People are gearing up to take to the streets. Some already have. It seems this country is dividing itself into two camps: those that are horrified by the crisis unfolding at the border and extending across our country, and those who are delighted by it. So naturally, this week’s Revolution Sounds is the protest song classic “Which Side Are You On.”
A New Classic
Emily Daina Šaras recently recorded this fantastic new version of this old protest song. Drawing on the protest song’s simple and powerful roots, she wrote a whole set of new lyrics to match our current-day battles. Her vibrant voice rings out on poignant lines like “we stand upon the shoulders of migrants across the ages” and “they’ll chop your family tree.”
My grandpa was an immigrant
Who fled in times of war,
A fair-skinned laborer, and they said,
“Come on as you are.”
Now, if your skin is brown
And you arrive as a refugee,
They’ll take away your human rights
And they’ll chop your family tree.
If you believe in justice
For every refugee,
Join hands with migrants ’round the world,
And sing along with me:
We stand upon the shoulders
Of migrants across the ages.
We stand up to our government:
No more migrants in cages.
Listen to the full song here:
(If this version choked you up like it did me, Emily asks that you make a donation to Together Rising or RAICES in lieu of a purchase or Patreon payment).
Or perhaps you prefer hip-hop?
Another favorite of mine is the modernized and remixed version of this song was done by Rebel Diaz and with an all-star collection of featuring artists including Dead Prez, Rakaa Iriscience, M-1, stic.man, and Rod Starz dropped in 2015. This version takes the old march song and layers it with rap and hip-hop rhythms and a foot-stomping back-beat to stunning effect.
I dare you to watch this one and try to sit still.
But always know your organizing history and your classics
And just in case you’ve never heard the original, here’s a version by the one of the granddaddies of protest songs Woody Guthrie who wandered the U.S. during the dustbowl and Great Depression singing folk and union-organizing songs. He inspired later artists such as Bob Dylan and Pete Seegar.
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