To recognize the power of protest music, acknowledge its role in keeping dissent alive and how musicians translate social issues and systemic problems into song, The Dissenter has launched a daily feature that highlights a protest song every weekday.
The band’s name, Desaparecidos, is Spanish and translates into “disappeared ones.” It refers to leftists arrested by South American military governments in the years, particularly in between 1976 and 1983 when countries like Argentina were disappearing tens of thousands of people. The group is made up of vocalist/guitarist Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes, Casey Scott on bass guitar, Matt Baum on drums, Denver Dalley on guitar and Ian McElroy on keyboards.
At the 2012 FYF Fest in Los Angeles State Historic Park on September 2, 2012, the group debuted a song called, “Anonymous.” Oberst introduced the song saying, “This goes out to an American hero. His name is Bradley Manning. He is currently sitting twenty-three hours a day in solitary confinement for telling us what our government is actually doing.” He added, “It’s a true shame. It’s a true disgrace to our country. And I say if you say we believe in—and this goes for you, Mr. Obama—you should not only let that American hero out of prison. You should throw him a big fucking parade.” Now, Manning is no longer being held in solitary confinement, but the sentiment is worthy still worthy of cheers.
The song opens with a guitar coming in solo. Cymbals then crash along with drums, as the song settles into the kind of post-hardcore sound typical of the band’s music.
Oberst laments the decline of America. He sings, “If there’s anything great left in this sorry state, it was built on the backs of the poor.” He says, “Freedom’s not free/Neither is apathy.” And then the song launches into controlled chaos as Oberst bellers, “You can’t stop us/We are Anonymous,” multiple times.
“A half dozen cops came to steal a laptop/From a sleeping fifteen year-old kid,” Oberst sings. “They broke down his door.” This kid was arrested, it seems. And because of how law enforcement did him, Oberst delivers the motto of Anonymous, “We do not forgive/And we do not forget/We are legion/Expect us, you’ll see.”
The music pauses—”Freedom’s not free and now neither is secrecy.” And the band launches into the raucous chorus once more.
It is a kind of hardcore garage punk song for those who believe information wants to be free and fight each day to force transparency.
Here’s the song:
The Dissenter will be putting one of these up every weekday morning. If you have requests for songs that should be featured or if you have a protest song you recorded, which you would like to see featured, email dissenter@fir[email protected]
And all previous Protest Song of the Day selections can be found here.