On Tuesday, millions of progressives across the 50 United States and the District of Columbia will head to the polls to cast their votes for
the most liberal candidate Barack Obama. We are voting this way because we know that the economic policies of Mitt Romney and the Republican Party won’t do anything for anyone except wealthy few who look down on the rest of us from their Hamptons mansions. We also know that the party’s social stances are bad for women, bad for minorities, bad for the LGBT community, and basically, bad for anyone except white Christian men.
If all that isn’t enough to get you sufficiently fired up to cast your ballot (assuming you havn’t already) and proudly don your “I Voted!” sticker, then load this playlist into your mp3 player of choice and let Neil Young and Ani DiFranco move you to stand up for the 47%.
Prelude: Mercedes Benz by Janis Joplin
This simple ditty pretty much speaks for itself as a slam against American consumer culture. At least you’d think it would, but it seems that someone in the marketing department over at Mercedes didn’t quite get the joke.
1. Rockin in the Free World by Neil Young
I love Neil Young. Love, love, love, LOVE! His weird falsetto and raw guitar style and simple, yet meaningful lyrics, earn him a high position in my pantheon of Rock Gods.
Unfortnuately, this is another one of those songs that gets misconstrued. People seem to hear the hook, “Keep on rockin’ in the free world!” and go “YEAH! USA! USA! USA!” While missing the part that says,
We got department stores and toilet paper
Got styrofoam boxes for the ozone layer
Got a man of the people, says keep hope alive
Got fuel to burn, got roads to drive.
2. Oh, Freedom! By Pete Seeger
Pete Seeger, one of the founding members of the mid-20th century folk revival, believed that music was a vital tool for encouraging social change. He wrote and recorded dozens of protest songs, but this very simple chorus is my favorite.
In this live recording, Segeer stops to explain that “In Albany, Georgia, the chief of police is Chief Prichitt.” Before going on to sing “No more Prichitt! No more Prichitt!” To make the song a little more current for myself, I always sing to myself “No more Arpaio!” in that place.
3. The Good Book by Tim Minchin
Tim Minchin is a musical satirist beloved in the Atheist and Skeptic community. He’s got dozens of hilarious songs poking fun at religion, pseudo-science, the Catholic Church’s child molestation cover-up (Warning: clicking on any of these links can be harmful to the health of the easily-offended). This song is about the absurdity of using the Bible as a guide to morality.
4. The Times They are A-Changin’ by Bob Dylan
I know. Predictable. The thing is this song was written in 1964 as an anthem for the social upheaval that was taking place at that time; but it is still so relevant today. To all those who are clinging to out-dated ideas about gender roles, what it means to be “patriotic,” what is a “family,” I say to you, “the old road is rapidly fading. Please get out of the new one if you can’t lend a hand, cause the times they are a-changin’!”
5. Ain’t it Enough? by Old Crow Medecine Show
I heard this song for the first time about a year and a half ago when OCMS was a guest on A Prairie Home Companion. The simple lyrics about living in peace with your fellow humans and being content, even thrilled, by the so-called “little things” which, if you ask me are actually big things: “Late in the evening, feeling the wind blow tall in the treetops, warm in the sun.”
6. To the Teeth by Ani DiFranco
Recorded shortly after the 1999 Columbine High School massacre, this song by the feminist folk icon takes aim at the big money behind the politics of gun rights in America with raw lyrics like, “In the time it takes this cultural death wish to run its course, they’re gonna make a pretty penny, and then they’re all going to hell.”
7. Ohio by Neil Young
Did I mention that I love Neil Young? This classic is about more than just the Kent State Massacre, it’s about people in positions of power using violence in order to maintain that power.
8. This Land is Your Land by Woody Guthrie
This iconic song has been the subject of all kinds of analysis as to its Marxist roots, but frankly, what it says to me is that this beautiful country ought to be shared by Native Americans, by Whites, by Blacks, and by Immigrants who come here from all over the world to make a better life for themselves. “This land was made for you and me.”
9. Big Yellow Taxi by Joni Mitchell
This classic has become an anthem for Environmentalists. It’s lyrics prophecise a world where we “take all the trees and put ’em in a tree museum, and we charge the people a dollar and a half just to see ’em.”
10. A Change is Gonna Come by Sam Cooke
A song of hope from the depths of the Civil Rights Movement, this song laments the struggles of African Americans in the first half of the 20th century. Of course, the struggle continues, but don’t worry Sam, a change is still gonna come!