Dissent: American As Apple Pie: Top 20 Punk Protest Songs

From Pop Matters:

As punks might insist, Independence Day in the United States is not a time simply to recall the intent of the American founders in blind, passive faith stirred by clichés, but a time to wrestle with agitation and unease, dissent and antithetical body politics, that have stirred this country from the soapbox tirades of Thomas Paine and Emma Goldman to the modern media subversion of Noam Chomsky and Jello Biafra.

The American experience is honeycombed with diverse forms of recalcitrance, which is why the country is such a noble experiment in liberty and justice, though these traits fall short periodically. These songs don’t necessarily symbolize transgression or sedition; instead, they symbolize a yearning to speak openly and freely about the system binding us together as a whole, despite different places of origin, creeds, ethnicity, worldviews, and ideologies. America grows strong and steady, ripe and democratic, when people speak frankly about the issues making their hearts boil. These songs represent stirring dissatisfaction with the status quo, including the endless trivial pursuits of masses ignoring the loopholes and pitfalls of the American dream.

I wanted this list to highlight the perspectives of native citizen-singers, though I did include D.O.A., a fountainhead of foment from Canada, who have toured the United States like brothers-in-arms to stateside punks for 30 years. Loads of protest songs aimed at America spill from foreign shores, like “I’m So Bored with the U.S.A.” by the Clash (England) and “The Greatest American Zero” by BGK (Netherlands). They may be trenchant tunes, but this July 4th list, imperfect and motley as any mix-tape, is not about global complaints.

Lastly, democracy is brusque, messy, and intemperate, just like these songs. I didn’t want to look at punk frozen in time, though. So, in some cases, I have chosen contemporary tunes by veteran bands, proving their idealism doesn’t wilt as they endure middle age. Such veterans remain vitriolic.

Continue to see the list at Popmatters