Various Artists

Generations of Folk, Vol. 2: Protest & Politics

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Many singer/songwriters like John Prine write subtle songs like "Hello in There" that serve as commentary about those on the edge of society. Protest singers like Phil Ochs probably appreciated Prine's song but had little use for his subtlety, especially with subjects like civil rights and the Vietnam War to sing about. Indeed, the protest song's content is often direct to the point of bluntness. Generation of Folk, Vol. 2 documents many of these protest songs from Vanguard artists active in the '50s, '60s, and '70s. The "godfather of folk activism," Pete Seeger, performs solo on the anthem "We Shall Not Be Moved" and with the Weavers on the apartheid protest "Marching to Pretoria." Joan Baez sings perhaps the definitive version of "We Shall Overcome," performed during the 1963 March on Washington. Mimi(Baez's sister) and Richard Fariña contribute "House Un-American Blues Activity Dream," a song that manages to be catchy, funny, and non-preachy at the same time. Perhaps the funniest piece on this album is Tom Paxton's "Anita O.J.," an attack on Anita Bryant's homophobia with the refrain, "You squeeze mine Anita/I'll Squeeze yours Anita." Roy Trakin Sr.'s liner notes give a good overview of the material and the events that inspired such responses. Perhaps the more cynical critic would argue that a protest song never changed history, but at least one famous folk singer felt differently. The transcription on Woody Guthrie's guitar read, "This Machine Kills Fascists." Generation of Folk, Vol. 2 provides a good introduction for those unfamiliar with the protest tradition, and is a good collection for peaceniks looking to relive old memories.

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