Rage against the machine

By Paula Gilbert “Music can change the world because it can change people.” U2 front-man Bono said these famous words. Protest music is nothing new; it has been around just as long as war and injustice have existed. In 1985 Bob Geldof and Midge Ure set out to raise funds for famine relief in Ethiopia by throwing the largest charity concert the world had ever seen. Live Aid became a story of legend and raised £150 million. Today, more than 20 years later, artists are still protesting.  

American bands have never been afraid to attack their  government through their music; an example being System of a Down’s song “B.Y.O.B” with the lyrics: “Why don’t presidents fight the war? Why do they always send the poor?”

Anti-war music has continued through bands like Linkin Park, and on their new album, Minutes to Midnight, we find songs that explicitly call for a change in the wars of our world. The hard-hitting lyrics of their song “Hands Held High” have some serious anti-war sentiment. The song states Linkin Park’s responses to the war in Iraq: “Like this war’s just a different brand of war, like it doesn’t cater to the rich and abandon poor.”

More than that there is a direct attack on “a leader so nervous in an obvious way, stuttering and mumbling for nightly news to replay, and the rest of the world watching at the end of the day, both scared and angry, like ‘what did he say?’”. No confusion as to who they’re referring to there.

Others are more concerned with why wars are being fought. John Mayer seems to think that if we continue to impose our beliefs war will never end. The title of his song “Belief” is misunderstood by many until they listen carefully to the message in the lyrics: “We’re never going to win the world, we’re never going to stop the war, we’re never going to beat this if belief is what we’re fighting for.” He seems to agree that the media have too much control over people, singing: “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”.

The latest movement such artists have made is the release of the Amnesty International Make Some Noise, Save Darfur album. It features over 30 artists covering John Lennon songs and raising awareness for the ongoing conflict in Sudan. Amnesty International has also launched a global petition on Darfur to coincide with the digital album. The petition calls on the Sudanese government to allow for a joint African Union and United Nations peacekeeping force to be deployed in Sudan. You too can sign the petition by going to www.noise.amnesty.org.

The music video for Green Day’s contribution to the album “Working Class Hero” shows the stories of actual people living in Darfur, fighting for their lives. After Green Day’s very political and anti-American previous album, American Idiot, with lyrics like: “Don’t want to be an American idiot, one nation controlled by the media,” Green Day were the obvious choice for a contribution to the Amnesty International album.

Maybe Mayer is right, even though it sounds clichéd, “one day our generation is gonna rule the population” so we need to stop waiting for the world to change and change it ourselves.

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