On the 50th anniversary of Kent State Massacre, listen to the Isley Brothers' "Ohio"


Lest anyone think this isn’t linked, keep in mind that a lot of response to Kent State was not to prevent government violence, but to suppress protest so government didn’t have to deal with the PR problem of its people getting violent.


So where’s our current protest music?

The explosion of recording technology turned music from every family’s DIY pastime, into a consumer item. That combined with the gradual suffocation of public school music programs. The number of people whose parents sang to them as babies decreased sharply, while the number of people who say things like, “my kid’s really musical, he watches American Idol all the time” increased exponentially… Then the copyright lawyers swooped in and killed off any living potential that remained.

When it becomes legal for a corporation to claim ownership to what amounts to single words in a language – short phrases of melody and rhythm, some of the smallest possible chunks of coherence in that language – what happens is that that language dies. When it’s illegal to freely copy and distribute print materials and other media – even for education, and especially for education! – that language dies.

Sorry, foul mood today. Deep in discussions about who’s responsible if we get sued for posting the wrong counting-rhyme video on the password-protected school site.


I’m a bit old, so most of what I’m familiar with is from 10-20 years ago, but off the top of my head and trying to avoid anything pre-2000:

Akala. Asian Dub Foundation. Awkword. Beltaine’s Fire. Blue Scholars. Run the Jewels. Lowkey. David Rovics. Xavier Rudd. John Butler Trio. The Coup. Riz MC. Will Varley. Xiangyu. Etc.

Political music didn’t disappear in 1970. You won’t hear much of it on mainstream corporate channels, but it does exist.


Speaking of which…

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“I don’t think I would have started Devo had that not happened,” says Gerald Casale, who formed the band in the early 1970s with Bob Lewis, another Kent State student, survivor and witness. “It’s that simple.”

For Casale, the day’s events seemed to temporarily halt time. He recalls seeing the soldiers lining up and aiming their weapons at the assembled students. In the moment, he thought it was just an intimidation tactic. Instead, and without warning, they opened fire. “I remember hearing somebody screaming ‘Allison!,’ and I turned around and it was Allison Krause, she’s laying there,” Casale says, referring to one of the four students killed in the shooting. “I see the effects of a f—ing M1 rifle, the reality of what a bullet does. And I felt like I was going to barf, like I was going to pass out.”



A few samples…

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