Intertextual protest

I like my music ANGRY. My favourite types of song

Are those that call for change, to try to right some wrongs.

I’ll take lyrics about war or peace or duty socially bound,

Over any heartfelt soulful dirge about love lost or found.


But it seems my favourite protest songs have limited success,

Judging by the fact the world is still in such a mess.

The answers blowing in the wind have flown too far away,

The times are still a-changing but the crap is here to stay.


The Eastern world still explodes, haters gonna hate.  

They’ve made it to the moon and back but peace will have to wait.

Nuclear war still threatens, the bomb’s still in production,

Fifty plus years later, we’re still on the eve of destruction.


Fountain-pen led thievery is still the bankers’ game,

They now use mouse and keyboard, but they rob us just the same.

We need the songs of outlaws, the folk like Robin Hood,

To make us really question who’s the bad guy and who’s good.


And those who dare to speak out, they must wonder still

Do they risk being sentenced to their deaths like poor Joe Hill?

A trumped up charge of murder, full pie in the sky

State-sponsored execution and I think we can guess why.


There’s been many Bloody Sundays, all days of the week,

For the planet and its people, the future’s looking bleak.

We could ride the Wind of Change, say we want a Revolution

But going back to where we started is not a real solution.


Must we accept that poverty just will exist forever?

That history’s just a load of injustices strung together?

It can’t only be in stories that the good guys get to win:

In the real Battle of Evermore, we will not give in.


One day We Shall Overcome, we won’t give up the fight

We’ll say War’s good for nothing, Get Up and Stand Up for our rights.

I will speak out for others, to be at peace with myself,

And that’s worth more than any one percent’s ill-gotten wealth.


The rulers and the choosers, we’ve got them running scared

Cos when they put a foot wrong - they know that we’ll be there.

We shall not be silenced, don’t ever let them doubt it,

Where there’s injustice, there’ll be protest, and someone to sing about it.


Songs quoted or referenced in this poem:

Bob Dylan “Blowin’ in the Wind (1962)

Bob Dylan “The Times they are a Changing” (1964)

P.F. Sloan / Barry McGuire “Eve of Destruction” (1965)

Woody Guthrie “Pretty Boy Floyd” (1939)

Joe Hill “The Preacher and the Slave” (1911)

U2 “Sunday Bloody Sunday” (1983)

Scorpions “Wind of Change” (1990)

The Beatles “Revolution” (1968)

Led Zeppelin “The Battle of Evermore” (1971)

“We Shall Overcome” (protest song based on gospel hymn, 1900/1945)

Bob Marley / Pete Tosh “Get Up, Stand Up” (1973)

Norman Whitfield / Barrett Strong/ Edwin Starr “War” (1969)

protestprotest songsSaturday Rhymers Clubsocial justiceSRC

◄ The music is calling

If only poetry burned calories ►


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Becky Who

Wed 31st Oct 2018 21:49

Yes I agree, a few decent and morally upstanding philanthropists would certainly come in handy in the current economic and political climate. We could also use ways to combat the rise to power of completely inappropriate characters - governments have so often proved themselves not "up to the job", as you say, economically or morally. It seems that "democracy" as it currently stands, in many places, is not working to prevent placing people in power that are proving themselves completely unsuited to the job - by putting themselves or the few above the rights and needs of the many, by creating and maintaining their power by pushing division and pitting people against one another, "divide and conquer" and all that.

I don't pretend to have the answers. I just know that things are not right as they currently stand and we have to at least try to make things better. Kind-hearted rich people can try their way, and good on them.

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M.C. Newberry

Wed 31st Oct 2018 16:29

Becky - actually, the MSN online page tends to feature items from what may be called the "left-leaning" media
over others. I have even "messaged" them about this
tendency! The item about the billionaires was something
of a surprise! We can forget that other times saw the
great philanthropists of their age - notably in the Victorian
era - leave their mark on society when government was
not up to the task. We could do with some of their sort
today - across the globe, not just in the West, judging by
emergence of some from otherwise poor nations with
similar track records on show from their own countries
and governments. E.G. Nigeria, Mexico and India. The
last mentioned has just spent $400 million on a statue
of a political leader when legions of kids are left to fend
for themselves in the streets across that country.

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Becky Who

Tue 30th Oct 2018 21:22

I'm sure there are some - perhaps even many - good, rich people, deserving of their wealth and philanthropic to a T. I'm sure MSN online also talks about those that are throwing their money around to blur climate change research, pay backhanders to get access to profitable but environmentally distastrous projects, taking private jets halfway across the planet on a whim, and generally selling all our futures for the sake of their own immediate profit. It doesn't do to generalise about rich people, I guess, any more than it does to make generalisations about beggars, people on benefits, migrants or "leftwingers".

Perhaps I over-reacted to your original comment in reading it as dismissing protest as a foible of youth. (I guess I was also nettled at the dig at poor Joe Hill, although it was a play on words he probably would have appreciated). I'm sure "protest" is sometimes - often, even - far from the best way to bring about change for the better. But we have to do SOMETHING, surely?

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M.C. Newberry

Tue 30th Oct 2018 00:42

The MSN online page has just featured an item about the
backstory to a number of billionaires, most of whom are
household names. It is astonishing just how many were
gifted, industrious, imaginative and determined when very
young and carried those traits into later years to great
success and wealth. One gave away $2billion and has a remaining million or two to help him see out his final
years. The others also have various philanthropic outlets
to which to contribute from the fortunes they've made in
an entrepreneurial world. The rich,
like the poor, will always be with us, I suspect and the good tends to be
forgotten when assessing their
wealth and its acquisition/disposal.

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Becky Who

Sun 28th Oct 2018 12:00

M.C. Newberry, I like your last line: " Let history
be our teacher and persistence in the pursuit of change for the better the essential virtue in any hoped-for victory."

I'm sorry, I just get mad when there's anything that shouts of diverting the blame from those that really are taking us all for fools - the money men running the show. Yes, it is unfortunate if some people over-protest, protest emptily or whatever, just as it is unfortunate that some "beggars" are fake, benefit scroungers or whatever. But all their crimes put together still pale into insignificance next to just a few multimillionaire tax dodgers.

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Don Matthews

Sun 28th Oct 2018 03:53

You're right Becky I missed a very important point in my poem. We need a strong-type leader that is GOOD 😎

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M.C. Newberry

Sun 28th Oct 2018 01:49

My final lines recognised the need to differentiate. It is a
fact that one generation's idea of "right" is another's idea
of "wrong". It can become a habit to protest - as if the
action itself is an unassailable virtue, when a little
rationing/restraint might be relevant - even invaluable.
Today's world seems to have lost its way a bit and acts of illegality acquire a veneer of "social courage" and even
entitlement, with certain well-documented criminal deeds
at the forefront of this conundrum, receiving close media
reporting to a degree that might be termed "sympathetic" - or what a certain US president might refer to as "fake
news". It is necessary to evaluate/entertain "likelihood"
when aiming to alter anything to suit a purpose....or it
amounts to so much wasted breath.
Politics has been described as "the art of the possible" -
(in the hands of the improbable perhaps?!). Let history
be our teacher and persistence in the pursuit of change for the better the essential virtue in any hoped-for victory.

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Becky Who

Sat 27th Oct 2018 22:44

Why is it the job of the young? Like it's something they have to get out of their system? There is an awful lot of crap and injustice in this world, and if EVERY thinking person opened their mouth about it there could be more hope for us all. Especially if otherwise protest is going to otherwise be dismissed as a foible of youth. If those that are perhaps old enough and ugly enough to garner more respect from the powers that be will discard apathy and speak out for others, then maybe social justice would have more of a chance.

How can we possibly protest TOO MUCH, as long as things are wrong and we're being taken for a ride by those abusing power? Ok, maybe we need to find other methods if marching in the street doesn't work, but to stand back is to be complicite in their crimes. I know there's so many things going wrong that it becomes "pick your arguments', and that when life's a bit tough it is hard enough to keep on getting on with things without getting worked up for others, but then that's exactly what the guys playing the system count on.

PS I'm not young, not any more...

PPS I take it you do know the origin of the expression "pie in the sky"?

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M.C. Newberry

Sat 27th Oct 2018 16:03

"Pious in the sky" comes to mind. It is the job of the
young to protest at what they see as injustice - and has
always been so through history. But, to borrow from the
Bard, you can protest too much and the messages
become diluted through repetition alone, at risk from
being given the "oh its them - or that - again" response.
Right and wrong are always in the vanguard of human
progress and can become muddled and lost at times.
If nothing else, youthful protests remind us of their vital
importance, especially when we're
tempted through circumstance to
adopt convenient interpretations of

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Jon Stainsby

Sat 27th Oct 2018 14:42

Really great, Becky.

Big Sal

Sat 27th Oct 2018 13:32

'Inspiring' is not a strong enough word. .

'Ideal and truthful' perhaps. . ?

I will say that is the hardest part for me in writing poetry, commenting on it, etc. is to find the right words to express a particular emotion or feeling. You have had no such problem in this piece as each line fits together like a dove in a shoe box.

Well done, Becky. You just said more in one poem than Fox News and CNN report on in ten years.

I often wish people would cling to intelligent choices and paths like stupid people do for all the things you've listed. That'll be the day eh?😆

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Becky Who

Sat 27th Oct 2018 11:45

The problem is, we need a strong type leader that is a GOOD PERSON, with no personal agenda. Insecurity leads people to accept more authoritarianism, and that's how the people that can lead and want to lead but SHOULDN'T LEAD get in power.

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Don Matthews

Sat 27th Oct 2018 11:04

I cannot fault your protest
Desire to bring 'bout change
The problem is man's goodness
Has gone way off the range

It needs a strong-type leader
To lead a mass protest
And change these off-range issues
From off into the best 😎

Excellent poem Becky

Happy Hiker

Sat 27th Oct 2018 09:19


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Taylor Crowshaw

Sat 27th Oct 2018 08:25

Excellent Becky, as always with your packs a mighty punch...💕

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Brian Maryon

Sat 27th Oct 2018 08:20

Good one Becky. Thanks for list of references...I knew a lot of them but not all.

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