By Hans Ebert
@HansEbertMusic
Visit: www.hans-ebert.com

The Best Protest Songs In History: 10 Timeless Anthems – U Discover Music

It was the day when, after hijacking the airport, Hong Kong’s somewhat confused and leaderless army of youngish protesters decided to sing “The Star Spangled Banner” while asking the rest of the world for “support”- support from such political “intelligentsia” like Donny Trump, Nancy Pelosi, Marco Rubio, Mitt Romney, Hillary Clinton and, er, Boris Johnson.

This was just one in a long conga line of the “marketing strategies” to gain international support that has gone way off strategy from that first peaceful demonstration in June against the now-shelved-kinda-shelved extradition bill.

What has that one moment in time morphed into? It’s something extremely evil- yes, evil- and eerily like The Joker having gleefully taken over Gotham City with the government and its weak and impotent Chief Executive totally at a loss, not in control, and with no Batman to help her out of the quagmire she created and now finds herself in.

With no real leader, and with Hong Kong never having grown up with, and so, not learning from, the mistakes of the “Woodstock Generation”, the misguided politics of the Vietnam war and what brought about Watergate, the best of intentions have played right into the hands of experienced malevolent dark forces.

Idealism and trying to find a new political voice which a rudderless government refuses to hear have been lost in a mosh pit of irrelevant hashtags, scattered thinking and the cunning hypocrisy of celebrity pro-democracy activists with their own agendas. You know who they are…and who she is.

All this made me think of the role that music and musicians have played going all the way back to the Blues and the folk songs of Woody Guthrie in lending another voice to politics- an independent and often a far more powerful voice to what was going on around them.

Some of these musical messages have become anthems whereas a few have shown up pretty much naive or a shallow knowledge of politics.

For example, there was the sometimes political naïveté of the almost overnight radicalised John Lennon after him receiving his American citizenship. He seemed to be making up for lost time…and desperately wanting to break away from his past of being a clean-cut mop top from Liverpool.

As a Beatle, writing and recording “Revolution” was the first real glimpse of John Lennon, neo political activist. It was a very definite shift from the flower power and hippie dippiedom of “All You Need Is Love”.

With Yoko in tow, the solo John Lennon went out of his way to reinvent himself.

Remember the couple’s Acorns For Peace campaign? I do. I planted an acorn for peace in the Hong Kong Botanical Gardens. Why? To support John and Yoko. To belong to a kinda cause célèbre.

When John Lennon and Yoko Ono Mailed Acorns to World Leaders – Mental Floss

During that time, Lennon might possibly have also been resenting the godlike status of his “friend”, but mainly rival, Bob Dylan, someone associated with the greatest “protest songs” of his generation.

During this time, Lennon hung out in New York with his new art and activist friends, appeared on talk shows and made music with producer Phil Spector and his new band called Elephants Memory.

Paul McCartney, probably seeing the new and more radical political leanings of his erstwhile friend, and not wanting to be seen as being irrelevant, chimed in with the very forgettable “Give Ireland Back To The Irish.”

Of course, John Lennon “redeemed” himself with what has become an anthem of peace. It’s a beautiful, timeless and almost childlike song that says it all.

When music comes from within and is written for all the right reasons, the end result resonates with those who the message is for- and beyond.

Sam Cooke singing how “A Change Is Going To Come” and Marvin Gaye addressing what was going on in the States at that time were very special songs that spoke to many of us not even in America. They hit head, heart and home. Hard. They still do. There’s an honesty to them.

Let’s not also forget that all this took place way before the advent of social media and the various delivery platforms with their tricks of the trade.

Perhaps this is also why and where everything has gone way off track and into an abyss with there being so much of everything and nothing to absorb. This often derails the most noble of causes.

As Dylan might have sung, Constructive, destructive, obstructive, productive and shake, fake, half-baked rattle and hum and bang the drum loudly.

That need to prioritise is too often lost in that feeding frenzy to just belong. These often get lost when everything moves so fast that exit strategies are replaced by not a light at the end of the tunnel, but only the sound of an oncoming train.

What’s noticeably missing in the sudden thunderstorm of chaos, hate, vitriol, protests after protests, climate change, hurricanes, fires, and a global economy in a state of decline has been even ONE song that just might heal the world.

Music and a song that speaks to people with words that rhyme and that magical and undefinable something that hits head, heart and home is more effective than any hashtags, tweets, 24/7 news channels and often oafish comments from self-proclaimed online political pundits- and, of course, those with their own agendas to peddle through the puddle.

As for favourite “protest” songs or songs that simply embraced causes back in the day and still speak to me for various reasons, other than those mentioned above, here are just some of mine.

Yours?

And with that, it’s time to write some timely songs that rock my gypsy soul just like in the days of old.

#Hongkongprotests #Hongkong #protestmovement #protestsongs #music #JohnLennon #PaulMcCartney #Dylan #musicpower #MarvinGaye #SamCooke