As the People Powered #OurNHS gig takes over the O2 Academy this Saturday with MICK HEAD, JAMES SKELLY, HOOTON TENNIS CLUB, EDGAR JONES, KATHRYN WILLIAMS and STEVE PILGRIM, we asked some of the artists on the bill to talk us through their favourite protest songs. A bid to raise awareness of the current plight of the NHS, all proceeds from the gig will be donated to the Health Campaigns Together group who campaign tirelessly to fight cuts to the NHS’ funding. Listen to our full playlist, as chosen by HOOTON TENNIS CLUB, EDGAR JONES and JAMES SKELLY (with some extras picked by us at Bido HQ), and find out about the reasons behind their choices below.

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Mahalia Jackson – Keep Your Hand on the Plow

This has got me back on my feet on several occasions with its “keep chipping away”. And as a sub can I have Freedom by Charles Mingus? Another great one.

Edgar Jones

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Bob Dylan – Ballad of a Thin Man

During this election the chorus should be re-written as, “You know something is happening and you’ve been told what it is, but you’re still not listening are you Mr. Jones?”

Edgar Jones

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Robert Wyatt – The Age of Self

“They say the working class is dead, we’re all consumers now / They say that we have moved ahead, we’re all just people now / There’s people doing ‘frightfully well’ there’s others on the shelf”

A frightfully insightful and thoughtful song, sang with a painful sense of urgency and sincerity. It’s barefaced yet purposeful and it’s message is as potent as the was the day it was written.

James, Hooton Tennis Club

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Robert Wyatt – Alliance

“You say you’re self sufficient, but you don’t dig your own coal.”

I know, I copped out and selected two Robert Wyatt songs. He somehow perfectly balances writing songs about the ugly and beastly things that happen in the world with a melancholic sense of beauty and wonder. He is a true human who’s wondrous mind believes in creativity, love and other stuff for the human race.

James, Hooton Tennis Club

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The Beatles – Revolution

I’ve gone big. Partly an anti Vietnam song, partly Lennon’s reflection on his own thoughts about violence and war, this was the first song recorded for The White Album sessions. A quintessential protest anthem.

Callum, Hooton Tennis Club

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James Brown – Say It Loud – I’m Black and I’m Proud

I recently watched a BBC documentary about Funk music. In it, a member of James Brown’s band describes the feeling of playing this song to a crowd of around 30,000 people in Houston for the very first time. The emotion exuding from him shows why this song was, and still is, very important.

Callum, Hooton Tennis Club

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Elvis Presley – If I Can Dream

If I Can Dream was written and recorded shortly after the deaths of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy. Elvis’ vocal is big and powerful and soft and emotional and meaningful and righteous. The song is a call for peace and social equality and apparently Elvis was so moved by the lyrics that he said he would never sing another song that he didn’t believe in.

Harry, Hooton Tennis Club

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Randy Newman – Political Science

Political Science is a song about US foreign policy and globalisation. The narrator wants to bomb the rest of the world, sparing only Australia – he don’t want to hurt no kangaroo. Maybe the narrator is supposed to be a political figure in America, possibly the president? Thank God that this song is only an outdated satire and that the US isn’t being led by someone so ignorant, ill-equipped, and unaware. Hey-oh! Watch out Ian Hislop, I’m coming for you.

Harry, Hooton Tennis Club

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Public Enemy – Fight The Power

“Our freedom of speech is freedom or death we got to fight the powers that be / What we need is awareness, we can’t get get careless / Elvis was a hero to most, but he never meant shit to me you see / Straight up racist that sucker was simple and plain…”

Ryan, Hooton Tennis Club

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Beastie Boys – Fight For Your Right (To Party)

Youth = Rebellion

Ryan, Hooton Tennis Club

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Bob Marley – Redemption Song

In a way every song he ever wrote was a protest song but this is my favourite. It’s so sad but there’s no self pity in it. “Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery none but our selves can free our minds” is such a powerful lyric – it’s biblical but without trying to preach. I first heard it when I was kid, I knew what it meant and every time I hear it it has the same impact.

James Skelly

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Bob Dylan – Only a Pawn in their Game

To me this is the greatest protest song of all time. It’s an angel – most deal in black and white, left and right, but this looks in to the shades of grey. Often people are seduced by what seem like simple solutions to complex problems but there are so many levels to be considered. This song was a life lesson for me I will never forget.

James Skelly

 

People Powered #OurNHS takes place on Saturday 10th June at O2 Academy Liverpool. Tickets are available here and all proceeds will go to Health Campaigns Together. 

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