To recognize the power of protest music, acknowledge its role in keeping dissent alive and how musicians are translating today’s social issues and systemic problems into song, The Dissenter has decided to launch a daily feature that highlights a protest song every day. Today’s song:
Barry Ollman wrote this song and he recorded it with Garry Tallent, the forty-year bass player for Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band. He later made a video with his friend, Mike Keefe, winner of the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning. The song is called “Banker’s Holiday.”
Ollman began to put the song together in April 2010. He had been reading Woody Guthrie’s semi-autobiographical novel Bound for Glory and thought America’s new economic realities should be the subject of music today. He was also personally disgusted with “what the greed of a relatively small group of people” did to America, as they simultaneously made incredible profits.
“Walking the streets/Walking the streets/Why do all these people get to walk on these streets?” Ollman sings, referring to elite executives of financial institutions on Wall Street, who have not been prosecuted.
Later in the song, “They work their bankers’ hours/It’s a banking holiday/We bailed their assets out/They still get that bankers’ pay/It’s a different set of rules/By which they get to play.” In fact, top Justice Department officials will drop hints to lawyers that might represent white collar criminals so they can avoid indictments.
The combination of Ollman’s lyrics and Tallent’s bass line give it a quality similar to a Ry Cooder song. It makes it an excellent protest song and it is the first song emailed to The Dissenter to be featured.
Here’s the song:
The Dissenter will be putting one of these up every weekday morning. If you have suggestions for songs that should be featured or if you recorded a song you think should be featured, email firstname.lastname@example.org.