Five Songs That Were Political Statements!
Gimme Shelter Music Video
1. GIMME SHELTER - THE ROLLING STONES
America in 1969 had a war going in Vietnam, race riots and Charles Manson. Mick Jagger sings of needing shelter from this ‘storm’.
Keith Richards wrote most of this song. In this song at about the 3:04 minute mark, when Mary Clayton sings the high note on "Murder," you can hear Mick Jagger in the background saying "Whoo!". The Stones recorded this song using old, worn out Triumph amplifiers to get a distinctive sound. "Gimme Shelter" is the title of the movie that documented The Stones 1969 tour, including the Altamont concert where a fan was stabbed by a Hell's Angels security guard. The movie was rush released in 1970 to come out before the Woodstock documentary. It was released on video in 1992, and re-released in theaters in 2000 for the 30th anniversary. George Lucas of Star Wars fame was on the crew for the movie.
"That song was written during the Vietnam War and so it's very much about the awareness that war is always present; it was very present in life at that point. Mary Clayton who did the backing vocals, was a background singer who was known to one of the producers. Suddenly, we wanted someone to sing in the middle of the night. And she was around. She came with her curlers in, straight from bed, and had to sing this really odd lyric. For her it was a little odd - for anyone, in the middle of the night, to sing this one verse would have been odd. She was great." - Mick Jagger
Bullet The Blue Sky Music Video
2. BULLET THE BLUE SKY – U2
This is a political song that condemns US foreign policy for promoting unrest in Central America.
The lyrics were inspired by Bono's trip to Central America in 1985 as part of Amnesty International. Adam Clayton, Larry Mullen, and The Edge came up with the music, which Bono wrote lyrics around. Bono wanted to draw attention to the damage the US was doing in other countries, which he felt most Americans did not know the extent of. Criticism of America did not hurt record sales there, as The Joshua Tree was the #1 album it's first week. It also didn't hurt Bono's status with American politicians, many of which invited Bono to speak on behalf of various causes.
Bullet The Blue Sky
This was one of the first U2 songs to condemn US politics. They would sometimes call the president on stage during their US shows. The last line about the man who is afraid to leave his house was almost changed to "Because outside is the world" from "Because outside is America." They were not sure they wanted to name the US directly.
Invisible Sun Music Video
3. INVISIBLE SUN – THE POLICE
Sting wrote this song about violence and turmoil in Northern Ireland in the early 1980s.
This song was performed at The Police's final concert, the "Conspiracy of Hope" performance for Amnesty International on June 15, 1986. U2's Bono helped out on vocals.
Ostensibly about the violence and turmoil in Northern Ireland in the early 1980s, this song also takes into account suffering on a much larger scale: "And they're only gonna change this place, by killing everybody in the human race."
A possible influence on the title: in 1658, Sir Thomas Browne (1605-82) wrote in Hydriotaphia (Urn-Burial): "Life is a pure flame, and we live by an invisible sun within us."
Fortunate Son music Video
4. FORTUNATE SON – CREDENCE CLEARWATER REVIVAL
John Fogerty wrote this song about the lucky well-connected Americans who weren’t forcefully conscripted and sent to the US war in Vietnam.
This is an anti-establishment song of defiance and blue-collar pride, both anti-Washington and against the Vietnam war. John Fogerty and Doug Clifford were both drafted in 1966 and discharged from the army in 1967. Richard Nixon was president of the US when group leader John Fogerty wrote this. Fogerty was not a fan of Nixon and felt that people close to the president were receiving preferential treatment.This spoke out against the war in Vietnam, but was supportive of the soldiers fighting there. Like many CCR fans, most of the soldiers came from the working class, and were there because they didn't have connections who could get them out. It is sung from the perspective of one of these men, who ends up fighting because he is not a "Senator's son."
Creedence performed this on The Ed Sullivan Show, probably because the show's producers didn't realize it was a protest song. The show tried hard not to offend anyone, and usually had bands perform their least controversial songs or alter the lyrics for the show.
When interviewed by Rolling Stone magazine, John Fogerty was once asked: "What inspired 'Fortunate Son'?" His response: "Julie Nixon was hanging around with David Eisenhower, and you just had the feeling that none of these people were going to be involved with the war. In 1969, the majority of the country thought morale was great among the troops, and like eighty percent of them were in favor of the war. But to some of us who were watching closely, we just knew we were headed for trouble."
Where Is The Love Music Video
5. WHERE IS THE LOVE – BLACK EYED PEAS
This one is about the state of the post 9/11 world, which all but calls for US withdrawal from Iraq.
Black eyed Peas group member Ron Fair started writing it late in 2001, and another member, Will.I.Am, added the socially-conscious lyrics. This was co-written by Justin Timberlake, who also sang on the track. He came up the chorus after hearing the song on the phone. Timberlake was not listed as a featured singer on this and did not appear in the video. His record company wanted to keep his contribution to this low-key because they didn't want it to interfere with his album Justified.
Where Is The Love
The song took a long time to develop. By the time they recorded the version on the album, they added a string section and recorded vocals by their new member - a female singer named Fergie. They had also changed their sound to appeal to a wider audience.