Protest anthems past and present

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Childish Gambino. Credit: Eli Watson/CC BY 2.0.

Americans have a long history of expressing our opinions in the form of protest against what we view as injustices. And being a nation with a flair for the dramatic, we have often shaped those words of protest into songs! 

Powerful musical messages have moved many listeners over the past century, from folk legends like Woody Guthrie to jazz greats like Nina Simone to "hippie" reactionaries like Crosby, Stills & Nash, and more recently, numerous punk and hip-hop artists. Even a band as Dionysian as The Doors managed to create one of the most intense anti-war songs of all time: "The Unknown Soldier."

KCRW DJ Eric J Lawrence says he wonders what the Boston Tea Party participants were singing while dumping the cargo into the harbor. 

Here are a few protest songs from Woodstock to now. 


Childish Gambino “This Is America”
The Doors - “The Unknown Soldier”
Green Day “American Idiot”
Barry McGuire “Eve Of Destruction”