How relevant are "protest songs" from the folk revival? What is the effect that it really has? Last night I got into a discussion about it with a guy who played "Masters of War," and he and I both used the same descriptive words: "mood killer." Not only that, but we said it with a smile on our faces.
A couple months ago, I blogged about protesting through music. There was a period in there where I played protest songs at the Hopvine every week: "Where Have All The Flowers Gone," "With God On Our Side," "The Times, They Are A'Changin'," "My Uncle," and some others. People liked it, I think. A few came up to me and said things like "that has to be sung, I'm glad to hear it." And "Masters of War" last night was great- more Eddie Vedder than Bob Dylan, and it sure got the crowd riled up. I think I have this fear that an audience sees a singer/songwriter covering Bob Dylan and automatically shrugs them off as a wannabe. I'm back to playing a variety of songs now, because I've been writing too much to not perform any of it. The guy last night said that he does a mash-up of "The Ballad Of Hollis Brown" and "Minarets" – now there's an imposing selection to try an live up to.
Is it possible to escape the shadow? And also, why bother referencing the 60's when you could be referencing the early 20th century, which is after all, what was being "revived." I've been working on some Woody songs, but he's a really hard one to reproduce. Has anyone heard any really great contemporary music that fits this category? I guess I've heard some, but nothing that's really stuck. It takes pop music to do that, so the closest think we have is Kanye West's outburst, I think.