Walking by the Capitol Wednesday morning, after a ceaseless night of testimonies against the budget repair bill heard within, pedestrians and protesters alike were greeted by the sounds of crowd commotion, chants, cheers…and “I Gotta Feeling” by the Black Eyed Peas. Not to entirely criticize whoever decided to exercise their freedom to incite passion among crowd members – music is an incomparable addition to any such event – but “Livin’ on a Prayer” by Bon Jovi was not exactly cutting it. We, the ArtsEtc. editors, have compiled a brief list of songs that are sure to keep the revolution going strong, no matter where a person’s party lines are drawn.
Tracy Chapman: “Talkin’ ’bout a Revolution”
Many songs of this nature are anti-war or anti-police, which certainly doesn’t parallel the events that have taken over Madison this week. Tracy Chapman’s “Talkin’ ’bout a Revolution” seems to fit the event most accurately, however. Chapman often writes her songs about social justice, and the lines “Sitting around waiting for a promotion/ Don’t you know you’re talking about a revolution” poignantly speak to some of the worries about Governor Walker’s bill.
Talib Kweli: “Beautiful Struggle”
Talib Kweli takes revolution head on, on a more contemporary note than Chapman (indicated by his reference to a 2000 film: “‘Cause opportunity shrivel away like Tom Hanks in ‘Cast Away’”). Kweli is often referenced as one of the most sage and eloquent of hip hop artists, and in “Beautiful Struggle” it is difficult not to see that fact in his words, “And these folks jump out the pot when the water too hot Cause the fire boils inside,” garnering images of the Capitol rotunda besieged with protesters.
Tegan & Sara: “Proud”
“Proud” was released on the Canadian twins’ first album, Under Feet Like Ours. Who knows what subject of pride inspired them to write this track (presumably it wasn’t a Wisconsin political issue) but when Tegan (or is it Sara?) sings “Freedom’s rough/ So we take our stand and fight for tomorrow” there are thousands circling the Square who can relate.
Ben Harper: “Both Sides of the Gun”
After opening for President Obama this fall it wouldn’t make much sense if we didn’t attempt to resurrect the sonic activism and passion Harper established in front of the readied campus crowd earlier this year. “One dimensional fool/ In a three-dimensional world” resonates as a verse of lyrics that could easily be transformed into a tension-releasing chant.
The Clash: “Clampdown”
Notorious for their politically-infused lyrics, The Clash is a soundtrack staple for any breed of bureaucratic upheaval. With a steady beat conducive to marching and lyrics like, “Let fury have the hour, anger can be power/ D’you know that you can use it”? the rebellious nature of this English punk-rock rouser translates seamlessly to the frustration and sustaining hope felt by tireless protesters congregating within the Rotunda.
Though the Black Eyed Peas’ “Pump It” may be a preferred tune for your Friday night kegger, it’s times like these when we can cue up the classic protesting songs of eras gone by and sincerely experience their significance.