Protest songs from the Vietnam War and Civil Rights Movement Simple Song of Freedom Bobby Darin Come and sing a simple song of freedom Sing it like you’ve never sung before Let it fill the air Tell the people everywhere We, the people here, don’t want a war. Hey, there, mister black man, can you hear me? I don’t want your diamonds or your game I just want to be someone known to you as me And I will bet my life you want the same. Come and sing a simple song of freedom Sing it like you’ve never sung before Let it fill the air Tell the people everywhere We, the people here, don’t want a war.
Seven hundred million are ya list’nin’? Most of what you read is made of lies But, speakin’ one to one ain’t it everybody’s sun To wake to in the mornin’ when we rise? Come and sing a simple song of freedom Sing it like you’ve never sung before Let it fill the air Tell the people everywhere We, the people here, don’t want a war. Brother Solzhenitsyn, are you busy? If not, won’t you drop this friend a line Tell me if the man who is plowin’ up your land Has got the war machine upon his mind? Come and sing a simple song of freedom Sing it like you’ve never sung before Let it fill the air Tell the people everywhere
We, the people here, don’t want a war. Now, no doubt some folks enjoy doin’ battle Like presidents, prime ministers and kings So, let’s all build them shelves Where they can fight among themselves Leave the people be who love to sing. Come and sing a simple song of freedom Sing it like you’ve never sung before Let it fill the air Tell the people everywhere We, the people here, don’t want a war. I say … let it fill the air … Tellin’ people everywhere … We, the people here, don’t want a war. Bobby Darin Bobby Darin, otherwise known by his birth name of Walden Robert Cassotto, was born on May 14th in the year of 1936.
He lived until the age of 37 and died December 20th, 1973. Darin was of Italian descent and grew up in a poor, working class family. His childhood was during the Great Depression and lived most of his youth in a cardboard box on the streets. Due to the unhygienic conditions, he was a sickly infant and at the age of 8 he was diagnosed with a disease that left him with a fatally weakened heart. The doctors said that was would be lucky if he lived to the age of 16. Driven by poverty, illness and the news that his life would inevitably end much shorter than normal, Darin expressed his emotions through his musical talent.
Like many people in American at the time, he changed his name to something more American that didn’t reveal his original nationality. After some time without success, he was paired with a young woman named Connie Francis. Francis needed help to start her career, so Darin helped her write songs and fell in love with her. Unfortunately, her father disapproved of their romance and threatened Darin with a gun saying that he was never allowed to see his daughter again. His first major hit was ‘Spilsh Splash’, which was written after betting that he couldn’t begin a song with the words, ‘Splish Spash’.
Darin was also an actor. After living in isolation for 2 years, Bobby Darin wrote the protest song ‘Simple song of Freedom’ and began ‘Direction Records’, a recording studio that promoted folk and protest music. He created and appeared on his own TV show called The Bobby Darin Amusement Company, which ran until his death. On December 19th, after forgetting to take his medication before seeing a dentist- resulting in poisoning, 5 surgeons worked for over 6 hours on his weak valves. The operation was a success, but Darin died before regaining consciousness.
His protest song was directed to the General American Public and mentioned the roles and responsibility (or lack thereof) the people in charge of order, such as Presidents, Prime Ministers and kings. He addresses everyone, including African Americans, the religious about the war. The song was written in 1969, in the time of the Vietnam War. The Vietnam War began on the 1st of November to the 30th of April, 1975. American President Richard Nixon began withdrawing troops from Vietnam after sensing defeat but only to attempt to take over the defenses in Southern Vietnam.
This was called the Vietnamization. Nixon tried to appeal to the Americans that were not taking part in the protest to support the war. This was the year that the Battle of Dong Ap Bia (aka Hamburger Hill) began. In August an attempt of secret negotiations failed, due the representative’s lack of agreement. On the 15th of October, hundreds took part in the anti war protest. Darin must’ve been inspired by the spirit and determination of these protestors, which led to the lyrics of his song. He believed that war was a prison, and that peace was freedom, hence the name ‘Simple song of Freedom’.
The message of the song was simply to end the war for the sake of the people. He takes it on himself to speak on behalf of the people of American when he sings, We, the people here, don’t want a war. After the absurd lie that war wasn’t really that bad and that fighting was the best option for his country, Darin spoke out to the people, informing them that it was indeed a lie and that war brought nothing but misery. Everything he sings about are pleas to end an unnecessary war so that no more people will die. He believes that the majority of the people agree with him. Seven hundred million are ya list’nin’?
Brother Solzhenitsyn, are you busy? Hey, there, mister black man, can you hear me? He believes that the ones that are in charge of everything, including war (eg. Presidents) should just keep the fighting to themselves and leave everyone else out of it. So, let’s all build them shelves Where they can fight among themselves Loyal soldiers may disagree with this song, also the patriotic members of the society. Their beliefs are that American needed war to advance in the world and that because the leaders are doing what is best for the people; the people need to go to war if the leader wishes them to.
Another group of antagonists would be the authority figures at the time. They would believe that the best option for the country is to stick together in this time of trouble, not divide between two opinions. Also, Darin seems to mock them a little, saying ‘leave them to do what they want and we’ll do our own thing’, because he is pointing out that their opinions and disagreements don’t have to affect the whole country. You can even say that he is mocking their leadership skills. For the soldiers, it’s all for one, and one for all. What the leader decides is what the country does.
For them, this song undermines the idea of a whole nation acting as one. The authority figures would be of the opinion that peace is not exactly seen as freedom, because there will always be another war. They know that war is something that is not to be taken lightly, and the idea that they enjoy bringing their country to war is one that they would obviously object. Only a Pawn in their game Bob Dylan A bullet from the back of a bush took Medgar Evers’ blood. A finger fired the trigger to his name. A handle hit out in the dark A hand set the spark Two eyes took the aim Behind a man’s brain
But he can’t be blamed He’s only a pawn in their game. A South politician preaches to the poor white man, ‘You got more than the blacks, don’t complain. You’re better than them, you been born with white skin,’ they explain. And the Negro’s name Is used it is plain For the politician’s gain As he rises to fame And the poor white remains On the caboose of the train But it ain’t him to blame He’s only a pawn in their game. The deputy sheriffs, the soldiers, the governors get paid, And the marshals and cops get the same, But the poor white man’s used in the hands of them all like a tool.
He’s taught in his school From the start by the rule That the laws are with him To protect his white skin To keep up his hate So he never thinks straight ‘Bout the shape that he’s in But it ain’t him to blame He’s only a pawn in their game. From the poverty shacks, he looks from the cracks to the tracks, And the hoof beats pound in his brain. And he’s taught how to walk in a pack Shoot in the back With his fist in a clinch To hang and to lynch To hide ‘neath the hood To kill with no pain Like a dog on a chain He ain’t got no name But it ain’t him to blame He’s only a pawn in their game.
Today, Medgar Evers was buried from the bullet he caught. They lowered him down as a king. But when the shadowy sun set on the one That fired the gun He’ll see by his grave On the stone that remains Carved next to his name His epitaph plain: Only a pawn in their game. Bob Dylan Bob Dylan, otherwise known as Robert Allen Zimmerman (birthname) or Shabtai Zisel ben Avraham (Hebrew name), was born on the 24th of May 1941, and still lives to this day. The American songwriter was famed for his works in the 1960’s, his anthems for civil rights and anti war protests changed the face of music.
His most famous protest songs are ‘Blowin’ in the Wind’ and ‘The Times They are a-Changing’, and his songs have powerful social, political, philosophical and literacy influences on the world. He has been touring the world since 1980, in a Never Ending Tour. His works have earned him a Grammy, a Golden Globe, Academy Awards and a place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Dylan was born in Duluth, Minnesota, where he lived in a small Jewish village until his father died. He wrote an autobiography called Chronicles.
In high school he formed many bands, such as Shadow Blasters and Golden Chords and changed his name from the poetic influences of Dylan Thomas. It was then that he realised that Rock and Roll music just didn’t have the emotion and meaning that folk music possessed. Later in his life he married Joan Baez and acted for BBC’s The Madhouse on Castle Street. His civil rights song Only a Pawn in their Game refers to the murder of civil rights worker Medgar Evers and black hotel barmaid Hattie Carroll, both who were killed by William Zantzinger, a white American Southerner.
His song relates back to the Civil Rights Movement and the discrimination that the corrupt government allowed to happen during that time. The unnecessary racism led to the deaths of those who stood up for the blacks, and the lynchings of the blacks themselves, done by the Ku Klux Klan. Dylan’s song was written in 1963, during the Civil Rights Movement (1955-1968), were African Americans were still fighting for equality against the racism of the South. The North, such as Chicago, accepted blacks, but the South still used segregation and treated them worse than dogs with the Ku Klux Klan lynching and burning them.
The Famous March on Washington had 6 main purposes, to gain meaningful civil rights laws, a massive federal works program, full and fair employment, decent housing, the right to vote and normal integrated education. It became clear to Dylan that many of the whites had been influenced by their parent’s hatred, school’s education and corrupt law that taught that blacks were nothing but trash. Dylan came to the conclusion that white children had never been given the choice to think freely about the blacks because of the intimidation that their surroundings brought upon them.
The message of Dylan’s song was that white children are corrupted at a young age and that can lead to devastating actions in the future, He’s only a pawn in their game. ‘Their game’ is actually the government’s game of corrupting and teaching discrimination. To kill with no pain… Like a dog on a chain They have been ‘trained’ to lynch and slaughter without second thought, trained meaning to be exposed to the discrimination and thinking that it’s okay to do those to blacks. The deputy sheriffs, the soldiers, the governors get paid… And the marshals and cops get the same… But the poor white man’s used in the hands of them all like a tool.
The government is being in charge because they honour racism and segregation. That the laws are with him… To protect his white skin… To keep up his hate… So he never thinks straight, The child never got the chance to think freely and openly about blacks in general. They are expected to ‘protect their white skin’, (their pride and honour) and to continue to hate something that they never really knew. The Government would definitely disagree with this song. There would be no way that they would actually admit that they are corrupted by hate and racism.
It would be wrong for a government official to look at a situation in a biased way. The other group that would disagree with this song would be the Ku Klux Klan and other racist Southerners. This would be because they would claim to never plan to ‘corrupt’ and ‘use’ the young children. Corruption is to influence one of a negative thought until their good judgement is overridden. Southern Government would claim that they were just allowing the civilians to express their thoughts without objection or prejudice.
They would, however, fail to mention that they added the fuel to the fire with their much biased laws and the fact that they paid no attention to the increasing number of missing African Americans. The jury was filled with white people, and so was the majority of the court. The Ku Klux Klan believes that they are portraying good and just values to future generations. They would not believe that it is their doing for the person’s corruption, but rather a ‘positive’ influence that the south once had on them.