Music Scribe Shocked, Shocked at Lack of Protest Songs in 2011


Chicago Tribune writer Greg Kot looks back at the year in music with a mournful glance.

Where are all the great Occupy Wall Street songs we should be singing as 2011 gives way to a brave new year? After all, singers have been belting out protest songs for generations, and what crooner could resist the siren song of spoiled 20-somethings looking for a handout?

Jackson Browne OWS

Maybe artists don’t feel equipped to write songs about the recession and the Arab Spring just yet, but you would think that the Occupy Wall Street movement might’ve sparked a few protest songs by now. In contrast with the outpouring of musical commentary inspired by America’s invasion of Iraq in 2003 (dozens of outraged songs from R.E.M., the Beastie Boys, Billy Bragg and countless others), iPods aren’t exactly being rocked in 2011 with the sounds of discontent.

It’s typical of the media bias that infects not just the news you read but the entertainment content coming your way.

It’s fine to note that the music industry hasn’t rallied the troops around OWS, although a few singer-songwriters like Jackson Browne performed for the unwashed protesters, and an album or two dedicated to the cause may be forthcoming.

But what about the other protest topics? Solyndra? Crony capitalism run amok? The Cornhusker Kickback? War with Libya? A president who promises austerity but can’t stop taking tony vacations on the public’s dime? Does Kot miss the need for those protests?

They probably never crossed his mind.

And what about the Tea Party movement? Doesn’t it deserve a theme song, or does a protest require a string of arrests – and much, much worse – before it grabs the attention of today’s musically inclined folk?


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