My favourite protest songs

While I was working as a lecturer, I always really enjoyed the conversations in the vans on the way to and from field sites, and around about the place. There were a couple of times when I experienced what it must be like to be a taxi driver- it was like I wasn’t there. Mostly though, I was entertained with new music, new conversation. On one particularly long trip, we were listening to what I can only really remember as being categorised (in my own mind) as weird shit* I would never normally come across. In it, there was a protest song and the DJ of this collection made an offhand comment about the fact that protest songs always had to have spoken voice over parts in them to make the point. I disagree, and here are my top 5 favourite protest songs, none of which contain any spoken over bits.

*Perhaps eclectic would be more polite- either way, this is not a value judgement. As you can see from my choice, I can hardly throw stones about weird.

It was hard to know where to start but one of the videos is ably introduced by a veteran, so over to you, Terry Wogan.

I am always surprised when I find people outside of South Africa who have heard of Johnny Clegg- but when we saw him in Auckland in 2010 the town hall was packed (and they weren’t all ex-pats either!).

(Please forgive me the 80s video quality here- you get the idea).

More people outside of Australia should have heard of this band, although I do admit that a lot of their songs are rather political and Aussie-centric. This one celebrates the defeat in the 2007 general election of John Howard. It is cutting, but it is very good.

My phone seems to like this song a lot as it seems to come up on the “party shuffle” more than one would naturally expect (I always seem to walk a bit faster while it is on, than I do to say Liam Finn). Still, you won’t hear me complain.


The final (well done for making it!) is an oldie, but a goodie. I remember listening to this on record at the first house I have coherent memories of so I can’t have been older than 5 or 6. We also had it on tape, so listened to it in the car too. I didn’t remember the gorilla, perhaps having a gorilla to feed wasn’t so outlandish to  6 year old?


And there you have it. Turns out I love me a good protest song. You’re welcome 🙂

Edit: the song that sparked this post, cause I know you’re interested, was “underwear goes inside your pants” by lazyboy.


2 thoughts on “My favourite protest songs

    • Hehehe, I liked the Folk Song Army 🙂 I suspect that now I should just let you be my vector into new music since they don’t play much new stuff on the shows i listen to on Radio National. Oh, speaking of not playing on National, Planet Key is a little too accurate to be funny. For the next however many weeks I am going to try not to use my kitchen sink during the day to avoid seeing a big blue poster adorned with our dear leader propped up at the church across the road. More power to Darren Watson.

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