I'm about five turns through the latest Dixie Chicks album, Taking The Long Way. While I'm not generally a fan of country music, this album seems so personal and introspective that I'm rather obsessively drawn to it. Track 14, I Hope is far-and-away my favorite. The song balances worries about some of today's obvious social and political concerns with an optimism about the future.
I wouldn't categorize any of the songs from Taking The Long Way as real protest songs, even though it contains an obvious undertone, and several political messages. Some of my favorite songs are songs of protest, whether the protest is about politics or worries about a changing society. Classics such as those that Dylan and Joan Baez wrote and sang used to move me, as did songs by Arlo Guthrie. Hotel California and The Long Run by The Eagles commented on the dramatic societal changes taking place in America during the late 70s, and speculated on our move toward a more selfish, materialistic lifstyle. Those themes made me like the records for more than just Joe Walsh's wailing guitar.
Seems protest songs are in vogue again, fueled mostly by artists who believe the US government has blundered or squandered many of it's attempts to answer the tragic events of the last several years. The movement can't be ignored: Green Day scored a critical and popular hit with American Idiot; Pearl Jam is back on top with World Wide Suicide; and iconic artists like Neil Young are writing inspired lyrics.
Throughout our history political and social issues have served as muse for great artists. The current wave seems so popular, though, that one can't help but speculate that it represents an increasing and mainstream uneasiness in America.