Fighting Chords

When you’re weary, feeling small, a playlist to get you fired up to keep fighting for our country, every day…

“You may say I’m a dreamer; but I’m not the only one…”

–John Lennon

We were deflated and despairing, then we were inflamed and excited, even daring to joke that Donald Trump really was going to bring the country together, just not the way he thought.. Now more and more of us, numbed by the endless political cold front and howling tweetstorms, are just keeping that old time American faith, so often rewarded, that if we all just keep our heads down, focus on what’s in front of us, one day, one hour, one minute, one second at a time, there will come a moment when we look up, our ears playfully boxed by the sounds of silence, and find ourselves on top of yet another mountain we never knew we were climbing.

No. Not this time. And we’ll give our fearless leader credit for that.

Because we were a different kind of dazed before, comfortably numb, as the world slowly shifted tectonically beneath us, an inch or two at a time, a little more inequality, a little more debt, a little more CO2, a little more antibiotic and pesticide resistance, a little less water, a little more coarseness and corruption, the epitome of Hemingway’s description of bankruptcy: first gradually, then all at once. The fight we should have been fighting anyway, for our country and planet, is what’s in front of us, no matter where we look, the cracks in the foundation illuminated by flashes of comb-over, spray tan, pounded wider by waves of blunt vulgarity.

But when you’re reeling from your fourteenth brain attack of the day from Washington, and starting to wish they were strokes, when you’ve hunched all the way down into a fetal position in front of your phone or computer, you’re going to need a little pick-me-up, administered aurally, and that’s where we–and you–come in. We’re talking the Creative Politics Fire Up playlist, music that inspires you, enrages you, restores you, whatever it takes to get you to your game face and back up on that field; we’ve begun this great chain of be-in below, and we’re hoping you’ll add to it.

As you’ll see, the songs don’t have to be political–at all. Blowin’ In The Wind is a great protest song, after all, but can you see yourself marching into media after hearing its plaintive tones? On the other hand, You’re So Vain has nothing to do with politics, even if it’s indirectly about Bulworth, but can’t you hear yourself singing it in righteous anger at your favorite politician to hate?

It has to be acknowledged that some great tunes have been played bas la terre, and they aren’t coming back up. They deserve our respect, though, so let’s give them a wing and a prayer in the Hall of Fame. Gonna Fly Now, Eye Of The Tiger, Star Wars (Main Theme), John Brown’s Body, The Impossible Dream, Chariots Of Fire, they’re all in. Anything that’s been trivialized and twisted in commercials or football (there’s a difference?)–like Ride of the Valkyries, Carmina Burana, Fanfare For The Common Man, Thus Spake Zarathustra, the William Tell Overture, the 1812 Overture, Je Ne Regrette Rien, Sweet Home Alabama, We Are The Champions, We Will Rock You, Stop Children, What’s That Sound, and Another One Bites The Dust–gets a skybox view of the men and women in the arena this time around. And if it’s playing in the local supermarket–we’re talking about you, Get Up, Stand Up and The Wall–it’s time to take a load off that axe. Some of the songs below may be eligible for AARSCAP benefits and discounts too–tell us what you think, and of course, we recognize that what fires one or more of us up (grammar, for example) may be idiosyncratic…


Your Flag Decal Won’t Get You Into Heaven Anymore (John Prine)
What better way to kick off the list than a timeless, countrified shot across the bow of the fabriots? And when are we not involved in a “dirty little war” of one kind or another? –Somnium


Fortunate Son (Creedence Clearwater Revival)
You’d think this one would have its own wing in the hall by now, but every year inequality increases just enough to add a little fresh urgency and sting. –Baker


Imagine (John Lennon)
This one will probably never be retired, because of six little words in the chorus that anyone stepping out of their life to change the world always needs to hear. –Somnium

talking bout revolution

Talking ‘Bout A Revolution (Tracy Chapman)
I’d revel in how fresh it sounds, but that’s a little depressing when you think about it. Take faith in Jefferson’s generational dictum–what goes around comes around, according to TJ and TC alike.


Ohio (Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young)
After all these years, your gorge still rises with theirs, and the incident it’s based on is starting to get real again, real fast. “How could you run, when you know?” indeed. –Somnium

you haven't done nothin

You Haven’t Done Nothing (Stevie Wonder)
In the early angry (pre-get even) days, I drove through red country, windows down, playing this at full blast with a sign on the door that said “dedicated to Donald Trump.” Originally written to blast Dick Nixon–what could be more apropos? –Somnium


War (Edwin Starr)
“it ain’t nothing but a heart-breaker; Friend only to the undertaker; Oh, war it’s an enemy to all mankind; The point of war blows my mind” This funky classic’s message is self explanatory. Love! Don’t hate! A message that everyone can get excited about. –Baker


Peace Like A River/The Cool, Cool River (Paul Simon)
This one’s for a little solidarity and empathy when you need it; no songs I’ve ever heard better capture what it’s like to be on the bleeding edge of revolutionary change, especially in the small towns and hamlets where it’s often least welcome. –Somnium


The Times They Are A Changin’ (Simon & Garfunkel version)
The original Bob Dylan is definitely HoF material, but S&G’s cover still rings with the fierce urgency of now, and as you’ll hear, if you haven’t already, requires at least two or more to be gathered to sing. –Somnium


Love Train (The O’Jays)
When you need to be reminded that you’re on the right side of history. –Somnium

let it snow

Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!
If we’re “snowflakes” (o, the irony), shouldn’t this be our anthem? What was it that Khrushchev so presciently said? Oh yeah: We will bury you. –Somnium


Black & Tans (Shamrog)
“Come out ye Black and Tans, come out and fight me like a man; Show your wife how you won medals down in Flanders; Tell them how the IRA made you run like hell away; From the green and lovely lanes of Killashandra.” With a rich and beloved folk-history like that of the Irish, sometimes it’s easy to feel the plight of an oppressed people different from yourself. Black and Tans is an Irish classic which condemns colonialism and tyranny at home and abroad. –Baker


Many Rivers To Cross/Sitting Here In Limbo/The Harder They Come (Jimmy Cliff)
Baker votes for the harder, I for limbo, and God, many rivers is beautiful, but you can’t include it without at least one of the other two. Fact is, they belong together, just as they are on the live version that’s the best way to listen… –Somnium, Baker


The Great Curve (Talking Heads)
Play it at full volume, learn to sing the lyrics, and you’ll see. You might even see an endless horde of dancers in perfect synchrony overwhelm everything in their path with fierce love in your mind. In this election year, what could be more perfect than a tune that came out of this scrap of African creation mythology: “The world moves on a woman’s hips…” Then keep the volume pumped for the army from the east.Somnium


American Anthem (Norah Jones)
But only after watching at least one episode of The War, and listening to it over the credits. Some have called it ‘sappy,’ but if you do this, that’s not the word you’ll use. –Somnium


Fight The Power (Public Enemy)
“Elvis was a hero to most; But he never meant sh*t to me you see…I’m ready and hyped plus I’m amped; Most of my heroes don’t appear on no stamps…” Released for Spike Lee’s groundbreaking masterpiece, Do the Right Thing, The rebellious and righteous sound off of Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power” drove the track up to number one on Billboard’s “Hot Rap Singles” –Baker


Tubthumping (Chumbawamba)
Remember: Our national anthem was once a drinking song too. –Baker

come and get it

Come And Get It (Badfinger)
Takes you right back to when America really was great–the 60’s revolutions–MAGA for real, baby. –Somnium


Mrs Robinson (Simon & Garfunkel)
“Laugh about it, shout about it, when you’ve got to choose. Any way you look at it you lose.” Joe, your table awaits. –Baker & Somnium


One Tin Soldier (The Original Caste)
Yes it’s cheesy, and it seemed laughably over the top, but we live in cheesy, cheesy times, and who’s laughing now? –Somnium

sound of da police

Sound Of Da Police (KRS-1)
“Ya hotshot, want to get props and be a savior; First show a little respect, change your behavior; Change your attitude, change your plan; There could never really be justice on stolen land” Whoop! Whoop! This 90s classic expresses a sentiment that all Americans should get behind. Respect between the authority and those without it must go both ways. A cop without respect is a small town tyrant. –Baker

hard times england

Hard Times Of Old England (Steeleye Span)
A song to evoke and raise the spirits of all who built their share of the arc of justice before you, and get them behind you now. –Somnium

wont back down

I Won’t Back Down (Tom Petty)
“Well I know what’s right. I got just one life, in a world that keeps on pushin’ me around, but I stand my ground, and I won’t back down.” And no one will forget when he sang it at the 9/11 Concert For New York after that awful day, either. –Baker


Hurricane (Bob Dylan)
The diagnostic test for all SJWs; if this song doesn’t fill you with righteous rage and outrage all over again, it’s time to hie yourself to the nearest ER for some high-octane chest paddling. –Baker


Like A Prayer (Madonna), Born This Way (Lady Gaga), Not Ready To Make Nice (Dixie Chicks)
It’s so predictable; every time a strong woman comes strong to the mike, there’s a chorus ready to call her self-indulgent, self-important, an egotistical diva, ignorant, and worse. Before there was shut up and dribble, there was shut up and sing. Well, there’s got to be a place on this playlist to tell the barkaloungers to muzzle themselves, before La Lauper stops by to put them to sleep, time after time. –Vesta & Somnium

war ready

War Ready (Vince Staples)
“Edgar Allen Poe; Tried to warn ’em of demise and all he seen was crows; Feel for ’em, words, we kill for ’em; Leave the bitchin’ to the birds, we still war’n; Born ready, you boys lost already; All in ’til the lord get me–Baker


What’s Going On?/Piece Of Clay (Marvin Gaye)
You can’t help but think of the way he died when you listen to Piece Of Clay, but it’s even more poignant when you transcend the personal to the universal, because for Gaye the universe is so simple, so obvious you can’t understand or explain why it isn’t so; why can’t we just let people be themselves instead of trying to control them? –Baker & Somnium


All You Need Is Love (The Beatles)
“There’s nothing you can know that isn’t known; Nothing you can see that isn’t shown; There’s nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be; It’s easy” –Baker


I Can See For Miles And Miles (The Who)
There are so many Who songs that could be here–Who Are You? Won’t Get Fooled Again, Behind Blue Eyes, Substitute, My Generation, but this is the one for right now, when you can’t believe the bulls*** people are trying to get away with, and you want them to know you’re calling them on it. –Somnium


Taxman (The Beatles)
Whenever this song comes up anywhere, someone will at least hum along; its origin may be British, but it’s quintessentially average American; we were born out of taxes, and even more corrupt taxation without representation could be what unites us for American revolution, part II –Somnium


Gimme Shelter (The Rolling Stones)
20 Feet From Stardom keeps this one on the active roster, no matter how much Scorsese tries to retire it into the Hall. You can’t help but see Merry Clayton every time you hear it now. –Baker & Somnium


Pressure Drop (Toots & The Maytals)
It’s supposedly about hurricanes, and it is, or it could be whirlwinds of the Biblical variety, 45, proclaimed with a smile. –Baker & Somnium


The Israelites (Desmond Dekker & The Aces)
The struggle, always the struggle. –Baker & Somnium


Immigrants (Lin Manuel Miranda)
We have to take our shot, and be pushed to do so; anything that evokes Hamilton also reminds us of all we’ve lost in two short years and must get back. But the frontlines of war for America’s soul today is immigration, and the Immigrants video, with subtitles, is a no apologies, take-no-prisoners rebuke to the “nativists.” Yeah, there are people willing to give everything for the privilege of living in this country; what’s your problem–and why aren’t you? –Somnium

fed up wit

Fed Up Wit The Bullshit (Big L)
“I’m not only fed up with the cops; I’m also fed up with them punk-ass cab drivers who don’t stop; They don’t care if it’s snowin;’ First they slow down, then they see your skin is brown, then they keep goin’” In classic Big L style the aggression of this track is unbridled. Big L will take no more abuse, not even the smallest slight. Although violent and often deliberately gratuitous, Big L shows us the “will not be stepped on” revolutionary that lies at the heart of every American. –Baker


Way Down In The Hole (The Blind Boys Of Alabama)
Because it begins and ends the greatest show in the history of television (even the president says so, as of 2019), not to mention one of the great works of art of the last century, bristling with the fierce pessimism and dark humor of the truly idealistic in America, driven far more by the nearness of greatness (which can be–and mean–much worse) than its distance. –Baker & Somnium


Amazing Grace (Barack Obama)
By all rights, this one should have been in the Hall’s Inaugural class long before any of us were born, but it’s so personal that everyone makes it their own. –Baker


bruised orange

Bruised Orange (John Prine)
The perfect song for that inevitable moment when you start feeling sorry for yourself, when, as Buddha says, “you stop seeking truth, and start seeking only for yourself.” –Somnium


Fool’s Life (Dr Dog)
Because you don’t want to be singing this song or any reasonable fascimile down this old road–Somnium

me and you

Me And You (Jake Bugg)
They will try to divide and conquer, and sometimes it will seem down to you and someone you love against the world. For then. –Somnium


Big Time/Shock The Monkey/Solsbury Hill (Peter Gabriel)
The first is the epitome of Wall Street double-edgedness–an attack on greed you can sing with all the self-actualization of an Occupy demonstrator; the second, an enervating take on all the relentless manipulations in the laboratory of Western life; the third, an uplifting reminder that we’re all invited to join the First Revolution. –Somnium


Feel Good Inc (Gorillaz)
I’ll admit to having a soft spot for this aughts hit because it was Baker’s first favorite, and because the group formed and recorded over the Net without ever meeting, which I find inspiring in the wide-open spaces of many kinds that separate us. But it’s also a lovely evocation of idyllic dreams, in our land of them, rising out of the ominous chaos of modern life, especially if you have the video playing in your head. –Somnium


California Uber Alles (Dead Kennedys)
“Zen fascists will control you; 100% natural; You will jog for the master race; And always wear the happy face; Close your eyes, can’t happen here; Big Bro’ on white horse is near; The hippies won’t come back you say; Mellow out or you will pay; Mellow out or you will pay!’’ Who says anger can’t be funny? The sing songy vocals on this punk counterculture track are as entertaining as they are biting, turning the typically leftist punk crowd against the conformist liberal culture that often finds its way into politics. –Baker


Jackson (Johnny & June Carter Cash)
The Man in Black has to tune up somewhere, and this may be the most quintessentially and affectionately American piece he and June ever recorded. –Vesta


Ventura Highway (America)
When you need to stabilize before you can mend and push forward, summery songs with a strong, transporting sense of place can be the best medicine. Doesn’t have to be this one; could be Summer Breeze, Downtown, When They Fight, They Fight, Saturday In The Park, Reminiscing, Dancing In The Moonlight, Peaceful Easy Feeling, even Loving You–you get the pictures–or all of the above. –Vesta & Somnium


The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face (Roberta Flack), Shanti Mantra (Ravi Shankar)
And sometimes you need some real peace and tranquility to really recharge. Breathe…and maybe put on some kora tunes, too. –Vesta

sax wolf duet

Wolf Eyes (Paul Winter)
Sometimes it feels like our worldwide challenges are so overwhelming we’re going to need every plant and animal in the village on our side, too, and that’s when an amazing piece like this one (that literally ends with a wolf and a saxophone calling to each other in the night) can lift us up. We should have more like it on this list. –Somnium


Hawai’i ’78 (Israel Kamakawiwo’ole)
And more of the voice of the first Americans, who lived in so much greater harmony than we ever have with what we call our country, and who represent the great injustices so often forgotten (except by the greatest and the bravest) that need to be put right. Nobody tells it more hauntingly than Brother Iz… –Somnium


Mehcinut (Jeremy Dutcher)
…Or more beautifully than Jeremy Dutcher, one of the last 100 people on earth who still speaks the language of his tribe, who’s been using his powerful tenor and music degree to revive songs that haven’t been heard in more than a century, in his native tongue, with no English translation. And did I mention that he’s “two-spirit?” –Somnium


More Than This (Roxy Music)
Everyone has their own spin on what this song really means (how much more political can you get than that?); all I know is whenever I hear it, I’m taken back to late night bars and restaurants in DC in the late 80s, when everything seemed possible again, and it was playing everywhere. To me it’s pure beautiful melancholy, the Zen state of many an activist, and both Ferry and Roxy get bonus love for their myriad contributions to the exceptional and timely Babylon Berlin, especially if they provided as much as an ounce of inspiration for this. –Somnium

when levee

When The Levee Breaks (Led Zeppelin)
“If it keeps on rainin’ levee’s goin’ to break; When the levee breaks I’ll have no place to stay.; Mean old levee taught me to weep and moan; Lord mean old levee taught me to weep and moan; Got what it takes to make a mountain man leave his home” The blaring harmonica and the monotonous whaling guitars, almost rainlike, embody the feeling of being alone against a swarm. Not a swarm of individual people or events, but more like a droning swarm: a million straws on a camel’s back. The message: brace yourself! –Baker


The Last Midnight (Billy Porter)
When you’re fed up with the “good German” timidity of your fellow citizens in the face of existential threats, The Witch’s exit number from Stephen Sondheim’s Into The Woods can really hit the spot. No one on Broadway or film has sung this number as well it was performed by Bainbridge (WA) Performing Arts, but Billy Porter’s version is close, perhaps because, like you, he hasn’t led a diva’s pampered life… –Somnium


Tear It Down (Spoon)
A little creative destruction is always in order, right capitalists? Oh, that’s not what you meant? Spoon’s first political song, they were worried it would be dated after the 2016 election [insert bitter laugh emoji] –Somnium

fighting chords books_450x284

Gettysburg (Main Theme)
It helps if you’ve seen the movie, ideally more than once, and succeeded in editing Jeff Daniels’ preachy soliloquy (foreshadowing anyone?) out of your mind, and if you have, you know really you could just listen to the whole soundtrack, especially ‘side 1,’ to get you going.


First Symphony, Fourth Movement–Pui Allegro (Johannes Brahms)
There’s a moment–you’ll know it, if you don’t already–when you’ll feel like you and everyone like-minded has come over the mountain top; may we all feel that soon. And talk about arcs–it took Brahms fourteen years to write this piece as he struggled to create something that could stand next to Beethoven. I say he succeeded, but then I like The Who better than the Stones and Beatles, too. –Somnium


Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op. 43 (Sergei Rachmaninoff)
Climb the entire mountain with the Russian master himself to make the view from the top ever more sweet. –Vesta


Lascia ch’io pianga (George Frederick Handel)
Stunningly contemporary, this timeless 300+ year classic says, as only music can, that some things will never die. –Vesta


The Last Words Of David (Randall Thompson)
But only if you can get a recording of a small group singing it, ideally with countertenors involved–most recordings of it with big groups are far too muddy. The US Army version is an exception, and it does a soul good to hear our men in uniform expressing its sentiments. –Somnium

queen of the night

The Magic Flute, Der Holle Rache (WA Mozart)
How can we have a list like this without the classical channeling of extreme emotion that is opera, the progenitor of punk? Pick your antivenin (this version is actually a little better, though not as simpatico), and if you’re really po’ed (English translation: Hell’s Vengeance), try using it as a ringtone to really let your freak flag fly. –Somnium


The Magic Flute, In Diesen Heil’gen Hallen (WA Mozart)
At the opposite extreme, so to speak, is this literally profound and profoundly beautiful bass meditation on tolerance, sung by a character who represents the power of good personified, which ends by proclaiming “a man who cannot forgive is not a man.” You might find yourself inspired to crack open a hymnal, where you can find a lot more food for lonely thought. –Somnium

caruso core ngrato

Core ‘Ngrato (Enrico Caruso version)
The digitally remastered version is an inspired and inspiring fusion of the timeless and the new that is, itself, a message. Forget the lyrics, it sounds like a man pouring out his love for his country, which isn’t surprising since it was written by an Italian-American immigrant. Put it on in your car, turn up the volume (again) and see if that Voice doesn’t take your breath away, even bring a tear to the corner of your eye. Not recommended while actually driving. You could also just spend hours in a candlelit bath listening to Mirella Freni –Somnium


Guerrilla Radio (Rage Against The Machine)
Who stuff the banks, who staff the party ranks; More for Gore or the son of a drug lord; None of the above.; Fuck it, cut the cord!” This one’s a bit on the nose, but there’s nothing wrong with that. Although overtly political in its content, there’s something more broad about a good Rage Against the Machine Song. You can hear Zack De La Rocha’s outrage through every syllable, and it’s infectious. –Baker

chan chan

Chan Chan (Buena Vista Social Club)
It doesn’t have anything to do with politics, but it sure sounds like it, and maybe that’s inevitable, given its origin–Cuba, the political Rorschach test. –Somnium


Patria (Ruben Blades)
That he’s singing about his homeland is all the Spanish you need to know for your heart to swell; consider a patriotic slow dance with someone you love while you listen. –Somnium

pata pata

Pata Pata (Miriam Makeba)
The continental anthem of Africa that epitomizes the enduring wisdom of the motherland: vanquish oppression with joy. –Vesta

helter skelter

Helter Skelter (The Beatles)
The lyrics don’t do this thrashing roller coaster of a record justice. Helter Skelter: Bedlam, Commotion, and Mayhem. –Baker

blacker berry

The Blacker the Berry/King Kunta (Kendrick Lamar)
“Curse me till I’m dead; Church me with your fake prophesizing that I’mma be another slave in my head; Institutionalize manipulation and lies; Reciprocation of freedom only live in your eyes” Kendrick Lamar calls out the country for an injustice, hundreds of years in the making, against an entire race of people. It’s raw, emotional, and, most importantly, personal, which is typical of Lamar’s music. –Baker


Rock The Casbah (The Clash)
All casbahs should get occasionally rocked. Although preferably not by bombs… Sometimes revolutionary means not taking yourself–or anything else–so seriously. –Baker & Somnium


State Anthem of the Russian Federation
It seems unfair to include songs that were deliberately written to manipulate patriotic pride, the Facebooks of their day, and more than ironic that I’d name this one, but it works, it always works. Besides, I can’t understand the lyrics, and the second best is probably (gulp) Deutschland Uber Alles. La Marseillaise? Well, we’ll always have Casablanca. –Somnium

PS Then there’s this, for those of us who binge for living…

nothing from nothing

Nothing From Nothing (Billy Preston)
“I’m not tryna be your hero; Cause that zero is too cold for me, brrr; I’m not tryin’ to be your highness; Cause that minus is too low to see, yeah” A true American, because he helped make so many others great, Preston tells us he’s demanding something substantial out of his relationships and from the world, and he’s gonna get it. –Baker


Howling At Nothing/SOB (Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats), Follow The Money (The Proclaimers), Home (Marc Broussard), Atlantic City (Bruce Springsteen)
Great reminders of why we need to keep fighting for our brothers and sisters in the working class, and in the Solid South, no matter how many voted for Donald Trump, no matter what we’re all dealing with as a result. We can’t keep America great without “them,” nor they without “us,” and nobody’s the wind beneath anyone else’s f’ing wings. –Somnium


Magic (Bruce Springsteen)
We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality, we’ll act again, creating other new realities. We’re history’s actors, and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.” Nope, not Donald Trump or Stephen Miller; Karl Rove in 2003. Magic was/is the Boss’ response, an iconic study in quiet, coiled, seething rage, served cold. It’s also the only Bruce song young Baker likes (so far). –Somnium


Minimum Wage (The Bus Boys)
Hard work and no pay: a nightmare blues that fuels the country in more ways than one, and it should be upsetting to anyone who hears it, powered by the deep optimism of rage. –Baker & Somnium


Nervous Breakdown (Black Flag)
“I hear the same old talk, talk, talk; The same old lines; Don’t do me that today; Yeah if you know what’s good for you; You’ll get out of my way” Henry Rollins is the uncle of outrage. He’s about to have a nervous breakdown; he’s going berzeeeeeeeerrrrrrk! –Baker


O Danny Boy (Renee Fleming)
Because every time you hear it now, if you watched and listened that Saturday morning, you’ll think of how an all-too-human old soldier rallied the resistance from beyond the grave. –Somnium


Don’t Dream It’s Over (Crowded House)
Imagine singing the chorus to our Trump-supporting middle and working class friends–fits like a velvet glove, right? –Somnium


Respect (Aretha Franklin)
“I’m about to give you all of my money; And all I’m askin’ in return, honey; Is to give me my propers; When you get home.” For the next time a politician hits you up for a donation. –Baker

what you ought to do

Sing About It (Wood Brothers)
Yup, in case you need a reminder, there’s nothing better; in the shower, with headphones, if necessary…if you watch the video of this one, let’s pretend the audience is stunned. –Somnium

one hundred days

100 Days, 100 Nights (Sharon Jones & The Daptones)
This one really has nothing to do with politics–that would have been their This Land Is My Land–but every time I hear it with Miss Sharon’s keening voice, for some reason I picture Maidan, and the First Hundred Days, of course. –Somnium

fighting chords movie_450x284
how come

How Come (Ray LaMontagne)
Good question, Ray, still unanswered, until we unask it the right way. I wanted to include Allen Toussaint’s Yes We Can Can, too, but every time I think of it these days, with all the ugliness jumping out from underneath every rock, all I can see is the Light Brigade, Custer, and George Pickett. –Somnium


Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For (U2)
Yes, I know, but it never gets old for me, because I still haven’t found it, and every time I hear it I’m pushed to keep trying. Plus, if you’ve ever been to Joshua Tree National Park. –Somnium


Closer To Fine (Indigo Girls)
Another great quest song, a little more humble, a lot more real. –Somnium

sign o the times

Sign O The Times/The Truth (Prince)
What if a little god came down to earth, told it like it is, challenged us with questions, shook his head, and disappeared again in a puff of surreal…? –Somnium


Is It Me/Sanctify/I’m Torn Up/Don’t Mean A Thing (St Paul & The Broken Bones)
While “Is It Me” is a rare moment of quiet midnight introspection, when you just need to howl inchoately at it all, or have someone do it by proxy, nobody packs a rib-cracking punch quite like the boys from Birmingham. –Somnium


Jesus Christ Superstar (Original London Cast Recording)
Start anywhere, end anywhere, you’ll be good (the cut I’ve chosen ends with Jesus telling the people they are the change they’ve been waiting for). Sorry kids, but the remake isn’t always better, but it could have been, if Brandon Victor Dixon and John Legend had switched parts. Think about it. –Somnium

i against i

I Against I (Bad Brains)
“So tell me why, did you have to lie; And try to make me all confused about the U.S.A; When the fact of the matter is you just don’t hear; To comprehend or understand a single word I say” The seminal ’80’s African-American punk band (an inspiration in itself), feeling like they’re talking to themselves, in a combat without an adversary. Don’t you hate it when you throw your energy into your thoughts, and no one hears them? –Baker

worst comes to worst

Worst Comes To Worst (Dilated Peoples)
“I got worldwide family all over the Earth; And I worry bout em all for whatever it’s worth; From the birth to the hearse, the streets, the guns burst; Words I disperse are here to free minds; And if mine are needy I need to feed mine; When worst come to worst (my peoples come first)” This song helps me remember that even if things get real bad, everyone has people that they have to take care of and people that have to take care of them, and thats the ultimate incentive to get off the couch. –Baker

we are

We Are (Jon Baptiste)
As with everything else on the site, this playlist will continue to grow and evolve.  How do we fight and fight back when we’re all locked away from each other in isolation, as we’ve been for a year and counting, and may be again?  Stephen Colbert has helped many of us get through the last four years, and his bandleader, Nawlins’ Jon Baptiste, has the answer for those long lonely nights to come… –Somnium

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It’s A Good Day (Shungudzo)
Leave it to an artist of African descent (Zimbabwe specifically) to create arguably the most cheerful song about revolution ever written; even the cops who hear it might have to smile at how slyly and sweetly she insults them… –Somnium

Check out the full playlist on Spotify for “bonus tracks”…

Part of our Songlines & Perfect Pitches series. Got tunes you think we should add to the list? Some we should cut? Tell us here, or in comments below.

Creative Politics synthesizes the best of liberal and conservative ideals with technology and history to generate policies, strategies, applications, and actions for the post-modern era that are well outside the beltway, and well beyond just talk. All Creative Politics blog posts are collaborative, living documents, the way Madison and Hamilton would create them if they were writing the Federalist Papers today. We welcome, nay urge, your feedback in the comment/discussion section below, and will be using it (with credit) to make what you just read more and more real–thanks much for your time and insights; they will go unpunished!

Is there a living thing that’s a better embodiment of the arc, the spiritual journey of politics? Someday, when we’ve collectively done everything else on earth that needs to be done, there should be a website that has pictures of every Joshua Tree on earth, the essence of each and every one captured much better than Somnium did here. Right?

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