As the oldest member of the Live for Live Music family, I’ve lived through my share of political turmoil. I dearly hold onto the progressive ideals that shaped our country: equality, brotherhood and a mutual respect for all citizens. The election of Donald Trump as President has propelled me back to the 1960s where I lived through the anti-war and anti-Nixon marches. I recall participating in the Vietnam anti-war Moratorium in October 1969 and campaigning in 1972 for the beloved Democratic anti-war candidate George McGovern (the Bernie Sanders of the 60s and 70s). McGovern may have lost the election to Richard Nixon, but like Bernie Sanders his powerful message carried us through. The goal then as it is now is to make the world a better place. Free from hate and fear. The anti-war movement did make a change and expedited the end of the Vietnam war; the media was also responsible in bringing down Richard Nixon.
The initial reaction I felt after Trump was elected was to either move to Canada or stick my head in the sand. But seeing young people protest in many US cities after the election made me realize we are reliving the 1960’s and rather than running away, I know we all need to participate. Young people today are exercising their Constitutional right to assemble and protest. This is a very good thing, and makes this old-timer see that there is a silver lining. Songs are just waiting to be written that speak to the outrage and fear a lot of people are feeling. If you feel strongly that this country is going down the wrong path, then exercise your rights as a citizen to peacefully express your views. It’s an exhilarating feeling to participate in something bigger than your own small circle.
We understand that music can empower political change; music can heal and can unite a disenfranchised youth. Songs that carried a potent political statement back then can motivate this generation as it did during the Viet Nam War era. We’ve been down this road before and history is filled with great protest songs that speak to our troubled past. There were many great protest songs of my generation: The Beatles‘ “Revolution”, Crosby Stills Nash & Young‘s “Ohio”, Barry McGuire‘s “Eve of Destruction”, Creedence Clearwater Revival‘s “Fortunate Son,” and John Lennon‘s “Give Peace a Chance”, just to name a few.
One of the best was Buffalo Springfield’s hit, “For What It’s Worth”. It was the anthem back then and the words still resonate deeply today. From the opening notes, the powerful message carries a timeless theme.
Sometimes there is a very thin line that separate art from politics. Our mission was never to be political, but circumstances sometimes change the narrative. Another great protest song is by Nobel Laureate Bob Dylan, “The Times They Are A-Changin'”. The 2nd verse referring to writers and critics is especially apropos to us and seems quite relevant today.
As in the 1960’s, the unifying component was music. The less troubling days of the Obama administration will soon be history. In the months to come, musicians today will undoubtedly come forth with songs that will carry strong political messages. We will foster and bring forth those songs on this website. If artists need a platform, we will be there in support and ensure that you are heard.
This is our America too and we should all strive to make a difference. We will write and we will participate. We will work hard to make this a better world for you by making sure voices are heard. No less than our first amendment rights of freedom of speech are at stake. We have a greater purpose now and will not shrink from that responsibility.