionary War and in the abolitionist movement of the 19th century many songs came about. During the American Civil War, traditional songs such as "We Shall Overcome" served as protest songs.

In the 20th century, the union movement, the Great Depression, the Vietnam War (see Vietnam War protests), and recently, the war in Iraq spawned protest songs, such as Bob Dylan s "The Times They Are A-Changin'" (1964), Woody Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land" (1940), and more recently, System of a Down's "Toxicity" (2001). The common form during that time, often with acoustic guitar and harmonica, was popularized by the work of Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger in the beginning of the 20th Century and continued into the middle of the century by Phil Ochs, Joan Baez and Bob Dylan.

Neil Young continues the theme in in the 21st Century in his song, "Let's Impeach The President" - a stinging rebuke against President George W. Bush and the War in Iraq, as did Pink with her appeal to Bush in Dear Mr. President.

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This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.