My top 10 songs to listen to on polling day
By Zan Azlee
Every time when the general election comes along, I get excited because of all the possibilities and opportunities it holds. It doesn’t matter if at the end of the day, the results just disappoint us. Hope will still be there.
And every time when the campaigning ends and the day of polling starts, I will compile a playlist on my phone of songs that will excite me as I drive to the polling centre in the morning. By the time I get to my centre, I am pretty riled up. So I thought I would share with you my top ten songs that I play on the morning of polling day.
1. “Take the power back” – Rage Against The Machine
Rage Against The Machine is known to be a protest band that writes very hard and rousing songs. They combine rock, punk, heavy metal and hip-hop to come with very powerful music. “Take the power back” is a song that is telling people to take back the authority from the authorities and bring it back to the rightful owners – the people.
2. “Do you hear the people sing?” – Les Miserables
I just got back from watching the musical Les Miserables at the West End in London, and let me tell you, watching it with an orchestra can really get your goosebumps going.
Les Miserables is set during the French Revolution and tells the story of a group of students who decide to fight against the corrupt elite. They eventually die, though, and it is quite a depressing story. But the song is one of the most powerful scenes ever.
3. “The times they are a-changin’” – Bob Dylan
You cannot include a playlist of songs about political change without a Bob Dylan song. He wrote the song in 1965 with hopes that it would become an anthem that would influence change in society.
The lyrics are universal enough that it has stood the test of time. The song has been covered by a dozen artists including Bruce Springsteen, Phil Collins and Simon and Garfunkel.
4. “Icky thump” – The White Stripes
The White Stripes were a rock and punk band that was simple and stripped down. It consisted of only Jack White on the guitars and Meg White on the drums.
The song “Icky thump” is a criticism of American immigration policy and how they are closing off when it comes to allowing migrants in to build a better life for themselves. It is specifically an American song, but the theme of recognising humans as equals is quite inspiring. And the tune is catchy as hell too!
5. “Get up, stand up” – Bob Marley and The Wailers
Here is another classic protest song. Bob Marley wrote this song when he was in Haiti and was appalled by the level of poverty that most of its people were suffering from. It’s a straightforward song that calls people to fight for their own rights and that nobody is going to do it for them but themselves.
In an interview in 1975, Marley said that this song is his message to people that “man can live”. His intended the song to be a rally call and a prayer as well. The song is so groovy that it would be hard not to move your body to it.
6. “F*ck the police” – NWA
Gangsta rap has always been notoriously rebellious yet rooted in deep oppression, especially that suffered by the black community in America. Although this song was very controversial when it was released in 1988, it was seen as a perfect social commentary of how the community suffered in the hands of the authorities. It is a violent and crude song that showed disapproval of police violence against the black community. The song is an angry one and it tells that people no longer can stand for any unfair nonsense from the authorities.
7. “Blowin’ in the wind” – Bob Dylan
I can’t help it. There needs to be another Bob Dylan song in this list and this has to be one of his most recognisable tunes.
“Blowin’ in the wind” is a song of change and hope that eventually, everything will be okay because you can never stop progress. It is poetic and calm, and listening to it gives me a sense of happiness and serenity, knowing that at the end of the day, people know what is right and will act on it.
8. “Killing in the name” – Rage Against The Machine
The calmness of Dylan still needs an opposite to balance it out and here is another song by the energetic Rage Against The Machine. It is a song written to express disapproval of institutionalised racism. Just like the NWA, it is an angry song and shows that people are sick and tired of what is going on. Enough is enough and this song is hard, catchy, funky and angry enough to get people on their feet.
9. “What’s going on” – Marvin Gaye
This song by the king of soul and motown, Marvin Gaye, is a song protesting the Vietnam War in the 1970s. The song was inspired after a protest that turned violent when police attacked a group of anti-war young demonstrators in Berkeley, California.
It reminds me of past Bersih 3.0 protests in 2012 when demonstrators and police used to often clash. I witnessed personally beatings being committed against protestors by the police. I thank God that incidents like these have become very rare here in Malaysia.
10. “Times like these” – Foo Fighters
[This article was originally written for and published at Malaysiakini.com]
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Great selection! I’d also add The Byrds’ “Turn Turn Turn” to the list.