What song rocks your world?

Kevin Kamberg

[Editor's note: Today, we're excited to announce the addition of Kevin Kamberg to our crew of contributors. He describes himself as a "recovering conservative Republican."]

As usual I was listening to NPR on my lunch break a while back and was moved by what I heard. The topic was something about inspirational or influential songs, from pop to spirituals. Listeners were calling in to suggest a song or comment on songs already suggested and I immediately started pondering what song I would suggest and why. It didn't take me long and I quickly thought about writing about it, but one thing led to another and I forgot about it. That is until I saw the inspiring Pete Seeger: The Power of Song documentary that OPB is running during Pledge Week right now and that brought it all back for me.

My song is absolutely central to why I am a progressive. In fact I would have to say that the message it conveys forms the very core of what being a progressive is all about to me. That song is Lean On Me, specifically the version Club Nouveau did in 1987. The entire song moves me, but the chorus in particular goes to the heart of why this song epitomizes what being a progressive is all about to me:

Lean on me when you're not strong
And I'll be your friend
I'll help you carry on.
For it won't be long
'Till I'm gonna need
Somebody to lean on.

Club Nouveau's cover of this old Bill Withers song is central to the story of my journey from a young conservative Republican to the middle-aged progressive who sometimes posts too many comments around here. Perhaps that's why I identify so strongly with it. If you'll indulge me I'd like to share part of that journey with you.

I've had two major epiphanies in my life, both of which have had a profound impact on me. The most recent one was just this last summer when I finally accepted that I am a progressive. Ironically (or not) it occurred while I was reading Blue Oregon.

The first epiphany, and the one where this song served as a catalyst, was in the summer of 1988. My loyal fans (ha ha!) will recall my having mentioned in comments several times that I'm a recovering Cocaine and Meth addict. Well, I spent the last week of August and most of September 1988 as a patient in a drug and alcohol rehab facility. And although it wasn't strictly a current song, Club Nouveau's version of this song was still getting fairly frequent airtime on the local pop stations which were piped in through the institutionalized speaker system in the facility.

I'd self-identified as a Republican as far back as I can remember ever thinking about politics, which for me was about age ten or eleven. And I still viewed myself as a dyed-in-the-wool Republican when I first walked into that treatment center. A key creed I'd subscribed to up to that point was the whole "lock 'em up & throw away the key" approach to criminal justice - pretty typical GOPer thinking even now. I had no pity for anyone caught doing wrong and took no small amount of smug pride in stepping up to be among the first to cast stones at anyone who got caught. Which ironically also played a role in my journey. But I'm getting off-track here.

Like everyone in treatment centers anywhere I was assigned a counselor. Mine was this diminutive firecracker of a woman who, unbeknownst to me at the time, was dying of cancer and would only live for a couple more months. She was quite literally giving the last of what she had to give in order to help alcoholics and addicts find the hope and freedom she'd been enjoying the last dozen years. She's not only a major reason why I'm alive today, but the foundation she gave me is largely responsible for why, in a demographic where at least one or two relapses are very common, I never have.

So anyway, one day I'm in her office and we're having one of our heart-to-heart talks and it hits me out of the blue that I wanted to be forgiven for all of the pain and anguish I'd caused to those closest to me. I mean I REALLY wanted to be forgiven. My counselor spared no sacred cows in impressing on me the scope of the emotional wasteland I'd created with my addiction and I felt truly horrible about it. One of the sad ironies of addiction is that those who love us the most invariably pay the highest price for our addiction.

So I'm sitting in her office when this epiphany hits me and time seems to stand still for a while. It must have because she wouldn't have tolerated me staring off into space for as long as it should have taken for me to process all that I did at that moment. However it happened, the realization hit me that I wouldn't have forgiven me. I wouldn't have! My inner conservative would have tarred and feathered me publically and would have relished every minute of it. Weaving in and around that thought was the remembrance of the words to "Lean On Me." And that realization naturally led to me wanting to rethink this premise that I'd held near and dear up to that point. For the first time in my life I had some appreciation for what it felt like to be guilty as charged and totally unworthy of redemption in and of myself. I'd slowly watched myself compromise every value I'd ever had over the previous handful of years and there was nothing left in the well... no redeeming fact about me which I felt warranted my redemption on merit. Yet I desperately wanted redemption.

As the epiphany subsided and my perception of time resumed, the lyrics to that Club Nouveau song lit the path out of the ideological morass I found myself in.

It's interesting how once one sacred cow gets slaughtered it opens a veritable Pandora's box of sacred cows, any one or more of which are also fair game for slaughter, at least it did in my case. Everything I'd believed up to that point was fair game for being questioned and challenged, particularly the political notions I'd long held. Nothing was declared off-limits. Although it would take many more years to work my way through a substantal majority of beliefs and opinions, I had at least made a start. I've since learned to appreciate that that start is the most crucial step of all. Without it nothing changes.

By the time I walked out of that treatment center I no longer self-identified as a conservative. A couple months later, during the 1988 general election, I not only voted for the first Democrat in my lifetime but I voted a straight Dem ticket. Within months I changed my voter registration from Republican to what was then the still available option of "independent," which I remain to this day, except that now it's known under it's new appelation of NAV. However, I am planning on re-registering as a Democrat so that I can vote in the upcoming primary. But then it'll be back to NAV status for me. At least for now.

The intervening years since that sultry hot summer of 1988 have been a slow, hard-fought journey of discovery and self-honesty. My epiphany last summer surely isn't the end. Contrary to what I've read is typical, I'm steadily getting more and more progressive as I get older instead of getting more and more conservative as is supposedly more common.

Okay, if you're still reading at this point, I still want to know what song rocks your progressive world and why?

Comments

  • (Show?)

    like ol' Jimmy Durante used to say, "I got a million of 'em!" so many i could pick, but probably the one song i'd have to identify as speaking to who i am and how i try to live my life is "Changes in Attitudes, Changes in Latitudes" by Jimmy Buffett. the entire song, the album, the time i first heard it (and a bunch of early Buffett albums: i bought his first four or five at once and so kind of fell deep into my parrottheadism); all were so influential to changing me from the youth i was into (slowly slowly) the man i became.

    If it suddenly ended tomorrow, I could somehow adjust to the fall
    Good times and riches and son-of-a-bitches, I've seen more than I can recall.

    and

    Yesterday's are over my shoulders, so I can't look back for too long
    There's just too much to see waiting in front of me, and I know that I just can't go wrong

    people who only know one or two Buffett songs (and that's most people) snicker at parrottheads like me who can find elements of a positive, productive life philosophy in his music. but we can, because the music extends far beyond the actual songs. my journey from fundamentalist christian to semi-Zen was aided hugely by Jimmy Buffett; if that seems bizarre to you, then you're seeing it just right.

    great post, Kevin. as another great band said, "Keep on chooglin'!"

  • thanks for sharing (unverified)
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    Thanks for sharing that great story Kevin. Seriously. That's some of the best stuff in life...that kind of personal growth.

  • MCT (unverified)
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    Wow....so many. A few stand out. Don Henley's "End of the Innocence". And Jackson Browne's "Lives in the Balance". I come from the age of protest songs...not much of that anymore. Something as simple as George Harrison's "While my Guitar Gently Weeps" says more in music than lyrics...though I know it's Eric Clapton on the fender strat, and don't care. All are anthems for the common man's plight. Sung by rich men but you gotta love that.

    "Stand by Me still" gives me shivers. And "You are the Wind Beneath my Wings"....may be a bit old-fashioned for some but you just can't beat it for saying it true.

    And John Lennon's "Beautiful Boy"...the one line...'life is what happens to you while you're busy doing other things."

    And T.A., I think Buffet's best song is "Pirate Looks at 40." Mother, Mother Ocean.

    Yes Kevin thanks for writing this and reminding us how music moves us through our lives.

  • LT (unverified)
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    I like Lives in the Balance, but most of mine are older: We Shall Overcome and other protest songs. Including the one with a long title and a very famous chorus, "And it's one, two, three, what are fighting for! Don't ask me, I don't give a damn, the next stop is Vietnam!".

    I'm a big fan of Joan Baez, partly because where I went to high school, we had friends who knew her well as she lived nearby.

    Maybe that is why politics now is not like politics 40 years ago--not enough good songs. The only comperable song I can think of in the 21st century is John Mayer's Waiting On The World To Change, and it isn't really a rallying cry like the earlier songs.

  • (Show?)

    Great song suggestions so far.

    Due to my sole tattoo being of a tropical sunset behind a single palm tree on a tiny island and which is prominantly placed on my shoulder, I've been asked many times if I'm a parrothead. I'm not per se, although Jimmy Buffet is clearly a kindred spirit. I do like his stuff and have a number of his songs in my MP3 collection. My favorite one is his live "lost verse" version of Margaritaville which I believe was recorded on Martha's Vineyard.

    And MTC, "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" is on my shortlist of favorite songs ever. And I absolutely agree about the emotional content conveyed just by the music alone. Pure genius. Ditto for CS&N's "Southern Cross," Clapton's "Tears in Heaven," Paul Simon's "Slip Slidin' Away," Israel Kamakawiwo'ole's "Somewhere Over The Rainbow," Neil Young's "Southern Man" and so many others.

  • Gold (unverified)
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    Club Nouveau as opposed to Bill Withers? Great story, but I have to support the original version...:)

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    I think one of my favorites right now has to be "How Far We've Come" from Matchbox Twenty. Definitely describes how I often feel about where we've been headed.

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    definitely the song hat fits the specific category is "You Gotta Work" by Amerie. I saw it as the bed for an obama mashup from TX and it was PUMPING. Search obama Texas mashup, it's worth it--so inspiring with that great Stax style horn section:

    Some days are gonna be hard like this Some days there's gonna be rain like this Some days you're gonna feel pain like this Some days you gotta work hard for it

    Cos when you're feelin' low and you can't get no lower that's when you know you're close sometimes you gotta work hard for it

  • Jamie (unverified)
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    All the music in my life has faded lately, and my world is now small as I fumble to adapt to a life alone after the death of my husband. The song that understands my experience is James Blunt's Goodbye My Lover.

    You touched my heart, you touched my soul. You changed my life and all my goals. And love is blind, and that I knew, when my heart was blinded by you. I've kissed your lips and held your hand, shared your dreams and shared your bed. I know you well, I know your smell. I've been addicted to you. Goodbye my lover. Goodbye my friend. You have been the one. You have been the one for me. :(

  • MCT (unverified)
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    I started my journey of careers as a dj at an "undergound"...but really just "progresive" radio station. It was a commercial station. Didn't pay squat, but it held a lot of glory, free drinks at the local saloon, and the opportunity for extra cash MC-ing concerts. Canned Heat, The Band, Steve MIller Band, Boz Scaggs, Quicksilver Messenger Service (who's "Fresh Air" may have been the first environmental protest song), Jesse Collin Young....and Country Joe & the Fish, among others. And I got top ratings as the only woman, one of the first women on the air in Milwaukee WI. Kinda proud of that. I lived for the music, and it was our statement...the way we made our politics known. We were loud. Hey...how 'bout the Doobie Bros. "Takin' it to the Streets"? That's a good one, too.

    The war in Viet Nam was raging back then, friends dying. Bobby and MLK and Kent State were fresh wounds. Protests and arrests were like badges and rights of passage. At the station, we used to pull our news every hour from the AP & UPI teletype machines, and read it ourselves. The escalation in the war, and the stories from returning vets brought us to the point where we simply didn't read the body counts (remember those?) or the battle stories anymore. We just said at the end of each newscast "And the war in Viet Nam continues."

    And the war in Iraq continues. Only now they've negated the Constitution, and visible dissent scares the hell out of most folks. I like Mayer's Waitin for the World to Change, but I wish so many people weren't just waiting for an election to change it. I think we're all going to have to engage beyond politics.

  • (Show?)

    A few songs come to mind. This one came to mind first. I still get misty every time I hear it.

    Anybody here seen my old friend Abraham? Can you tell me where he's gone? He freed lotta people but it seems the good they die young You know I just looked around and he's gone

    Anybody here seen my old friend John? Can you tell me where he's gone? He freed lotta people but it seems the good they die young I just looked around and he's gone

    Anybody here seen my old friend Martin? Can you tell me where he's gone? He freed lotta people but it seems the good they die young I just looked around and he's gone

    Didn't you love the things that they stood for? Didn't they try to find some good for you and me? And we'll be free Some day soon, it's gonna be one day

    Anybody here seen my old friend Bobby? Can you tell me where he's gone? I thought I saw him walkin' up over the hill With Abraham, Martin, and John

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    I also have a serious weakness for the songs of Steve Goodman. He was seldom overtly political but he observed political realities with a sly cynicism I love.

    One of my favorites is "Banana Republics."

    Down to the Banana Republics, down to the tropical sun Go the expatriated Americans, hopin' to find some fun Some of them go for the sailing, caught by the lure of the sea Tryin' to find what is ailing, livin' in the land of the free

    Some of them are running from lovers, leaving no forward address Some of them are running marijuana Some are running from the I.R.S.

    Chorus: Late at night you will see them In the cheap hotels and bars Hustling the senoritas as they dance beneath the stars Spending those renegade pesos on a bottle of rum and a lime Singin' give me some words I can dance to Or a melody that rhymes

    First you learn the native customs soon a word of spanish or two You know that you cannot trust them 'Cause they know they can't trust you Expatriated Americans feelin' so all alone Telling themselves the same lies That they told themselves back home

    Down to the Banana Republics, things aren't as warm as they seem None of the natives are buying any second-hand American dreams

    Chorus: Late at night you will see them In the cheap hotels and bars Hustling the senoritas as they dance beneath the stars Spending those renegade pesos on a bottle of rum and a lime Singin' give me some words I can dance to Or a melody that rhymes

    Down to the Banana Republics, down to the tropical sun Go the expatriated Americans hopin' to find some fun

    And then there is his classic "Election Year Rag."

    Come on babe, won't you take a chance, Your papa's gonna show you a brand new dance, You shuffle on down, now don't you be no drag And do that Election Year Rag.

    You take two steps to the left and two steps to the right, Then just land in the middle and you hang on tight. Come on down now, don't feel mad, You can do that Election Year Rag.

    Jump on that old bandwagon, Here's what you gonna do: Go down to the Precinct Captain's house this morning And scarf up some lame duck stew.

    Well, don't you cry, don't shed no tears, You know it only comes around every four years, And I am your dark horse and you're my nag, Do that Election Year Rag.

    If you feel like you need a score card, Well, you really don't have to fuss. You know the winner's always somebody else And the loser is always us.

    And it's shake it to the East, shake it to the West, Hand me down my bullet-proof vest. It's nobody's choice and it's anybody's guess And do that Election -

    There ain't no selection, And do that Election Year Rag.

  • LT (unverified)
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    Steph: The name of this song Posted by: Stephanie V | Mar 7, 2008 11:51:33 PM is Abraham, Martin and John by DION, as I recall.

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    Thank you for sharing that, Jamie. Songs which express our deepest, most intimately felt emotions have always been the ones that I love the most, even if the emotions are bittersweet. Or perhaps it's because the emotions are often bitersweet...

    I am deeply sorry for your loss. If I'm fortunate then I will die before my lover does. But if I don't then that song will perfectly encapsulate what she's meant to me. However, at the end of the day I'll be able to honestly say that I wouldn't have missed one second of it for all the fame, riches or material "things" in the universe. Life's funny that way. There is a price to be paid for great loves. Yet I firmly believe that there is an even higher price to be paid for avoiding great loves for fear of having to ever feel pain and loss.

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    Jamie:

    I don't think there are words to express how sorry I am to hear that.

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    One of my favorites is "Banana Republics."

    For some reason that made me think of Warren Zevon's "Lawyers, Guns and Money."

    Now I'm hiding in Honduras I'm a desperate man Send lawyers, guns and money The shit has hit the fan

    Yikes!

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    But the greatest Steve Goodman song of all time is "The Dying Cub Fan's Last Request."

    By the shore's of old Lake Michigan Where the "hawk wind" blows so cold An old Cub fan lay dying In his midnight hour that tolled 'Round his bed, his friends had all gathered They knew his time was short And on his head they put this bright blue cap From his all-time favorite sport He told them "it's late and it's getting dark in here And I know it's time to go But before I leave the line-up There's just one thing I'd like to know"

    Do they still play the blues in Chicago When baseball season rolls around When the snow melts away, Do the Cubbies still play In their ivy covered burial ground When I was a boy they were my pride and joy But now they only bring fatigue To the home of the brave The land of the free And the doormat of the national league (talking blues) Told his friends "You know the law of averages says: Anything will happen that can." That's what it says. "But the year the Cubs last won a national league pennant Was the year we dropped the bomb on Japan" The Cubs made me a criminal Sent me down a wayward path They stole my youth from me (that's the truth) I'd forsake my teachers To go sit in the bleachers In flagrant truancy and then one thing led to another soon I'd discovered alcohol, gambling, dope football, hockey, lacrosse, tennis But what do you expect, When you raise up a young boy's hopes And then just crush 'em like so many paper beer cups. Year after year after year after year, after year, after year, after year, after year 'Til those hopes are just so much popcorn for pigeons beneath the "EL" track to eat He said "You know I'll never see Wrigley Field anymore before my eternal rest So if you have your pencils and your score cards ready, and I'll read you my last request Give me a double header funeral in Wrigley Field On some sunny weekend day (no lights) Have the organ play the National Anthem and then a little "na, na, na, hey hey, hey, Goodbye" Make six bullpen pitchers, carry my coffin and six ground keepers clear my path Have the umpires bark me out at every base In all their holy wrath Its a beautiful day for a funeral, Hey Ernie lets play two! Somebody go get Jack Brickhouse to come back, and conduct just one more interview Have the Cubbies run right out into the middle of the field, Have Keith Moreland drop a routine fly Give everybody two bags of peanuts and a frosty malt And I'll be ready to die Build a big fire on home plate out of your 'Louisville Sluggers' baseball bats, And toss my coffin in Let my ashes blow in the beautiful snow From the prevailing 30 mile an hour south west wind When my last remains go flying over the left field wall Will bid the bleacher bums adieu I will come to my final resting place, out on Waveland Avenue The dying man's friends told him to cut it out They said stop it that's an awful shame He whispered, "Don't Cry, we'll meet by and by near the Heavenly Hall of Fame He said I've got season's tickets to watch the Angels now, So its just what I'm going to do He said but you the living, you're stuck here with the Cubs, So its me that feels sorry for you! And he said "Ahh Play, play that lonesome losers tune, The one I like the best And he closed his eyes, and slipped away What we got is the Dying Cub fan's last request (Chorus, big finish, sung) Do they still play the blues in Chicago When baseball season rolls around When the snow melts away, Do the Cubbies still play In their ivy covered burial ground When I was a boy they were my pride and joy But now they only bring fatigue To the home of the brave The land of the free And the doormat of the national league

  • Stacy6 (unverified)
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    I can't believe no one has mention "Land of Confusion" yet.

    My favorite bits:

    Ooh superman where are you now When everythings gone wrong somehow The men of steel, the men of power Are losing control by the hour.

    ...

    I wont be coming home tonight My generation will put it right Were not just making promises That we know, well never keep.

    Too many men Theres too many people Making too many problems And not much love to go round Cant you see This is a land of confusion.

    Now this is the world we live in And these are the hands were given Use them and lets start trying To make it a place worth fighting for.

    This is the world we live in And these are the names were given Stand up and lets start showing Just where our lives are going to.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gBdUz_IJ4VA

  • Bill R. (unverified)
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    "Be Thou My Vision" 6th century Celtic hymn. It rocks my world!!

  • Slayer (unverified)
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    "Raining Blood"

  • Fr. John-Mark Gilhousen (unverified)
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    "Let the Sun Shine In" ... schmaltzy, musically uninteresting, and perhaps ripe for co-opting by an ad agency for a TV spot, but it relates to a seminal event in my own life...

    Marching on a cold, overcast, Seattle morning, after the Kent State killings, icy rain sprinkling from time to time to make us feel that much more miserable, and reinforce our sense of continuing loss, and dread of a future in which we could see little but endless war...

    We arrived for the downtown peace a huge but disheveled and somewhat dispirited mass, and music was playing over the loudspeakers on the platform as we waited in the cold for the first speech. "Let the Sunshine In" came on, the clouds opened, and a bright day burst forth, warming us not just physically, but with a renewal of hope that we could, in fact, stop the war and even change the world.

    Welcome to the sunshine, dude. And thanks for the post.

    J-M +

  • Mister Tee (unverified)
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    He became a Democrat because he realized that addicts need forgiveness? Seems like there must be more to the story. I know plenty of Republicans who support treatment alternatives to jail.

    I became a Republican after Al Gore started thumping his populist chest in Florida ("we simply ask that they count ALL-DA-VOTES"). Never mind that he had filed suit to force a selective recount in the three most heavily democratic counties, which he had won overwhelmingly.

    It was clear (to me) that Gore was looking for any combination of "undervotes" or "overvotes" that would produce a winning majority. Never mind that the first two counts showed Bush received 500+ more votes. Gore simply expanded the definition of what constitutes a "valid ballot", and then sued for recounts in three Democratic Counties with the expanded definition. And if that hadn't tilted the total vote count to his favor, I'm sure he would have sued for a manual statewide recount. Hoping that sticky fingers could achieve what those dispassionate machines couldn't do.

    Gore wasn't interested in determining the will of the people of Florida, he was interested in winning. But he wrapped himself in the gold framed flag of populism the same way he's wrapped himself with the global warming umbrella today. Hedge funds are saving the planet, ten million dollars at a time. Google and Apple are "green" investments. You can fly on private jets all the time if you buy enough carbon offsets. Bow down, Sheeple.

    Keep in mind that I had volunteered for Gore in 1987-88, and thought Reagan was trying to goad the Soviets into war. After voting straight Democratic tickets for more than a decade, Al Gore and the Florida debacle made me a Republican.

  • genop (unverified)
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    My epiphany song: "Imagine" Perhaps that song's influence informs my sense of hope, then along comes the personification. As for recent tunesmiths, Jonatha Brooke gives perspective: "It's hard not being a hero, and it's hard living in between, here with the lights on, in the dark"

  • Mister Tee (unverified)
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    As for my favorite song: They Dance Alone (Sting) especially the duet with Peter Gabriel in Buenos Aires which was entirely in Spanish.

    Why are these women here dancing on their own? Why is there this sadness in their eyes? Why are the soldiers here Their faces fixed like stone? I can't see what it is they despise -They're dancing with the missing They're dancing with the dead They dance with the invisible ones Their anguish is unsaid -They're dancing with their fathers They're dancing with their sons They're dancing with their husbands They dance alone They dance alone -It's the only form of protest they're allowed I've seen their silent faces they scream so loud If they were to speak these words they'd go missing too Another woman on the torture table what else can they do -They're dancing with the missing They're dancing with the dead They dance with the invisible ones Their anguish is unsaid -They're dancing with their fathers They're dancing with their sons They're dancing with their husbands They dance alone They dance alone -One day we'll dance on their graves One day we'll sing our freedom One day we'll laugh in our joy And we'll dance -One day we'll dance on their graves One day we'll sing our freedom One day we'll laugh in our joy And we'll dance -Ellas danzan con los desaparecidos Danzan con los muertos Danzan con amores invisibles Con silenciosa angustia Danzan con sus padres Con sus hijos Con sus esposos Ellas danzan solas Danzan solas -Hey Mr. Pinochet You've sown a bitter crop It's foreign money that supports you One day the money's going to stop -No wages for your torturer No budget for your gun Can you think of your own mother Dancin' with her invisible son -They're dancing with the missing They're dancing with the dead They dance with the invisible ones Their anguish is unsaid -They're dancing with their fathers They're dancing with their sons They're dancing with their husbands They dance alone They dance alone

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    Nothing gets me going faster than "Holiday" by Green Day, the first mainstream group to come out with an anti-Bush album.

  • DeanOR (unverified)
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    This is the true meaning of humility and its importance in spiritual health. Music is very important to me, but I have found this understanding in other people and in nature more than in a song, so none comes to mind right now. Good work Kevin. Well, maybe a Puccini aria or Which Side Are You On.

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    I'm a big fan of folk these days; it's something about how it soothes and has a big message.

    Stuff like James Taylor. His voice is butter.

    Although I listen to a lot of 60s, 70s, and 80s pop/rock at work.

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    I can really relate to that, Ben. I've come to appreciate pop/folk music more and more as I get older.

    Quick pop question for anyone reading this thread: Do you remember when 620 AM on the radio dial, where KPOJ is today, was "KGW 62" and played a steady diet of current pop songs? I came of age listening to that station. I remember they used to have Casey Kassem's Top 40 countdown every Friday night. My older brother was heavily into KGON 92 FM back then and I remember flat out not getting the appeal of what he was listening to. But as I got older I got into classic rock and now I love those 60s and 70s rock and pop song, even though they were all hits before I came of age and became interested in pop music.

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    There are so many artists out there whose passion and convictions speak to my own, but here are a few from over the years:

    Against Me! - The Politics of Starving Ten Years After - I'd Love to Change the World Quasi - Peace and Love Lou Reed - Dirty Boulevard Clapton - Politician Rx Bandits - In All Rwanda's Glory

  • JenS (unverified)
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    I love all kinds of music and my favorite easily changes depending on whats going on in my life. Current favorite is Mary J Blige 'Be without You'. My partner is very focused on his career and this song helps keep me thinking of the big picture, because I am definately not blessed with anything resembling patience, lol.

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    Free Four--Pink Floyd Another one bites the dust--Freddy Mercury Last time you're gonna let me down--Eurythmics Teen Spirit--Nirvana Excitable Boy & Big Gorilla--Warren Zevon Thrashers--Neil Young Paper in the Wind--Tom Petty Lonesome way back when--Tom Jans No Romance--Rainmakers

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    Quasi - Peace and Love

    Yes! Local talent!

    Add "Death Culture Blues" from the same album to my list. My wife and I saw them New Year's before last and they WERE FANTASTIC.

  • hubbird (unverified)
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    All time favorite is "The Pamphleteer" by the Weakerthans. Almost all of their songs are political to one degree or another, but they often blur the line between the personal and the political, which speaks to me deeply. "The Pamphleteer" is a song like that. This is the anthemic last verse:

    The rhetoric and treason of saying that I'll miss you. Of saying "Hey, well maybe you should stay." Sing "Oh what force on earth could be weaker than the feeble strength of one" like me remembering the way it could have been. Help me with this barricade. No surrender. No defeat. A spectre's haunting Albert Street. I am your pamphleteer.

    The quotation, "What force on earth could be weaker than the feeble strength of one," is from Solidarity Forever, and old union hymn -- sung here by Pete Seeger.

    Pete Seeger also makes an important and inspiring footnote to his version of "We Shall Overcome":

    The most important verse is the one they wrote down in Montgomery, Alabama. They said, "We are not afraid." And the young people taught everybody else a lesson. All the older people that had learned how to compromise and learned how to take it easy and be polite and get along and leave things as they were. The young people taught us all a lesson. We are not afraid. We are not afraid. We are not afraid today. Oh deep in my heart, I do believe we shall overcome some day.

    Another artist not yet mentioned here, but maybe my favorite politically oriented songwriter ever, is Phil Ochs. You probably know "When I'm Gone" with the great line:

    Won't see the golden of the sun when I'm gone And the evenings and the mornings will be one when I'm gone Can't be singing louder than the guns when I'm gone So I guess I'll have to do it while I'm here
  • hubbird (unverified)
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    Oh, I forgot what is probably my favorite anti-war song of all time, The Band Played Waltzing Matilda, by Eric Bogle. I know it from the Pogues' version from Rum Sodomy and the Lash. I still get goosebumpy and misty-eyed when I hear this song.

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    Rx Bandits - In All Rwanda's Glory

    Ah, excellent suggestion! My parents were living in Kigali Rwanda when the genocide broke out. Turning a blind eye to it until most of the slaughter was through is one of the things that I don't believe I'll ever fully forgive Bill Clinton for.

    My personal fav along racial lines is Creed's "One"

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    I just have to say that although I don't recognize some of the songs being shouted out here... I just love the fact that you all feel passionately enough about whatever the songs are to want to share both that passion and the song with the rest of us. That's seriously good stuff!

    I'd also like to say that I am very appreciative of how everyone has largely set aside current political biases to step back and just look at the larger, much more enduring picture.

    Thanks!

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    "What's So Funny 'Bout Peace Love and Understanding" (Nick Lowe, but mostly known by Elvis Costello version) "Peace In Our Time" (Costello) "Imagine" (John Lennon) "Short Memories" (Graham Parker) "Democracy Is Coming To The USA" (Leonard Cohen - Don Henley version at http://www.talkleft.com/story/2007/1/4/1235/13850)

    Kevin, glad to have you with us, in every sense of the expression!

  • Roberto Gutierrez Cota (unverified)
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    Real anti-war songs are ones that soldiers choose as anthems. During Vietnam it was Creedence Clearwater's "Bad Moon Rising." In the Iraq invasion it may have been Kumbia Kings "Fuego." "The roof, the roof, the roof is on fire! "We don't need no water, "Let the fucker burn!"

  • David McDonald (unverified)
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    OK... let me take a crack at this.

    1.) Lives In The Balance- Jackson Browne 2.) Takin' It To The Streets- Dooby Bros. 3.) Whitey On The Moon- Gil Scott Heron 4.) Stand and Fight- James (the real J.T.) Taylor 5.) So Long- Majek Fashek

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)
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    Here's a quick list:

    Imagine - John Lennon

    Masters of War - Bob Dylan

    It's Alright, Ma, (I'm Only Bleeding) - Bob Dylan

    If I Had A Rocket Launcher - Bruce Cockburn

    Call It Democracy - Bruce Cockburn

    Rebel Music - Bob Marley

    No Woman No Cry - Bob Marley

    Get Up Stand Up - Bob Marley

    War - Bob Marley

    So Much Things To Say - Bob Marley

    I'm Your Man - Leonard Cohen

    Wasteland of the Free - Iris Dement

    Talkin' Bout A Revolution - Traci Chapman

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    Jimmy Buffett recorded "Banana Republics" on "A1A" which is easily his best album; a beautiful recording (he did several Goodman songs and was a friend of Steve's; he was one of the gang on the cover of Steve's "Someone Else's Troubles" album, along with John Prine). my sons know that when i go, the one song that will be played at my service will be "Tin Cup Chalice" from "A1A" -- in fact, i named my political blog just that.

    there's not enough space for all the songs i could name, starting with Prine, moving on to John Hiatt, Emmylou, Nanci Griffith, Sara Hickman... oy. love me my music.

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    For those who might not have heard the song, I'll post the lyrics here...

    Matchbox Twenty, How Far We've Come

    Waking up at the start of the end of the world, But its feeling just like every morning before, Now I wonder what my life is going to mean if its gone, The cars are moving like a half a mile an hour if that I started staring at the passengers waving goodbye Can you tell me what was ever really special about me all this time

    [chorus] But I believe the world is burning to the ground Oh well I guess we're gonna find out Let's see how far we've come Let's see how far we've come

    Well I, believe, its all, coming to an end Oh well, I guess, we're gonna pretend, Let's see how far we've come Let's see how far we've come

    I think its turning to a crock but I don't really know I can't remember caring for an hour or so Started crying and I couldn't stop myself I started running but there was no where to run to I sat down on the street and took a look at myself Said where you going you know the world is heading for hell Say your goodbyes if you've got someone you can say goodbye to

    [chorus] I believe the world is burning to the ground Oh well I guess we're gonna find out Let's see how far we've come Let's see how far we've come

    Well I, believe, its all, coming to an end Oh well, I guess, we're gonna pretend, Let's see how far we've come Let's see how far we've come

    Its gone gone baby its all gone There is no one on the corner and there's no one at home It was cool cool, it was just all cool Now it's over for me and it's over for you Well its gone gone baby its all gone There is no one on the corner and there's no one at home Well it was cool cool, it was just all cool Now it's over for me and it's over for you

    [chorus] But I believe the world is burning to the ground Oh well I guess we're gonna find out Let's see how far we've come Let's see how far we've come Well I, believe, its all, coming to an end Oh well, I guess, we're gonna pretend, Let's see how far we've come Let's see how far we've come Let's see how far we've come Let's see how far we've come Let's see how far we've come Let's see how far we've come Let's see how far we've come Let's see how far we've come Let's see how far we've come

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    I hope that I'm not the only one watching the John Denver special on OPB right now. He's right up there with Paul Simon in terms of a musical poet. And of course he was a serious and very influential environmental activist.

    In memory of John Denver - Annie's Song

    That song just melts me every time I hear it. But I loved everything he did. He was truely and infectious spirit who, it seems to me, was very much a kindred spirit with Pete Seeger.

  • Lew Frederick (unverified)
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    Okay... so it fits my candidate for President, Obama, still I am enjoying the fact that people are playing this: Yes we can can The Allen Toussaint lyrics work for me as well: Lyrics

    My longer list goes back to gospel, folk and rock songs well into the 50's, 60's and 70's.

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