Nowhere does art meet politics with such regularity and with such varied results as in the world of music. To celebrate the upcoming media inundation that is the political season, I built a mixtape with some political songs for y’all.
Fight The Power - Public Enemy
This was one of the first songs I remember being blatantly awesome AND blatantly political.
Video Killed the Radio Star - President of the United States
Well, we like this message. Not a political song, but maybe it will get stuck in your head and then you’ll want to make some videos with us.
Franklin Pierce - The Two Man Gentlemen Bar
This is a pretty funny song about the tragic story of Franklin Pierce, the 14th president of the united States. As a student of History, I find Pierce’s life pretty fascinating. Lots of death and sadness. All his kids died when they were young, his wife was depressed, and he died of the drink. Also, the only president who went to Bowdoin. And arguably one of the worst presidents we ever had. Thanks, New Hampshire.
They Took A Vote And Said No - Sunset Rubdown
One of my favorite recent musical discoveries is Spencer Krug. He also dabbles with a with other projects of other gangs, and is a member of the same cool kids Canadian indie rock family as Frog Eyes, The Handsome Furs, and the most excellent Wolf Parade. But this is actually the song that got me into his work.
Joe Metro - Blue Scholars
A great hip hop scene is happening in Seattle and the Blue Scholars have been at it for a while. It’s not hard to find political hip-hop, but I love the humanity behind these guys. They are extremely political while being about real stories and lives. All their stuff is great, but I like this one in particular
Political World - Bob Dylan
I am one of those unfortunate Dylan fans that will defend almost all of his oeuvre. That brutally absolute fandom is what led me to this song. Again, Dylan has tons of political work, although he might argue that none of it is. But this whole album, Oh Mercy, is a little off the beaten path for even us Dylan-heads. The borderline hip-hop styled delivery of the lyrics, the running riffs, and the building percussion of Political World really get me into my political groove.
Rockin’ in the Free World - Neil Young
This was the first song I ever learned on guitar, and I still love it.
Everybody Here Is A Cloud - Cloud Cult
It’s important to remember that not all politics are about campaigns and votes and old white guys shaking hands. Many bands have very strong stances regarding particular issues. Some bands maybe start their own labels on geothermally powered organic farms. At least, that’s what Craig Minowa and Cloud Cult do. Minowa is a full-time environmental activist who happens to be a terribly talented musician as well. Listen to anything by them, please. This is a band that has a sound, and if you like their sound, like I do, you will love almost everything they do.
American - FM Belfast
Wicked weird pop-ish sort of gang from Iceland. I have been enjoying their stuff a lot lately, and this song is a pretty good example of their style.
What A Friend We Have In Congress - Pete Seeger
You can’t have a list of political songs without Pete Seeger. That’s it. This actually a live recording from a show he did at Bowdoin in 1960. Much cooler than Franklin Pierce. Seeger for president!
Waiting For The Great Leap Forward - Billy Bragg
Because not all political songs are American, and if there were a modern Woody Guthrie his name might be Billy Bragg.