By RICHARD MORIN
The Washington Post
WASHINGTON — Those professional bleeding hearts over at the American Sociological Association have helpfully put together a list of the "essential" protest songs of the past five decades and published it in the latest issue of the journal Contexts.
Fourteen tunes made the cut, including such standards as "We Shall Overcome," Bob Dylan's "The Times They Are A-Changin'" and the 1930s union anthem "Which Side Are You On?"
Other notable selections:
— "Fight the Power" by Public Enemy. "An exuberant hip-hop call to arms," the editors declared of this 1989 mega-hit.
— "Respect" by Otis Redding and performed by Aretha Franklin, a song that proves "the personal is political."
— "Say It Loud (I'm Black and I'm Proud)" by James Brown. The Godfather of Soul also had a way with black-power anthems.
— "I Ain't Marching Anymore" by Phil Ochs. "An antiwar classic, complete with a revisionist history of American militarism," the editors wrote.
— "Strange Fruit" by Abel Meeropol and performed by Billie Holiday. "Chilling protest against lynching. Maybe the greatest protest song of all time." (Meeropol, a New York City schoolteacher, later adopted the children of executed spies Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.)
— "Lift Every Voice and Sing" lyrics by James Weldon Johnson; music by J. Rosamond Johnson. These accomplished brothers wrote what is "known as the 'Black National Anthem' — the antidote to 'America, the Beautiful.'"
+ I'd probably buy the CD or iTunes playlist, if they put one out.
+ One little quibble: "America the Beautiful' doesn't need an antidote. You might think 'The Star-Spangled Banner' needs an antidote (you know, 'martial glory' and all that). At any rate, 'Lift Every Voice...' is a nice song.