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American Pride? 11 Songs About A Complicated America, From Prince, Dolly Parton & More
In America's current political climate, 4th of July 2022 may be approached with mixed feelings. But as artists like Childish Gambino and Nina Simone have expressed in song, the U.S. has long had its challenges.
As America turns 246 years old on July 4, this Independence Day may not find most Americans feeling as free as they might have on Fourth of Julys past. Yet, as the fight to maintain democracy heats up to an uncomfortable degree, we can still seek solace and strength from the songs that are written about America and use them to inspire change.
The 11 songs presented here span more than 50 years of social activism. They collectively illuminate how fighting for rights and equality have threaded American society, and how there's still plenty of room for growth. There's a lot to despair over right now, but the accompanying playlist is intended as a reminder not to lose hope during the long fight ahead.
Nina Simone — "Mississippi Goddam" (1964)
Racial segregation and oppression in the civil rights movement battleground states — Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee — are Nina Simone's focus in "Mississippi Goddam." "Desegregation," she sings, as her band responds, "Do it slow." "Mass participation (do it slow)/ Reunification (do it slow)/ Do things gradually (do it slow)/ But bring more tragedy (do it slow)/ Why don't you see it/ Why don't you feel it?"
"I didn't like 'protest music' because a lot of it was so simple and unimaginative it stripped the dignity away from the people it was trying to celebrate," she wrote in her 2003 book I Put a Spell On You. "But the Alabama church bombing and the murder of Medgar Evers stopped that argument and with 'Mississippi Goddam,' I realized there was no turning back."
Gil Scott Heron — "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" (1971)
Originally recorded as a poem for Gil Scott Heron's 1970 album Small Talk at 125th and Lenox, "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" was set to music for his Pieces of a Man album that was released the following year. The idea of not being able to just sit home and watch real change take place still resonates in a digital activism era.
"The revolution will not be right back/ After a message about a white tornado," he says in the piece. "White lightning, or white people/ You will not have to worry about a dove in your bedroom."
Pointer Sisters — "Yes We Can Can" (1973)
Oakland's hit-making Pointer Sisters recorded "Yes We Can Can" the same year as the case of Roe vs. Wade was decided in the Supreme Court. It's an apt time to return to the song's hopefulness as fuel in the fire to regain reproductive rights.
"We got to iron out our problems/ And iron out our quarrels," the Sisters sing. "And try to live as brothers/ And try to find peace within/ Without stepping on one another/ And do respect the women of the world/ Remember you all have mothers."
Prince and The Revolution — "America" (1985)
Thanks to a funked-up thread of the familiar refrain of "America, America, God shed his grace on thee" — from the 19th Century standard "America the Beautiful" — Prince's "America" can pass as a thoroughly patriotic song to people who don't dig deeply into the still-relevant critiques in his lyrics.
"Jimmy Nothing never went to school/ They made him pledge allegiance/ He said it wasn't cool/ Nothing made Jimmy proud/ Now Jimmy lives on a mushroom cloud."
The anxiety of nuclear war that weighed heavily on songs of this era can be understood in the context of the present, with Russian attacks on Ukrainian nuclear power plants that have taken place in just the last few months.
Rage Against The Machine — "Take The Power Back" (1992)
This early Rage Against The Machine song from 1992 stands well today as an activist anthem in the disinformation age of book-banning and school curriculum upheaval. "Take The Power Back" advocates for the truth to be told and for the power to return to the people.
"In the right light, study becomes insight," sings frontman Zack de la Rocha. "But the system that dissed us/ Teaches us to read and write/ So called facts are fraud/ They want us to allege and pledge/ And bow down to their god."
Tune-Yards — "My Country" (2011)
It's been over a decade since Oakland musicians Merrill Garbus and Nate Brenner — together, known as Tune-Yards — released "My Country." But the song's lyrics about America's vast inequalities, especially for those seeking a new home here, still apply just as much as they did in 2011.
"My country, 'tis of thee/ Sweet land of liberty/ How come I cannot see my future within your arms," Garbus sings angrily.
Childish Gambino — "This Is America" (2018)
Donald Glover's unflinching look at being Black in America hits hard — and is especially potent when absorbed with the accompanying music video, which won the GRAMMY for Best Music Video in 2019. The video brings the song to life in vivid detail, including burning cars, police terror and Gambino murdering a choir with a machine gun.
The song's lyrics about the anxiety of guns expresses a sentiment that unfortunately still holds true today, as the first half of 2022 has been particularly deadly with gun violence across the country. "Yeah, this is America," he raps with increasing alarm on the song. "Guns in my area/ I got the strap/ I gotta carry 'em."
"I just wanted to make, you know, a good song," Glover told E! in an interview on the red carpet at the Met Gala in 2018. "Something people could play on Fourth of July."
Glover took home three more GRAMMY Awards for "This Is America" in 2019: Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Best Rap/Sung Performance.
Dolly Parton — "19th Amendment" (2018)
Dolly Parton steps in with some crucial history about women's rights in "19th Amendment," presented in her endearingly bubbly style. The song is a highlight of 27: The Most Perfect Album, a compilation of songs from various artists who wrote about one of the 27 Amendments to the Constitution. (On the album, it's titled "19th Amendment," as each track's title is the Amendment it's about. Parton refers to the song as "A Woman's Right.") The project was released in 2018 by Radiolab at New York's WNYC Studios before the midterm elections.
"It is the duty of the women of this country to secure for themselves the sacred right to vote," she insists in the song.
"Being lucky enough to be a successful woman in business, I wanted to exercise my right to write about the 19th Amendment to praise and uplift women," Parton said in an interview with WNYC.
Gary Clark Jr. — "This Land" (2019)
Gary Clark Jr. is a six-time GRAMMY winner who is lauded around the world for his artistic prowess. But as an American — and, more specifically, as a Texan — he is still keenly aware of how racism still persists in this country. "This Land," which is the title track to his 2019 album, was written after a neighbor confronted him in disbelief that a Black man could own the property where Clark lives, a 50-acre horse ranch in Kyle, Texas.
"N<em></em><em></em> run, n<em></em><em></em>a run/ Go back where you come from," stings the chorus.
"I just wanted to let it be known: this land is your land, but it's mine too, and we all, as Americans, as citizens of this country, should all have an equal shot," he told The Guardian.
Maino — "I Can't Breathe" (2020)
The death of George Floyd inspired a lot of powerful music in 2020. Before the late Eric Garner was killed at the hands of NYPD in 2014, he said, "I can't breathe," which Floyd also said when he was killed by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. The phrase is now associated with the Black Lives Matter movement and international activism against police brutality.
While several artists have released songs pertaining to police brutality, a few have specifically named songs "I Can't Breathe" — including H.E.R., whose single won the GRAMMY for Song Of The Year in 2021. "Stripped of bloodlines, whipped and confined/This is the American pride," she says in a spoken word portion of the song.
Brooklyn rapper Maino also released a song called "I Can't Breathe" in 2020, using the compelling track to call out the history of the continued police brutality against Black people. "Think I'm tired of bein' silent," he rhymes over an interpolation of the music from Fugees' "Ready or Not." "Tired of people not tired to see us dyin.'"
Lukas Nelson — "Untitled" (2022)
"Now the stars don't shine for her at night/ They're just holes in the sky," sings Nelson (who is Willie Nelson's son and the frontman of Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real). "They don't give no light/ And the darkness lingers/ Endlessly/ For she must carry the seed."
Rolling Stone noted that it joins notable songs about abortion that have recently been released, such as "Disorders" by Ani DeFranco and Stone Gossard, or re-recorded, like Cyndi Lauper's new version of 1993's "Sally's Rights."
The soul of America has long been reflected in the music that's written about it. As history has shown, artists aren't afraid to speak their minds in song — and as the fight for a more equal, peaceful country continues, there are likely many more to follow.
Photo: Ron Howard/Redferns
John Lennon, Sting, Alicia Keys: 7 Songs For Starting Over In 2018
With hits from Leonard Cohen, the Byrds, Nina Simone, and more, find the motivation for a brand-new you this New Year
Each New Year offers the opportunity for a fresh new start, whether you're looking to wash away the sins of the previous year or reinvent a better future that follows your ultimate dreams. Starting over isn't an easy task, but we have one recommendation that will help motivate you: music.
Don't be a fuddy duddy. Kick-start 2018 with this playlist of seven songs all about starting over, including hits from John Lennon, the Byrds, Sting, and Alicia Keys, among others.
1. The Byrds, "Turn! Turn! Turn!"
Starting with its lyrics, "To everything (turn, turn, turn)/There is a season," this GRAMMY Hall Of Fame classic is a great reminder that everything is always changing anyway, so now is as good a time as any to give something new a chance. The composition was written by Pete Seeger in the late 1950s, but the lyrics come almost verbatim from the Book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible. The song didn't hit it big until the Byrds got their turn at it in 1965. Reportedly, it took Roger McGuinn & Co. 78 takes to perfect their folk-rock arrangement.
2. Leonard Cohen, "Anthem"
GRAMMY winner Leonard Cohen had a knack for poetry powerful enough to move mountains, and his "Anthem" is one such gem. This 1992 tune about embracing imperfection and marching forward in the face of adversity contains one of Cohen's most-quoted lines: "Ring the bells that still can ring/Forget your perfect offering/There is a crack, a crack in everything/That's how the light gets in." And we'll leave you with one final line from the master that encapsulates starting over: "The birds they sing, at the break of day/Start again, I heard them say/Don't dwell on what has passed away/Or what is yet to be."
3. Gil Scott-Heron, "I'm New Here"
Taken from his 2010 album of the same name, "I'm New Here" came near the end of Gil Scott-Heron's storied life. The album saw Scott-Heron, according to Drowned In Sound's Robert Ferguson, "pick over the bones of his life, acknowledging the hard times and his own mistakes, but standing proud of all they have led him to become." Embodying this sentiment accompanied only by an acoustic guitar, Scott-Heron's bluesy, semi-spoken "I'm New Here" brings out the poignancy of change. Its key lyric, "No matter how far wrong you've gone/You can always turn around," is something to keep in mind year-round, let alone January.
4. Alicia Keys, "Brand New Me"
Alicia Keys went full bore on the empowering messages of her 2012 album, Girl On Fire — the Best R&B Album winner at the 56th GRAMMY Awards — including the track, "Brand New Me." Co-written with singer/songwriter Emeli Sandé, the soft pop/R&B ballad describes growing as a person and becoming a brand-new version of yourself. "Brand new me is about the journey it takes to get to a place where you are proud to be a new you," Keys wrote on her website at the time of the song's release.
5. John Lennon, "(Just Like) Starting Over"
A quintessential start-anew song, former Beatle John Lennon included "(Just Like) Starting Over" on his GRAMMY-winning 1980 album, Double Fantasy. "(Just Like) Starting Over" was the album's first single because Lennon felt it best represented his return following a five-year hiatus from music. It's also a love song, but the theme of starting over has a universal resonance "It's time to spread our wings and fly/Don't let another day go by my love/It'll be just like starting over." It became Lennon's second chart-topping single in the U.S., reaching No. 1 after his death on Dec. 8, 1980.
6. Nina Simone, "Feeling Good"
"It's a new dawn/It's a new day/It's a new life for me/I'm feelin' good." Could you ask for better lyrics for embarking on a new journey? Nina Simone recorded her version of "Feeling Good," which was originally written for the musical "The Roar Of The Greasepaint — The Smell Of The Crowd," on her 1965 album I Put A Spell On You. While artists such as Michael Bublé, John Coltrane, George Michael, and Muse subsequently covered it, no alternative is quite as powerful — or soulful — as Simone's.
7. Sting, "Brand New Day"
Sting's "Brand New Day" has a lesson for inspiring motivation to start the New Year with fresh eyes: "Turn the clock to zero, buddy/Don't wanna be no fuddy-duddy/We started up a brand new day." The bright, catchy pop tune and its namesake 1999 album resonated with fans, landing it at No. 9 on the Billboard 200. The track (and album) earned Sting GRAMMYs — Best Male Pop Vocal Performance and Best Pop Album — at the 42nd GRAMMY Awards.
2017 Special Merit Awards: Sly Stone, Velvet Underground, Nina Simone
Shirley Caesar and Charley Pride are also among The Recording Academy's 2017 Special Merit Awards recipients
The Recording Academy announced its 2017 Special Merit Awards recipients. The Lifetime Achievement Award honorees are Shirley Caesar, Ahmad Jamal, Charley Pride, Jimmie Rodgers, Nina Simone, Sly Stone and The Velvet Underground. Thom Bell, Mo Ostin and Ralph S. Peer are Trustees Award honorees; Alan Dower Blumlein is the Technical GRAMMY Award recipient.
"This year's Special Merit Awards recipients comprise a prestigious group of diverse and influential creators who have crafted or contributed to some of the most distinctive recordings in music history," said Neil Portnow, President/CEO of The Recording Academy. "These exceptionally inspiring figures are being honored as legendary performers, creative architects, and technical visionaries. Their outstanding accomplishments and passion for their respective crafts have created a timeless legacy."
The Lifetime Achievement Award celebrates performers who have made outstanding contributions of artistic significance to the field of recording, while the Trustees Award honors contributions in areas other than performance. The recipients are determined by vote of The Recording Academy's National Board of Trustees. Technical GRAMMY Award recipients are voted on by The Academy's Producers & Engineers Wing Advisory Council and Chapter Committees, and are ratified by The Academy's Trustees. The award is presented to individuals and/or companies who have made contributions of outstanding technical significance to the recording industry.
Additionally, The Recording Academy and Hal Leonard Books will release A GRAMMY Salute To Music Legends, a hardcover book that collects two decades of artist-written tributes to The Academy's annual Special Merit Awards honorees. Among those who have written tributes included in the book are Eric Clapton, Elvis Costello, Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea, Whoopi Goldberg, Ice Cube, Miranda Lambert, Queen guitarist Brian May, Dolly Parton, Carly Simon, Patti Smith and Yo-Yo Ma. The tributes were originally commissioned for the annual GRAMMY Awards program book and never published widely until now. A GRAMMY Salute To Music Legends will be available in early January.
The 59th GRAMMY Awards will take place Sunday, Feb. 12, 2017, live from Staples Center in Los Angeles and broadcast on the CBS Television Network from 8–11:30 pm ET/5–8:30 pm PT. Follow Recording Academy/GRAMMYs on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and use #GRAMMYs to join the conversation.
ACL Celebrates 40 Years
After 40 years and more than 800 performances, "Austin City Limits" continues to thrive as America's longest-running televised music program
When GRAMMY winner Gary Clark Jr. taped his "Austin City Limits" episode with Alabama Shakes in late 2012, the blues guitarist had already performed at the White House with Buddy Guy, Mick Jagger, Jeff Beck, and B.B. King, and played alongside Eric Clapton. In fact, Clark had also already played on "Austin City Limits," appearing five seasons earlier in a tribute to Jimmy Reed. But when he stood center stage before its iconic Austin skyline backdrop, finally joining a fraternity populated by so many of his idols, the Austin, Texas, native, then 28, said, "I've been wanting to do this for 16 years."
Like Clark, who learned to play guitar by wearing out his VHS tape of the 1996 tribute episode to Stevie Ray Vaughan, GRAMMY nominee Sarah Jarosz also grew up watching the public television series — which, unlike other TV programs, showcases artists performing actual, uninterrupted sets. Multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter Jarosz, who was raised in Wimberley, just outside of Austin, recalls, "Just getting to see some of my musical heroes on that show was pretty priceless, and inspiring."
The PBS series — the longest-running televised music program in the United States — has helped launch careers for 39 years. Even those who gain international renown before setting foot on the show's storied stage count their performance as a bucket list/holy grail moment. On Oct. 3, the night before season 40 kicks off with GRAMMY winner Beck, PBS will air "Austin City Limits Celebrates 40 Years," a two-hour special featuring some of the series' most beloved artists and rising stars, from Kris Kristofferson, Bonnie Raitt and Joe Ely to Clark and Alabama Shakes.
Co-hosted by actor/musician Jeff Bridges and GRAMMY winner Sheryl Crow, the special combines footage from a four-hour event taped in June and the show's inaugural Austin City Limits Hall of Fame induction ceremony, held in April. Among the first class of inductees were GRAMMY-winning pedal steel player Lloyd Maines, Vaughan and Willie Nelson, who taped the pilot episode of "Austin City Limits" in 1974.
ACL, as it's commonly called, has featured more than 800 live performances since it first aired 40 years ago. Conceived by KLRU-TV (then KLRN) program director Bill Arhos, producer Paul Bosner and director Bruce Scafe, the series initially focused on the unique music scene that had sprouted in central Texas, where country, blues, folk, and rock had cross-pollinated into something labeled progressive country, or "redneck rock." (Nelson's strain was dubbed "outlaw country." The nascent genre would become known as alt-country before morphing into Americana.) Broadcast during a 1975 PBS pledge drive, the show's fundraising success got it picked up for the 1976 season.
Since then, it's managed not only to stay on the air, but gain popularity, weathering the birth of MTV and other competition for viewers' attention. Time magazine has cited ACL as one of the 10 most influential music programs in TV history. It's also the only television program ever awarded a National Medal of Arts. Other accolades include a Peabody Award and its designation as an official rock and roll landmark (both the show and its venues) by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.
"Nobody ever thought it would go this long," says KLRU CEO and General Manager Bill Stotesbery. "Shows don't run this long in television. I think it's due to the fact that the show's maintained a very high level of quality and that it's on PBS, because PBS has a commitment to this kind of programming."
ACL also grew well beyond KLRU's Studio 6A on the University of Texas campus, its home for 36 years. In 2002 the series spawned the now-annual Austin City Limits Festival and in 2011 PBS first aired the "ACL Presents: Americana Music Festival," featuring highlights from the Americana Honors & Awards Show. Also in 2011, the series relocated to the newly built ACL Live at the Moody Theater in downtown Austin on Willie Nelson Avenue, with audience capacity increasing from 350 to 2,750.
For Jarosz and performers such as GRAMMY-winning jazz artist Esperanza Spalding, who wasn't allowed to watch non-PBS programming as a child, both stages hold magic — as does the experience of playing on them.
"To get to really do a [full] set, it's like performing one act of a play or performing three acts of a play," says Spalding. "It makes a difference for the audience to see a fuller palette of what you are as an artist. … It's really such a luxury to get to stretch out and show your whole self. Forty years is a testament to that. People want to know what the artist is saying."
There's a definite career bump, too.
"Probably 90 percent of the people who come up to me after my live shows say that [ACL's] how they heard about me and that's where they first saw my performance and heard my music," says Jarosz, who was 18 when she recorded her first episode. "To be given that chance really has helped a lot."
ACL executive producer and host Terry Lickona, who also co-produces the GRAMMY Awards and is a former Recording Academy Chair, says the show's longevity has made it even more desirable to artists.
"They see 'Austin City Limits' as a validation of their music," notes Lickona, who joined ACL in its second season.
His wish list still includes Bruce Springsteen and Prince, who's apparently a fan.
"I've heard from other people [Prince] saw Esperanza Spalding and Grupo Fantasma, and he loves to tune in to see if there's somebody new he's never heard of before," says Lickona.
Speaking of career bumps, Prince subsequently hired Grupo Fantasma as his backing band for various high-profile gigs, including a Golden Globes after-party.
Lickona also still gets a thrill from discovering new, original talent, too, and sharing it with viewers — via TV, the Internet or some other still-to-come technology.
"We're all proud of where 'Austin City Limits' has come from," says Ed Bailey, vice president of brand development for ACL. "But we're proud of where it's going. Forty years is a stopping off point to celebrate where we've been … but we're also looking for the next thing. That's why ACL still matters."
(Austin, Texas-based writer/editor Lynne Margolis has contributed to a variety of print, broadcast and online media, including American Songwriter and Paste magazines, Rollingstone.com, the Christian Science Monitor and NPR. She also writes bios for new and established artists.)
Let Freedom Ring With The March On Washington GRAMMY Playlist
Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington with a song
On Aug. 28, 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., and declared in his landmark "I Have A Dream" speech, "Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood."
In 2012 The Recording Academy recognized King's speech for its historical significance by inducting the recording into the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame. Delivered before 250,000 people, "I Have A Dream" culminated the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, a rally organized by a coalition of civil rights organizations that called for the passage of meaningful civil rights legislation and a program to provide jobs, among other demands.
Several artists have used music to call for a solid rock of brotherhood and sisterly love over the years. GRAMMY winners Bob Dylan; Peter, Paul & Mary; and Mahalia Jackson were among the performers who stood beside King at the March on Washington and dared to dream of a better America. On Aug. 28 President Barack Obama — joined by fellow GRAMMY winners such as LeAnn Rimes and BeBe Winans and former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton — will deliver his own speech at the Let Freedom Ring Commemoration and Call to Action bell-ringing ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.
As bells toll throughout the country, we encourage you to let freedom ring by marching to the beat of our March on Washington 50th anniversary GRAMMY playlist.
"Blowin' In The Wind"
Peter, Paul & Mary, Best Performance By A Vocal Group, Best Folk Recording, 1963; GRAMMY Hall Of Fame, inducted 2003
Peter, Paul & Mary's cover of Bob Dylan's popular protest song was one of two songs performed by the trio at the March on Washington. The two-time GRAMMY-winning track fittingly asked marchers, "How many roads must a man walk down/Before you call him a man?" The answer, of course, was blowin' in the wind.
"A Change Is Gonna Come"
Sam Cooke, GRAMMY Hall Of Fame, inducted 2000
Considered one of the defining anthems of the civil rights movement, "A Change Is Gonna Come" was released in 1964 by R&B singer Cooke as a response to Dylan's "Blowin' In The Wind." Cooke's harrowing track was voted No. 12 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list and epitomizes the hope and change King called for 50 years ago.
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, GRAMMY Hall Of Fame, inducted 2009
Although written by Canadian Neil Young, "Ohio" spoke to the outrage many felt over the Kent State shootings in Kent, Ohio, in 1970. The song openly questioned the deaths of four unarmed students who were killed by the Ohio National Guard during a campus Vietnam War protest.
"Get Up, Stand Up"
Bob Marley & The Wailers, GRAMMY Hall Of Fame, inducted 1999
Written by Bob Marley and Peter Tosh, this classic reggae tune was featured on the Wailers' 1973 album Burnin'. The group's signature call to action demanded people "get up, stand up/Stand up for your rights." In 1999 the track was the first reggae song to be inducted into the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame.
"Born In The U.S.A."
Bruce Springsteen, Record Of The Year nominee, 1985
Though often misinterpreted as a patriotic anthem, "Born In The U.S.A." actually speaks to the desperate flip side of the American dream encountered by some Vietnam War veterans. Still, the album of the same name garnered a GRAMMY nomination for Album Of The Year, spawned no less than seven Top 10 hits and was inducted into the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame in 2012.
"Fight The Power"
Public Enemy, Best Rap Performance nominee, 1989
It might take a nation of millions to hold back listeners of Public Enemy's confrontational and controversial hit "Fight The Power." Chosen by director Spike Lee as the musical theme for his 1989 film Do The Right Thing, the track calls out everyone from Elvis to the American government, imploring people to "fight the powers that be."
Rage Against The Machine, Best Hard Rock Performance, 2000
Featured on Rage Against The Machine's 1999 GRAMMY-nominated album The Battle Of Los Angeles, "Guerrilla Radio" is the band's call to cut off the lights, turn up the radio and tune out those they describe as "vultures who thirst for blood and oil."
The Beatles, The Beatles, GRAMMY Hall Of Fame, inducted 2000
A year before John Lennon and Yoko Ono famously held a two-week bed-in for peace in 1969, the Beatles released this Lennon/McCartney penned tune featured on The Beatles ("The White Album"). The song spoke to Lennon's skepticism about some of the radical tactics used to protest the Vietnam War, offering the tongue-in-cheek guarantee that everything was "gonna be alright."
Edwin Starr, Best R&B Vocal Performance, Male nominee, 1970
Written by Barrett Strong and Norman Whitfield in protest of the Vietnam War, "War" was originally recorded by the Temptations. Starr's version of this classic track helped him achieve legendary status on the soul circuit. His cover was intense and direct, simply stating: "I said, war, good gawd ya'll/What is it good for?/Absolutely nothing!"
"The Times They Are A-Changin'"
Bob Dylan, GRAMMY Hall Of Fame, inducted 2013
After the release of "Blowin' In The Wind," Dylan provided another anthemic protest song with "The Times They Are A-Changin'." Since its release in 1964, the song has been covered by artists such as the Beach Boys, Joan Baez, Phil Collins, Billy Joel, and Nina Simone, among others, during both challenging and ever-changing times.
"What The World Needs Now Is Love"
Jackie DeShannon, GRAMMY Hall Of Fame, inducted 2008
After all the protests, marches and calls for change have quieted down, arguably no song should be cranked up as loud as DeShannon's 1965 hit "What The World Needs Now Is Love." Per DeShannon: All we need "is love, sweet love/No, not just for some, but for everyone."
Know a song that changed the world? Let us know in the comments.