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Writing A Protest Song

Updated on February 27, 2013

We all know how oppressive the man can be. Left unchecked, his evil ways will exploit those weaker than himself. From time to time he has to be held accountable by the people, because you know, this land is your land. And nothing brings the people together like a good old protest song.

Our fourth installment in the How to write a song series looks at the protest song. Popularized in the 1960’s, the protest song is a great way to serve your movement and have a good time in the process. There have been many famous protest songs by well known established artist. But you don't have to be recording artist to make a song for your cause. Let's take a look at the main parts of the protest song:

The Cause –This is the single most important part of a protest song. Without the cause you just have a bunch of dirty hippies standing around being unproductive, (which is not unheard of). Your cause may be anything from increasing Starbucks prices to a future WalMart site in your neighborhood. No cause is to big or small for a protest song.

An acoustic guitar – A must for any protest song, the guitar has to be acoustic. No matter what the protest, you always see that one guy strumming the untuned chords of change on his trusty acoustic guitar.

Bongos – What better way to compliment the guitar than with some bongos? It is not uncommon to see a full drum circle going on at a protest. Not sure how to play? No worries, just grab your drum and start banging away, who needs rhythm to spread the seeds of change?

College kids –As mentioned before, you can't just have a bunch of hippies at this thing, you need brains behind the operation. Who knows it all? Who knows everything about anything? Enter the college sophomore. With a full year of higher learning at his disposal, he will arrive wearing his Che Guevara shirt and begin to write the inspiring lyrics to your protest song.

Make sure to blame Bush –Sure he hasn't been in office for almost 4 years, but don’t let that stop you. Blaming Bush for anything from the treatment of lab rats to natural disasters is crucial for a protest song to gain steam. He is THE MAN.

Passion – Real or manufactured, you must have passion. Do not smile, you are oppressed. Make sure to have a solemn look of determination on your face. Not quite angry, you don’t want to turn people off; you need to have just the right amount of angst and compassion for mankind.

Knowledge – You know something that most people don’t. The dumb masses are the sheep and need to be led. They have fallen victim to the evils of [enter subject of protest here] and need to be helped. You are here to expose [said subject], and educate the sheep. You did after all read the book.

Okay, let’s put this thing together. You have to feel the Bob Dylan flowing through your veins, let your inner Rage Against the Machine circulate with every heartbeat. Time to get in touch with your inner Michael Moore, and sing to the world via youtube…

Start strumming and close your eyes....focus! Feel the drums, maybe someone yodles in the background as it all comes together.....

As the sea and the tides together slightly rise, I feel the change within,

And the man with the gun, who has always made us run, I feel the change for him…

From the East to the West, we have for too long been oppressed, I feel the change comin’,

And now as they say, what they will take away, I feel the change with them…

This has gone on too long, we must remain strong, I feel the change in the wind,

The prices have risen, and now we're stuck in your prison, I feel the change in the trends...

And so on it goes, sing your song, the louder the better. Be sure to post the video on facebook and youtube and hope that it goes viral. Maybe you can get on the news and score an interview. This will give you a forum to articulate your message. Whatever your cause, it needs a theme. It's up to you to provide the soundtrack to your movement. Good Luck!


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    • weestro profile image

      Pete Fanning 5 years ago from Virginia

      Thanks for reading spartucus, glad I could help!

    • spartucusjones profile image

      CJ Baker 5 years ago from Parts Unknown

      Thank you for the tips! It it will help in my ongoing quest to stick it to the man!

    • Tom Koecke profile image

      Tom Koecke 5 years ago from Tacoma, Washington

      Oh weestro, you have such little faith in the talents of today's artists, even though you are probably correct now that I think about it!

    • weestro profile image

      Pete Fanning 5 years ago from Virginia

      Tom, I think that the harmonica was an intregal part of the sixties protesting, but I think protesters today aren't talented enough to play both the guitar and harmonica! Hence the off beat drum circles!

    • Tom Koecke profile image

      Tom Koecke 5 years ago from Tacoma, Washington

      Maybe they are still laughing at the video, or maybe they are boycotting it for the obvious fact that you didn't mention wearing an harmonica while strumming the guitar. In case you didn't know, that harmonica gives a protest song singer the same type of street cred as getting shot, arrested, and sexing women gives a rapper.

    • weestro profile image

      Pete Fanning 5 years ago from Virginia

      Thanks Tom, I was going to protest the fact that this hub didn't have any comments so I'm glad you left one!

    • Tom Koecke profile image

      Tom Koecke 5 years ago from Tacoma, Washington

      I thought the hub was great until I saw the video! Funny, funny stuff!