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May 25, 2023
Song has often been a way for people to emote, tell stories, praise, etc. In the 1960s we see more and more songs being written, popularized, and played on the radio that deal with the social protests of the era. Do a little internet research and choose a protest song from any era that you enjoy. Your post should include the title, songwriter, recording artist, and year it was written and/or popular. Then include a few key phrases, lines from the song that exemplify social protest –and analyze what they mean to you.
I wanted to showcase Nina Simone’s Backlash Blues (1967).
Backlash Blues
This song was originally written by Langston Hughes as a poem and Simone, who was friends with Hughes, turned into a civil rights song. Simone sings:
“Mr. Backlash, Mr. Backlash
Just who do think I am
You raise my taxes, freeze my wages
And send my son to Vietnam”
These lyrics are dealing with the fallout of WWII and current conflicts abroad of the Cold War. Many minorities were the first to feel the effects of the draft during the Vietnam War–if they could not enroll in school full time or have a means of escaping the draft as many of them did not–then they had to go to war. Simone continues:
“You give me second class houses
And second class schools
Do you think that all the colored folks
Are just second class fools
Mr. Backlash, I’m gonna leave you
With the backlash blues”
This speaks directly to what we saw highlighted by the 1950s with housing and school segregation. Simone is calling out Mr. Backlash, who I believe to be the government, society, etc. by stating states that we are not fools and there will be repercussions for these injustices–the backlash blues. I find these lines powerful. Not only corroborating what we know to be true in America’s fight for civil rights, but also very reminiscent of the time period–the idea that we are no longer going to take it!
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