Is it my age? Am I ‘out of touch?’ Do I no longer have my finger on the pulse of a vibrant and anti establishment societal undercurrent, a sub-culture of analysis and proposed insurrection. Was that even ever a thing?
It’s Saturday and I have a relaxed day in mind catching up with my partner and walking the dog, planning a week of working on the house and filling up time with tasks that under normal circumstances would be forever put off for another day. And so I am not going to rant on but I’ll simply get straight to the point.
Where have the protest songs gone?
Without the protest songs how do we ‘big time’ promote an idea? And despite the protest songs, why are we still here, fighting the man and feeling the need to sing some old and new anti establishment tunes? To highlight this I’ll start in the ’60’s and link to one song per decade (of course there are very many more) and wonder at the issues that seemed so key at the time but still are not resolved.
And so where are the anti covid songs, the mass movement of young people raging against uni lockdowns, house arrest, state intervention in our sex life and police intimidation?
There are some, and they are all (it seems) featuring Van Morrison who is manning, almost as a one man band, the barricades in defence of musicians everywhere.
But, the big question is, do protest songs effect change? Our brief listen through history appears to quite clearly sing out loud ‘NO!’ If they did then EXACTLY the same issues would be done and dusted, not swept under the carpet but actually washed and finally hung out to dry.
And music aside, go and read some Titus Livius for some understanding of the entertaining machinations that weft their way through the lives of the Romans and you’ll know that we have learned NOTHING. They are the same problems. Humans it would appear are born to live through the same learning and decision making options that their parents went through, that their grandparents went through. Yes, times do change, geography and populations and technology changes but the basic elements of human conflict remain remarkably similar over decades centuries and millennia.
I believe that we simply do not live long enough. Another few hundred years and we’d actually mature and have a fuller knowledge and understanding of the idiots that as youths we all most certainly are. And we might be able to effect change for all, for better, for mutual benefit.
Individually we are fine. Together in small groups we achieve much. Collectively we can go on to build great things but it is in the collectivisation of our society that an inertia to cut out the rotten develops, an inability to reign in the those with ill intent grows and a groupthink that, led by the few to the detriment of the many, can proliferate. And no protest song has the power to alter human nature.