The mainstream media has spoken: the Arab Spring has come to America, for a Fall Tour of protesting, riots, and tomfoolery galore! But not so fast- protesters might be non-conformist pushers of boundaries, but like any other part of American society, they love a good anthem. Whether you’re plotting your next moves of rebellion in the back of a coffee shop, or maneuvering the streets against the volley of tear gas canisters headed your way, everything is much cooler with a bassy, rebellious soundtrack pumping out of the boombox you’ve just looted. Here are InFlight’s top picks for our Fall 2011 Protesting Playlist. Caution: Some harsh language.
While I may not be of Pete Townshend’s generation, this timeless song of adolescent rebellion certainly applies to the youth of the Occupy movement: “Not trying to cause a big sensation/Just talking about my generation.” Indeed.
The Rolling Stones – “Street Fighting Man”
We at InFlight by no means promote violent protests or response. But unfortunately, someone has to ruin the party and start throwing shoes/rocks/bean bags/Molotov Cocktails. Here’s one for the guy with the trigger finger.
Bob Dylan – “The Times They Are a-Changing”
Even when things get hot, everybody needs to cool down at some point: eat a vegan energy bar, or get in a drum circle. Though most of these ruffians might not know what Bob Dylan did for 60’s counter-culture, anyone can appreciate the pensive poet’s jam. Besides those punks who think Bob Dylan is dead. He’s not. He’s just quiet.
Radiohead – “Paranoid Android”
The paranoia! The unrest! No song can capture the tension and uncomfortable outlook like Radiohead’s masterpiece off of their 1998 album OK Computer: “When I am king, you will be first against the wall/With your opinion being of no consequence at all.” The uneasy dueling acoustic guitars; the intense overdriven guitar riff; the intriguing come-down vocal section; heck, it’s the modern times defined in a song.
Black Flag – “Rise Above”
“WE ARE TIRED OF YOUR ABUSE/TRY TO STOP US, IT’S NO USE.” Most things sung (yelled?) by Henry Rollins speak for themselves and deserve to be typed in all caps.
Arcade Fire – “Month of May”
The driving guitar riff is just one element of instrumentation that helps the song capture the violence and distress, and possibly snarkiness due to the slight sarcasm in frontman Win Butler’s voice: “So young, so young/So much pain for someone so young/Well, I know it’s heavy, I know it ain’t light/But how you gonna lift it with your arms folded tight?”
Earl Sweatshirt feat. Tyler, The Creator – “Pigeons”
Featuring the tagline of today’s teenage rebellion: “Kill people, burn s t, f k school!” Where it lacks in eloquence, in gains in becoming the scripture sketched into textbooks and bathroom stalls everywhere.
Junior Murvin (also done by The Clash) – “Police and Thieves”
Because one thing your protest was definitely missing was a sweet, fatty reggae vibe. Go with The Clash rendition if you’re looking for something a bit more upbeat, but it’d be a lot cooler if you played the Junior Murvin original in the background while you give your statements to lame-stream media camera crews.
M.I.A. – “Born Free”
Poor M.I.A. After an “eh” response to her latest effort Maya, she’s resorted to poking jabs at the world from her Twitter stream and kind of coming off as a jerk. Anyways, “Born Free” should do it for most people looking for that rush of adrenaline as they prepare to rush a line of horse-mounted police officers. The synth sample from Suicide’s 1977 track “Ghost Rider” is exquisitely complemented by pounding drums and bass, and will be the perfect soundtrack to any videos you might capture of your buddy being victimized by the Man.
Dirty Projectors – “Spray Paint (The Walls)”
Are we cheating on this one? Whatever! Dirty Projector’s rendition of another Black Flag classic is not necessarily a great anthem for when you’re storming the palace, but maybe something to help you relax and think when you’re getting booked and on your way to the nearest precinct. Smooth girl harmonies and a ethereal instrumentation will definitely cool you down a bit, at least enough to sign your release forms.
Minor Threat – “Out of Step (With the World)”
Those authoritative city administrators just don’t know what it’s like! Ian MacKaye might not necessarily be talking about rebelling against the man here (see: straightedge), but any fast-paced hardcore punk song will do when you’re in the back alley behind some fabric shop, in a desperate knife fight with a hobo trying to take your Guy Fawkes mask.
Nine Inch Nails – “March Of the Pigs”
This is it- they’re coming at you, bro! You’ve really crossed the line this time, and unless you’re fine with becoming the martyr for your movement, you better get a-going if you ever want to drink some fair-trade Peets coffee ever again. Well, if you run to the frantic beat of Trent Reznor’s 1994 opus “March Of the Pigs,” your legs should carry you to safety fairly quickly- assuming the 20 pounds of HDSLR camera equipment on your back holds up.
Bruce Springsteen – “Born In the USA”
At some point, most likely when you win, there will be copious amounts of “U-S-A” chants, that can actually get pretty tiring. Well, let the Boss sing it for you! Mind you, this song is actually not too patriotic, but hey, neither are you.