The Complicator Vol. 15 – The Baby Boomers Have Forgotten what Protest Music Feels Like


The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. . . As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves. – Abraham Lincoln, Dec. 1, 1862

Hey gang,

I happened to catch a bit of the Live Earth concert a few weeks ago, and it got me thinking.

I know that there are people who think that no one makes potent cultural music anymore, and that we lost music as a cultural weapon when the 60s ended. I usually hear this notion expressed when one of the old great lions produces a new album, and it usually says something about the supposed absence of political or social voices from any generation after the late 60s.

I thought it would be cool to officially “disenthrall” ourselves / debunk this notion by mentioning the bands, living or dead, that have made socially crucial and politically relevant records since the protest era. Were I to curate my ultimate concert to save the world, these bands would be on the bill for sure.

I’ll start with my top 36 (in no particular order). Please help me make the full list…

Minor Threat


Silver Jews

Black Sabbath

Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings

Elliott Smith

Casey Dienel


Caetano Veloso


Nellie McKay

Public Enemy

Joanna Newsom

Brian Eno


Lee Scratch Perry

Fiery Furnaces

Soft Boys

Robyn Hitchcock

Townes Van Zandt

Bad Brains

Gang Starr

Os Mutantes

Gillian Welch

The National

John Fahey


Diane Cluck

Talking Heads





Mark Hollis

Nina Nastasia

Gang of Four

Billy Bragg

The Clash

that’s a start, anyway.

onward and upward,

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