PHOTO ESSAY

Rebel Yells

A protest music mixtape

By Matthew McKinnon
August 12, 2005
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Illustration by Jillian Tamaki Illustration by Jillian Tamaki

Early last week, Newsweek broke word about Sweet Neo Con, a new song by the Rolling Stones that is expected to appear on their forthcoming A Bigger Bang album. “You call yourself a Christian, I call you a hypocrite / You call yourself a patriot, well I think you’re full of s---,” and “It’s liberty for all, democracy’s our style / Unless you are against us, then it’s prison without trial,” Mick Jagger sings, in lyrics that seem to smack U.S. President George W. Bush.

A lengthy list of musicians has bashed Bush and his policies. The Dixie Chicks’ Natalie Maines ripped him from a London concert stage in 2003. Last summer, Bruce Springsteen penned a New York Times op-ed that, without naming the president, all but demanded his defeat. Springsteen then joined the Chicks, R.E.M., James Taylor and assorted left-leaning performers on a “Vote For Change” concert tour. And a week before last November’s U.S. election, Eminem released an anti-Bush video for his song Mosh; it showed a horde of disaffected youth storming the White House. Jagger denied a direct Bush connection soon after the story appeared online, but said, “[Sweet Neo Con] is certainly very critical of certain policies of the administration, but so what! Lots of people are critical.”

He was right. Protest music has existed since the first time a caveman got short-changed on mammoth soup by the campfire. For millennia since, people have used the power of song to express their disagreement with political ideas, slavery, militarism, economic oppression and myriad social concerns.

With that in mind, we present an imaginary mixtape — OK, playlist, since you’re probably one of those new-fangled technophiles — of some of the world’s loudest rebel yells.

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