Protest Songs II
Rock the Casbah
“Rock the Casbah” was released on The Clash’s 1982 album Combat Rock. It became the bands only US hit. The song is written as a protest against Arabic censorship of western music. However, much like “Born in the USA,” its meaning was highjacked without consideration to the words. Conservative politicians began to use “Born in the USA” as a patriotic campaign song. It is not, it is about the frustration of Vietnam veterans.
In the case of “Rock the Casbah,” it was used during the first Gulf war by US Armed Forces Radio during the opening coverage of Operation Desert Storm. The song became an anthem of war. Thus changing the meaning from music to bombs for a lot of listeners.
By order of the prophet―Lyric sample from “Rock the Casbah” by Topper Headon of the Clash
We ban that boogie sound
Degenerate the faithful
With that crazy Casbah sound
But the Bedouin they brought out
The electric camel drum
The local guitar picker
Got his guitar picking thumb
As soon as the Shareef
Had cleared the square
They began to wail
“War Pigs” is an obvious anti-war song by Black Sabbath. It is written as an allegory combining witchcraft and satanic imagery with the evilness of war. Written during the height of the Vietnam War it is a protest against the wealthy who run the world and start wars for profit and fun. However, the band can’t agree whether it is anti-Vietnam or anti-war in general. Bassist Geezer Butler has claimed it to be 100% about the Vietnam War, Ozzy Osbourne doesn’t see it that way. Osbourne has said that the group “knew nothing about Vietnam.” To Osbourne, it is anti-war in general, but then again, that is coming from Ozzy Osbourne.
Generals gathered in their masses―Lyric sample from “War Pigs” by Black Sabbath
Just like witches at black masses
Evil minds that plot destruction
Sorcerers of death’s construction
In the fields, the bodies burnin’
As the war machine keeps turnin’
Death and hatred to mankind
Poisonin’ their brainwashed minds
Oh, Lord, yeah!
The Revolution will not be Televised
Gil Scott-Heron is a musician and writer whose most famous work is the spoken word song “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.” In 1971. As the US Civil Rights movement galvanizes he records this piece as a cutting judgment on a lethargic country. With frustration in his voice, he parodies the importance of the movement with the brainless fluff of TV advertising slogans. However, the references may be lost over the four decades since it was recorded, it is still powerful. It also inspired following generations who started the rap music genre.
The revolution will not be right back after a message―Lyric sample from “The revolution will not be televised” by Gil Scott-Heron
About a white tornado, white lightning, or white people
You will not have to worry about a germ on your Bedroom
a tiger in your tank, or the giant in your toilet bowl
The revolution will not go better with Coke
The revolution will not fight the germs that cause bad breath
The revolution WILL put you in the driver’s seat
The revolution will not be televised