The election season can be a major bummer for people who see that our democracy fails to represent our interests. More and more people on both the right and left are beginning to see that this two party duopoly is bought and sold by what Thomas Jefferson would call “monied interests.” As the two parties drift further and further into the pockets of transnational corporations and financial institutions, voting begins to seem more and more like a useless and futile affair.
Jimi Hendrix once said “Music doesn't lie. If there is something to be changed in this world, then it can only happen through music.”
1) "Waiting on the World to Change" by John Mayer
This 2006 hit pretty much sums up my generation’s disillusionment with our political system.
“Now we see everything that's going wrong with the world and those who lead it, we just feel like we don't have the means to rise above and beat it.”
“Now if we had the power to bring our neighbors home from war, they would have never missed a Christmas, no more ribbons on their door. And when you trust your television what you get is what you got, cause when they own the information, oh they can bend it all they want.”
2) "Gimme Some Truth" by John Lennon
I think it’s safe to say John was not in a good mood when he wrote this song, nor was he an admirer of Richard (Tricky Dicky) Nixon.
“I'm sick and tired of hearing things from uptight, short-sighted, narrow-minded hypocrites. All I want is the truth now, just gimme some truth now. I've had enough of reading things by neurotic, psychotic, pig-headed politicians."
“No short-haired, yellow-bellied, son of tricky dicky’s gonna Mother Hubbard soft soap me with just a pocketful of soap, money for dope.”
3) "If I Was President" by Wyclef Jean
This summer, rumors were spread that the Haitian-born hip hop star would be performing at the RNC. Listen to this song and you’ll wonder how anyone ever believed this myth.
“If I was president, I'd get elected on Friday, assassinated on Saturday, buried on Sunday."
“If I was president, instead of spending billions on the war, I can use some of that money to feed the poor. I know some so poor, when it rains that's when they shower, screaming fight the power that's when the vulture devoured.”
4) "Pigs" by Pink Floyd
From Pink Floyd’s Orwell-inspired album, Animals, this song mocks, attacks and calls out the American plutocracy.
“Big man, pig man, ha ha, charade you are, you well-heeled big wheel, ha ha, charade you are. And when your hand is on your heart, you're nearly a good laugh, almost a joker with your head down in the pig bin saying keep on digging, pig stain on your fat chin. What do you hope to find? Down in the pig mine, you're nearly a laugh, you’re nearly a laugh but you’re really a cry.”
“Hey you, White House, ha ha, charade you are, you house proud town mouse, ha ha, charade you are. You're trying to keep our feelings off the street, you're nearly a real treat, all tight lips and cold feet, and do you feel abused?”
5) "It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)" by Bob Dylan
One of Dylan’s most lyrically rich songs. (Aren’t they all?) If I could, I’d post all the lyrics to this song, but it’s so long that it would take up the entire article.
"While some on principles baptized to strict party platform ties social clubs in drag disguise, outsiders they can freely criticize, tell nothing except who to idolize and then say God bless him.”
6) "Masters of War" by Bob Dylan
(Author's Note: Bob Dylan songs are hard to find on YouTube, so the video provided above is a live cover by Eddie Vedder and Ben Harper.)
If ever a song could be described as “scathing,” it’s this one. In this poetically written piece, Bob vents his anger over the Vietnam War. When I listen to it, I can’t help but think of Dick Cheney.
“Come you masters of war, you that build all the guns, you that build the death planes, you that build all the bombs, you that hide behind walls, you that hide behind desks. I just want you to know I can see through your masks.”
“You fasten all the triggers, for the others to fire, then you set back and watch, when the death count gets higher, you hide in your mansion, as young people's blood flows out of their bodies and is buried in the mud.”
7) "Talk Shows on Mute" by Incubus
From their 2004 album, A Crow Left of the Murder, this song seems to be a reaction to the War on Terror and the PATRIOT Act, likening modern America to George Orwell’s classic 1984. The music video depicts some “stupid human tricks” like not voting.
“Quick, your time is almost up. Make all forget that they're the moth, edging in towards the flame, burn into obscurity. Still and transfixed, the electric sheep are dreaming up your fate and judge you from the card castle comfort of America. Come one, come all into 1984, yeah, three, two, one, lights, camera, transaction.”
“Your foundation is canyoning, fault lines should be worn with pride. I hate to say it, but you're so much more, you're so much more, endearing with the sound turned off.”
8) "Changes" by Tupac
This is one of Tupac's best songs, though his line “We ain't ready to see a black president” might be a bit outdated. Just listen to it.
“We need to start makin’ changes, learn to see me as your brother instead of two distant strangers.”
“Instead of a War on Poverty, we got a War on Drugs so the police can bother me."
9) "People Say" by Portugal the Man
Perhaps the only good thing to be said about war is that it inspires great protest songs
“Save me, I can't be saved, I won't, I'm a president's son, I don't need no soul. All the soldiers say 'It'll be alright, we may make it through the war if we make it through the night.' All the people, they say: What a lovely day, yeah, we won the war, may have lost a million men, but we've got a million more, all the people, they say.”
10) "Sleep through the Static" by Jack Johnson
Don’t we all wish we could sleep through the static?
“Shock and awful thing to make somebody think that they have to choose pushing for peace supporting the troops and either you're weak or you'll use brute force-feed the truth is we say not as we do. We say anytime, anywhere, just show your teeth and strike the fear that god wears camouflage, cries at night and drives a dodge, pick up the beat and stop hogging the feast, that's no way to treat an enemy.”
“Well mighty mighty appetite we just eat 'em up and keep on driving freedom can be freezing take a picture from the pretty side, mind your manners wave your banners, what a wonderful world that this angle can see. But who needs to see what we've done? Who needs please when we've got guns? Who needs keys when we've got clubs? Who needs peace when we've gone above but beyond where we should have gone, we went beyond where we should’ve gone.”
As Bob Marley would say, “One good thing about music is when it hits you feel no pain.” I hope these songs help you vent your frustrations with our political process. And in case they bummed you out too much, here is an encore to lift your spirits and dream of better days.
11) "Imagine" by John Lennon
“Imagine all the people living life in peace.”