August 15, 2010

Favourite Political Tracks

Back in July I was interviewed by Chris Jury for his programme Agitpop on North Cotswold Community Radio (NCCR), and asked to select the 10 'political' records that have moved/influenced me the most.  As you can see, I decided to interpret 'political' in the broadest, largely Aristotelian sense.  You can now listen to the programme in full at  Here are the tracks I chose, in no particular order:

Nina Simone: Aint Got No (I Got Life)

Nina Simone: Mississippi Goddam

Verdi: Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves

Leonard Cohen: Everybody Knows

Barry McGuire: Eve of Destruction

John Lennon: Working Class Hero

Emmylou Harris: Deeper Well

Clash: London Calling

Rolling Stones: Gimme Shelter

Beethoven: Ode to Joy

In the event, there wasn't time for the Beethoven, and we ended with Gimme Shelter. But that proved a terrific finale, with its move from the extreme fragility of human life and happiness - so devastatingly captured in the scene from Apocalypse Now where it is used as a soundtrack - to the tentative possibility of love and redemption at the end.  Overall, I wanted a rousing mix of the human spirit enduring and ultimately soaring in the face of adversity - Aint Got No (I Got Life); Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves; Deeper Well, coruscating anger against injustice and hypocrisy - Mississippi Goddam; Eve of Destruction -and sly, sardonic wit - Everybody Knows; Working Class Hero.  London Calling is, admittedly, not exactly a political song - certainly in its lyrics - but I can never hear its raw. pounding energy without wanting to get up and change the world, at least for a bit.  It would be my choice to open the London Olympics.

So what are your favourite 'political' songs (interpreted as loosely as you like)?  Do let me know via this blog or Twitter (

- 5 comments by 0 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. James Zborowski

    This got me very excited, and I felt the urge to reply immediately! More will probably occur to me later, but my first thoughts are (in no particular order – and I’m surer of the artists than the specific tracks!):

    Sam Cooke – A Change is Gonna Come
    Bob Dylan – A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall
    Bruce Springsteen – The River
    Steve Earle – Copperhead Road
    Billy Bragg – Rotting on Remand
    Woody Guthrie – This Land is Your Land
    John Coltrane – Alabama
    Billie Holiday – Strange Fruit
    Jarvis Cocker – Running the World
    Marvin Gaye – What’s Going On
    Drive By Truckers – The Three Great Alabama Icons

    15 Aug 2010, 23:01

  2. Sue

    I love anything like this. I’ll have to think about it before I let you know.

    15 Aug 2010, 23:29

  3. Sue

    If I were a Carpenter The Four Tops

    Common People Jarvis Cocker

    Up the Ladder to the Roof The Supremes

    War! Edwin Starr

    Sex by Proxy Rufus Wainwright

    If God was a DJ ?

    One Love Bob Marley

    Days Kinks

    A hard Rain is Gonna Fall Bryan Ferry

    18 Aug 2010, 00:03

  4. John

    It’s not necessarily political but I love “She Gives me the Chills” by Lucas Renney

    06 Sep 2010, 22:57

  5. John

    Maybe in the broadest sense of the word.

    06 Sep 2010, 22:58

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