London, May 5: A 100-strong choir trills the chorus line in a mass campfire singalong as a thin but resolute voice calls out: “Let’s impeach the President for lying/And misleading our country into war/Abusing all the powers that we gave him/ And shipping all our money out the door.”
The creator of this piece of polemic is no young firebrand, however, but a 60-year-old rock veteran.
Harnessing the power of the Internet, Neil Young has released a quickly recorded, download album of old-fashioned protest songs, entitled Living With War.
“I was waiting for someone to come along, some young singer 18 to 22 years old, to write these songs and stand up,” he said. “I waited a long time. Then I decided that maybe the generation that has to do this is still the sixties generation. We’re still here.”
Indeed they are. And still angry, apparently. Bruce Springsteen, once hailed as “the new Bob Dylan”, arrives in Britain this week with a 17-member band playing some of the songs that first inspired Dylan to rail against the inequities of the world.
The 55-year-old Springsteen has just released We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions, tapping into classics of the folk movement, led by Pete Seeger, that fuelled the sixties protest genre. Although a vocal critic of George W. Bush, Springsteen has claimed his show is not politically driven, yet the songs are rich in allusion and it is hard to deny the contemporary parallels in his moving version of Mrs McGrath, the lament of a mother whose son is crippled in a foreign war.
There is also something stirring about hearing modern audiences lend their voices to the original hymn of the protest movement, Seeger’s We Shall Overcome. Evidently, the original protesters did not overcome, but at least they are still protesting.