All Together Now for the Save Our NHS demo this weekend
Peter Hooton, lead singer of The Farm, explains why the band are supporting the Save Our NHS rally on Sunday and looks at the link between music and politics.
We’re proud to be involved in the TUC rally because we’re concerned about the destructive policies this Tory-led government is pursuing. Their policies are targeting the most vulnerable and needy in society and they must be stopped. Even the free market zealot Margaret Thatcher decided not to try and attempt to privatise the NHS as it was a ‘bridge too far’ but this current government is pursuing policies which will effectively privatise large sections of our NHS, which used to be the envy of the world.
Our lead guitarist Keith Mullin says when people ask ‘why are you doing this’ he immediately thinks ‘why AREN’T you doing this’. Our current government doesn’t care about people it only cares about its friends in corporate business, about profits and bonuses. The Tories have no right to sell off ‘our NHS’ as it belongs to the people.
The Farm has always been regarded as a ‘political’ band and has been involved in many campaigns over the years including the anti–apartheid movement and numerous fundraising gigs especially during the Miners’ Strike and Liverpool Dockers dispute in the 1990s. All Together Now is an anti-war protest song following in the tradition of music being used as a form of protest.
Music, politics and protest have always been linked. Billy Holliday’s classic Strange Fruit was first recorded in 1939 and is arguably the first recognised ‘protest song’ with its graphic description of a lynching in the Deep South. Woody Guthrie was undoubtedly the first outright ‘political’ songwriter although the ‘blues’ can justifiably be regarded as a form of ‘protest’ music. Guthrie formed a band with Pete Seeger (another early folk hero) called the Almanac Singers during the 1940s. Seeger later went on to record several Guthrie songs with The Weavers. Even though The Weavers had hits, they became victims of McCarthyism and were blacklisted from American radio stations.
Inspired by Guthrie and Seeger, Bob Dylan’s ‘protest songs’ became the soundtrack for the 60s generation and Sam Cooke famously heard Dylan’s Blowin in the Wind and went on to pen one of the greatest protest songs ever written A Change Is Gonna Come.
The Beatles also used songs such as Revolution to highlight the worldwide student protests in the late 1960s and when they split up John Lennon continued with songs like Give Peace A Chance and Imagine and Paul McCartney with songs like Give Ireland Back To the Irish.
It was the punk revolution in the 70s though that provided the anger and the angst for protest songs. Groups such as The Clash, The Sex Pistols, Stiff Little Finger, The Jam and The Specials provided the soundtrack. They were the social commentators of their day and The Clash with songs like Washington Bullets and Spanish Bombs introduced a whole new generation to international politics. Bob Marley with songs like Get Up Stand Up and Redemption Song brought reggae to the masses with a political message and Peter Gabriel recorded a brilliant song called Biko which told the story of the anti-apartheid leader who was killed in custody in South Africa. Free Nelson Mandela by Special AKA was probably the high water mark and defining moment of music being used to get across a political message. Billy Bragg continued the folk tradition of Woody Guthrie and groups like Rage Against the Machine still carry the banner.
Whoever said that politics and music don’t mix – history would appear to contradict that theory!
See you on Sunday.