From Edith Piaf to the Clash, every depression has brought about a musical backlash and even forged some of the political movements of generations past. From the singing miners to the ever rebellious punks, music can be a very powerful tool.
As the dust of the recent Conservative budget settles and analysts finish crunching the numbers to find one million families to be worse off and some of the most vulnerable in our society to have had their crutches kicked from under them, I couldn’t help but reminisce about some of the greatest protest songs. Here we examine just seven songs which ring true in today’s recession.
Incubus – Vitamin
“A zombified, somnambulist society. Leaving us as vitamins for the hibernating human animal.”
Message boards have drawn parallels between Brandon Boyd’s lyrics and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. With talk of the ‘somnambulist society’, there could definitely be a case for the song being similar to that of Huxley’s premonitions of an operant conditioned state.
In fact, with strong bias in the media and the ever increasing wealth divide, it does feel as though the lower classes are used as ‘vitamins’ to keep countries afloat and feed the ‘human animal’. The song may also be a call to arms for all those who are asleep to society’s issues, as Incubus try to ‘pry the closed eyes of the sleep machine’.
The Specials – Ghost Town
Despite the pledges to champion start-up businesses, it’s becoming harder for small business owners to compete with larger companies who garner tax breaks and hold producers to ransom. Towns are slowly becoming nothing more than a string of chain restaurants, pawn shops and supermarket express stores. They may not have turned to full ghost towns, but they’re certainly ghoulish places to frequent and with less expendable income, there may not be ‘fighting on the dance-floor’, but support for local bands has defiantly waned.
Carter USM – Sheriff Fat Man
I think Charlie Brooker would be proud of the sarcastic political satyr spouted by carter USM. ‘Jim Bob’ Morrison’s witty and intelligent word-play has long been a favourite of mine and I’ve always chortled whilst I sang along. But when you start to digest the message, you realise that his dictation of the state of modern life is no laughing matter. In a world where politicians are so removed from the harsh realities of life, the Unstoppable Sex Machines of this world must bring us back down to earth with stories of the under-represented trying to make their way in this world, but too often being exploited by the ‘Sheriff Fat Man’.
Pink Floyd – Money
With an 11% tax increase set for politicians while those working in the public sector have seen their pay frozen over the last five years, Dave Gillmore and chums hit the nail on the head:
‘money is the root of all evil today, but if you ask for a rise it’s no surprise that they’re giving none away’.
Rage Against The Machine – Take The Power Back
A band that managed to close Wall Street had to make the list. The occupy movement may be to most a distant memory, but the message still rings true, capitalism is faultering if it hasn’t failed already.
This song may speak of America’s eurocentricity; how closely does that relate to ourselves over in Britain, with many political agendas focusing around the power held by the EU council.
Dire Straits – Telegraph Road
Continuing down the line of faltering capitalism comes Dire Straits with the epic ‘Telegraph Road’.
‘[yes,] and they say we’re gonna have to pay what’s owed, We’re gonna have to reap from some seed that’s been sowed, And the birds up on the wires and the telegraph poles, They can always fly away from this rain and this cold’
The song says it all, from the rise of industry to unemployment and the burden of national debt. Many of my friends have, like the birds, flown away from the rain and the cold; abroad to countries where hard work is still rewarded.
The Who – Young Man Blues (Young man ain’t got nothing in the world these days)
With the living wage being raised, but only for those over the age of 25, Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) being cut and ever soaring tuition fees, it appears that another generation is to fall by the wayside whilst the aged continue to ride a wave that has long since crashed onto the heads of anyone under the age of 30. The Who may have written this song 45 years ago, but it does appear to be a poignant remark even in today’s economic climate.
What do you think of our recession playlist? Let us know in the comments below!