Protest songs

The Guardian have really got the bug for lists, and the silly witch reads most of them. With books it was exciting to see what they picked, so I could moan about their poor choice. This time it’s music, and unlike with books it doesn’t take much effort to know a song. You can know rather a lot of songs, simply through inertia. Unless the selection is flawed. Or possibly it’s just me who’s flawed.

Have just had a quick look through the ‘protest and politics’ list, and for someone who listened to a lot of protest songs once, I know very few of the ones they have chosen. Most of mine are Swedish, and the question I don’t know the answer to, is where the Swedish songs so much better, or does one tend to be more interested in protest closer to home?

If I dare mention the credit crunch, I’ve been struck in recent months by how well some of my old tracks from the 1970s fit in with the current situation. Lines about corrupt politicians and companies are more relevant than ever. There is a song called Herkules written and performed by my old favourites Hoola Bandoola Band. I tried finding it on YouTube, but failed. So I’ll link to some other tracks instead.

Hoola Bandoola were unusual in that they sang in a south Swedish dialect, which changed how a lot of singers behaved. The image of them that comes to mind the most, is hearing them live for the first time. They played in the hall at the ‘other’ sixth form college in my home town. None of the girls from my school were there, but the boys were, whatever that says about us. Afterwards the band sold their LPs from the stage, and I remember kneeling next to the lead singer as he hunted for change.

I don’t think they were ever that ‘small’ again, and the last time I saw them was at the concert hall in Gothenburg. Björn Afzelius, the lead singer from the stage floor, died about ten years ago, at far too early an age. His counterpart, Mikael Wiehe, is still big in the music world, and as far as I know has not compromised on their political stance.

One of their songs, Juanita, feels surprisingly dated now. It’s strange how you tend to forget that Spain was once regarded as an unsuitable place, politically, to go for your holiday. The other big issue in those days was Chile, and Hoola Bandoola wrote a song for Victor Jara.

I’ve always played their music, but right now I play more Hoola Bandoola Band than I have done for years.

The last one is just a short, interrupted, video of Björn singing Bläckfisken (The Octopus) live, and I really don’t know what the horse is doing there at the end.

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2 responses to “Protest songs

  1. Has the Resident IT consultant ever sung you the Scottish Marxist-Leninist version of ‘Green Grow the Rushes O’?

    ‘ … Twelve for the chimes of the Kremlin clock and eleven for the holes in Trotsky’s heid …’

  2. You’re joking! When not listening to Bach, he can sing ‘pom, pom, pom’ out of tune.

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