14 March 2010

Top 20 Development Songs?

The Political Studies Association (PSA) recently did a 20 most political songs feature. I heard an interview about it on Radio 4 and smiled

With my Development Studies Association (DSA) hat on, I got thinking about international development songs. I restricted myself to songs I have.

Interestingly only 2 or 3 overlap with the PSA list (which I reviewed after compiling my list). I don't think that says anything about interdisciplinarity!

These are mine (not the DSA's) in no particular order.

1. Something Better Change -- The Stranglers. The voice of pent up frustration, often the herald of change.
2. Human Behaviour -- Bjork. As economists increasingly realise, this is not always rational.
3. Go Your Own Way -- Fleetwood Mac. In solidarity with those who refuse to mindlessly follow other people's development blueprints.
4. Everyday People--Sly and the Family Stone. People's movements force change.
5. Fight the Power -- Public Enemy. Enough said.
6. Independent Women -- Destiny's Child. "I depend on me". Love it.
7. Know Your Rights -- The Clash. And act on them.
8. Things Have Changed - Bob Dylan. Post financial crisis, yes they have See IDS' Reimagining Development initiative.
9. Changes -- David Bowie. "Turn and face the strain" of increasing uncertainty.
10. Power in the Darkness -- Tom Robinson. We're talking about freedom.
11. Stormy Weather -- Lena Horne. It's hard to find songs about climate change, part 1.
12. Hard Rain -- Shout Out Louds. It's hard to find songs about climate change, part 2.
13. Everybody's Gotta Learn Sometime -- The Korgis. Something we in the development community are not so good at.
14. All Around the World -- The Jam. "All around the world I've been looking for new". Co-construction of knowledge anyone?.
15. Oliver's Army -- Elvis Costello. For the ANC leader.
16. Big Yellow Taxi -- Joni Mitchell. "Pave paradise" indeed.
17. American Idiot -- Green Day. "Don't want to live in a nation that doesn't do medium". I love this rant against extremism for its own sake.
18. We Share our Mother's Health -- The Knife. I couldn't resist a reference to nutrition.
19. Five Years Time -- Noah and the Whale. OK, it's also hard to find a song about the MDGs.
20. Bird Flu - MIA. Chilling, in many ways.

Got some of your own songs to uncover? Share them in the comment space.


ben said...

Not well known outside Australia, but Paul Kelly's From Little Things Big Things Grow about the land rights protests of the Gurindji people is wonderful!

Lawrence said...

Don't know Paul Kelly's song,but it sounds like it should be on the list. Good to add the MJ one.

Also Roy Trivedy wants to add The Revolution Will Not Be Televised by Gil Scott-Heron (and most of his songs).

And Jules Pretty wants to add Little Lion Man by Mumford and Sons and 2 from Florence and the Machine - Howl and My Boy Builds Coffins and then to finish, Dora Jones's Better Times Will Come.

I also realised I missed out Revolution by the Beatles and Talking About a Revolution by Tracy Chapman.

Mike said...

'We're gonna move on up
Three by three
We gotta get rid of poverty'

From Billy Paul's soul classic 'Am I black enough for you'

Unknown said...

For climate change and the environment, how about MGMT's "Kids": "control yourself, take only what you need from it..."

Lawrence Haddad said...

Great suggestions, all

More coming in...

from Uma Kothari we have Harvest for the World by the islely Brothers

from David Bonbright we have
Positively 4th Street - Bob Dylan "you gotta lotta nerve to say you gotta helping hand to lend, you just want to be on the side that's winning."

Bruce Springsteen - Santa Ana "Sam Huston's still in Texas fightin' for his soul, and the times rest so uneasy under the strings of revolt."

Marvin Gaye - Mercy Mercy me

Abraham Abhishek said...

Hi Lawrence,
Thanks for this post, I think its great to use blogs to talk about such things, so that Development is discussed not just in tones of despair and hopelessness.

May I suggest "On the Turning Away" by Pink Floyd, even though its not really called a Development song

--On the turning away
From the pale and downtrodden
And the words they say
Which we won't understand

"Don't accept that what's happening
Is just a case of others' suffering
Or you'll find that you're joining in
The turning away"---

Lawrence said...

And from Myles Wickstead we have "I think you have chosen the wrong Dylan song - 'The Times they are a'Changing' gives a stronger sense of dynamic movement and constant flux than 'Things have changed'. And how about 'It's a hard rain's a'going to fall' for climate change? It's the 21st Century's fear-equivalent to the major sword hanging over our heads in the mid-20th Century, ie nuclear war, which it was all about."

Yes, great songs, and what about "Hurricane" for the denial of rights to justice?

Unknown said...

Michael Franti & spearhead would definitely be on my personal list. The song 'Hey World' is great. There are two completely different versions, both very powerful. The 'remote control' version for me is about collective action. The 'don't give up version' is about personal strungles and the need to have faith.


Michaels own explanation.
The "Remote Control" version is kind of a call to stand up, to rise up and say, "Let's throw away that remote control and let's take action."
The "Don't Give Up" version is an internal message to myself for the times when I feel weakest and most worried about the state of the world. I'm asking the world "Please don't give up on me, and if you don't then I won't give up on you."

And then I guess I would add K'naan. He is a poet, rapper and musician born in Somalia.

Again two songs.
'Fatima', although the beats are cheerful the text is actually heartbreaking. He tells about how during the war his first love was stolen.

And 'take a minute'. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DIhm94a-8SE&feature=related


Charlie Matthews said...

We've made this into a Spotify playlist: http://bit.ly/cuvtOr
If you have suggestions either post them here or tweet them to us @ids_uk wiht the hashtag #developmentplaylist

Charlie Matthews (IDS)

Cat said...

Must add ‘Bed are Burning':
· By Midnight Oil – former frontman Peter Garrett now Australia’s Minister for Environmental Protection, Heritage and the Arts.
· Beds Are Burning is a political song about giving native Australian lands back to the Pintupi.
· On October 2, 2009, 60 musicians and celebrities from around the world released a free reworked version rewritten by Midnight Oil to highlight climate change issues. This was the first ever global “musical petition” created to mobilise people to pressure their leaders to agree a climate justice deal at the UN’s Copenhgen Climate Change Summit. Singers included Lily Allen, Simon Le Bon from the '80s group Duran Duran and Bob Geldof. The former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and French actress Marion Cotillard also added their voices to the cover version.

‘The time has come, to take a stand, it’s for the earth, it’s for our land.
The time has come, a fact’s a fact, the heat is on, no turning back.’

George Kagame said...

I think there needs a song or two from Bob Marley as well;

Anonymous said...

Middle class and a very Eurocentric listing; just shows how myopic these self proclaimed "development" gurus are. Coming up with "Top 20 Development Songs" pretending you have sampled everything to do with it.

Where is Bob Marley? A real hero of developing world - Redemption Song, Survival, Revolution etc.... And Tracy Chapman? Arguably the most consistent socially aware artist of her generation. By that I am not only talking about Revolution.

Anonymous said...

"WORK" Bob Marley - come together ... and make it work, we can make it work!

Rai said...

Sara McLaughlin's World on Fire is a must have on this list!

Siena Anstis said...

K'Naan's 15 Minutes Away is brilliant. Rapping about money transfers - can't get better than that!

Lawrence Haddad said...

Re middle class, Eurocentric... I plead guilty, although between the ages of 9 and 16 I grew up on welfare in a single parent family on a tough council estate in tower block loveliness...

As for Redemption Song, a bad miss, as was Get Up Stand Up, Street Fighting Man (Stones) etc.

The point is, tell us what your favourites are...

Best, Lawrence

Anonymous said...

There is not better song than "Imagine" for peaceful collective development!