Music to Fight Evil
seek inspiration from 50 years of protest with Jon Ewing
featuring artists like
Bad Religion, Bruce Springsteen, Billy Bragg, Mavis Staples, Grace Petrie, The Clash, Woody Guthrie, IDLES, She Drew the Gun, Nina Simone, The Specials
Tolerance is good. There should be more of it. And whether you’re from the Left or the Right, don’t be fooled into thinking you have the monopoly on it. But we need to draw a line.
Let’s be clear: tolerance means accepting opinions and beliefs that conflict with your own. It doesn’t mean accepting prejudice in place of evidence, nor injustice in place of equality. And when the opinions and beliefs of others lead to deprivation and suffering – yours or anyone else’s – you don’t have to be tolerant any more. It’s time to rise up and act. The songs in this list shouldn’t have to exist. We should all just get along. Until that happens, seek inspiration from 50 years of protest, by way of a lot of anger and a little love.
4 March 2021A high-speed combination of punk chorus and ska verse, Mustard Plug’s singalong Unite and Fight is just one of a sensational 28 tracks on the Ska Against Racism album compiled by Bad Time Records in 2020 to raise funds for non-profit organisations working to improve education, opportunity and justice for black people in the USA and beyond. With a barrelling momentum and a repudiation of violent action, this uplifting song is a call to arms for those of us committed to disarmament.
8 September 2020
Celebrating the determination of “one hundred thousand teenagers” to take over the streets of London to save their future from calamity, KIDSTRIKE! by novelist and singer songwriter JB Morrison – aka Jim Bob – is taken from the UK Top 40 album Pop Up Jim Bob released in August 2020 and inspired by the real life activism of countless young activists. But the song is run through with a rueful recognition of the singer’s own fading urge to save the world.
28 July 2020
Inspired in part by the fatal shooting in New York of a ten-year-old black boy by a white plain-clothes policeman, the audacious centrepiece of Stevie Wonder’s experimental 1973 album was a seven-and-a-half-minute meditation on the brutality of black America: Living for the City…
1 June 2020
Taken from the third and final album by Seattle band Pretty Girls Make Graves in 2006, Parade is a jubilant marching song for the emancipation of the workers, a chant to the insistent and uplifting rhythm of two drum kits, brought to life by way of a long-lost 20th Century American playwright whose promising career was stymied by pernicious political paranoia…
29 April 2020
Jess Silk’s unpretentious song of hope in a time of hopelessness encourages us to keep up the fight and hold onto each other “and we will mend – and we’ll get there in the end”.
17 March 2020
Bellowed out from the mighty diaphragm of singer Beth Ditto to the chugging riffs of gawky garage guitarist Nathan Howdeshell, Gossip’s Standing in the Way of Control was impossible to avoid in the UK in 2006 and 2007…
25 February 2020
“I’ve been wondering what it’s like to see / This country as my property / And my inheritance as God’s decree,” sings Nashville-based singer-songwriter Declan Kennedy on his upbeat, acoustic, country-folk track Guilty as Anyone, a song about coming to terms with white privilege in contemporary America and learning how to do something useful with the knowledge…
4 February 2020
Three minutes of upbeat skate punk to remind us that democracy is under threat as the rich get richer while the masses are sometimes forced to choose between food and medicine…
28 January 2020
Some protest singers are inspired by a hardship that affects them individually or a universal injustice that affects us all. For Erin O’Keefe and Colin Gilmore, the inspiration for the brooding, melancholic country-folk song Stand For Your Land came from respect…
20 January 2020
In the week of Valentine’s Day 1978, an anthemic and yet shocking protest song on a 4-track live EP sneaked under the radar to become a Top 20 hit in Britain. It was a song in which The Tom Robinson Band shamed a nation with a first-hand account of the abject indignity of being gay in 1970s Britain…