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.
On September 18, singer/songwriter Will Hoge released Modern American Protest Music. One of the songs off the album is called, “The Times They Are Not Changing,” which is a sharp condemnation of the Sixties generation or the Boom! generation.
It is a story of a man in his sixties or seventies right now, who back in the 1960s participated in the great social movements of the Sixties. Hoge sings: “Hey, old man remember 1964/With your hair long and curly, trying to end a damn war/With your peace signs and marches that shook you to the core/But here we are again and I don’t see you no more.”
The man moved on in the Seventies and Eighties. He took up a place of privilege—”bought a house in the suburbs on a half-acre lot.” He sent his children “off to private, all lily-white schools.” And he thought poor people, if given food stamps and welfare, would be able to get by and ignored how the rich were getting richer and increasingly setting the rules.
The chorus goes, “And the times they are not changing/They’re the same as it was once before/You got yourself a little/Turned your back on the middle/And now you just don’t care anymore.”
“If this song hurts your feelings,” Hoge declares, at the end of the song. “Well, it don’t mean it ain’t true/No, it just means we’re probably singing about you.”
It is a clear statement on the betrayal of the liberal class and how they sold out.
Hoge says of the song in a “Cut-by-Cut” promo he saw dirty white men yapping on the left and right. He took note of musicians, who had been part of this good fight. Yet, the country is still fighting many of the same battles it has always fought. People started to just take care of themselves and musicians and people, who were part of movements, grew out of their activism because they got a little bit.
He wants to believe in the sentiment of the song which he is riffing on, the legendary protest song, “The Times They Are A-Changin.” He hopes that America can get better and the same mistakes are not repeated. However, not being aware of mistakes ensures they’re repeated, he adds, and the song is a call to younger generations to look at where older generations erred.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
And all previous Protest Song of the Day selections can be found here.