Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, and The Beatles Have Always Been “Woke.” You Just Weren’t Paying Attention.
Being a fan of Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, and The Beatles has made me a great many things—one being a point of confusion for older men. They see me wearing a Dylan shirt or singing Springsteen at karaoke and wonder how I have discovered their music, as if a) the internet doesn’t exist or b) we don’t pass music down throughout generations or c) they aren’t STILL making music.
But in being a fan of these artists, I’ve also come to recognize that other “fans” do not understand the music they claim to love. Right now, in the midst of protests and arguments around the world, these three have done what they always did and are standing up for the Black Lives Matter movement and have shared their upset over the political climate and shared their own hatred towards police brutality.
But there are some who are … shocked by this, judging by the reactions to their statements on social media. How? This is just as wild as some Rage Against the Machine fans apparently … not knowing what machine they were raging against. Just for context, I want to share specific examples from these artists from the past that show that their support for Black Lives Matter and opposition to police brutality is … not anything new.
Let’s go back, first, to The Beatles. Straight from the horse’s mouth (so to speak), McCartney posted about how The Beatles refused to perform if the audiences were segregated back in the ’60s.
— Paul McCartney (@PaulMcCartney) June 5, 2020
There was also a segment on Fox News that said John Lennon would “not be safe” in New York right now, which is laughable, since John Lennon was famously shot and killed in New York City in front of his apartment building, BUT actually hilarious because John Lennon was nearly always on the front lines of protests …
John Lennon would be at the protests, no doubt right at the front.
— … (@Jonny_Hallam) June 4, 2020
And all of this is also present in their music. They were openly against the Vietnam War, and Lennon was even labeled an enemy of the United States. So, that’s just The Beatles.
Then, we have Bob Dylan, who wrote the song “Hurricane” in 1975 about the wrongful imprisonment of Rubin “Hurricane” Carter. That’s just the beginning of Dylan’s “protest” songs (though his use of the n-word in there is certainly open for criticism) that he had written throughout his career, and even now, he’s still the kind of man who talks about the injustices that he sees.
In his latest interview (the first one he’s done in four years), Variety points out that he’s still the same Dylan we’ve come to know throughout the years:
The one-time “protest singer” has remained tuned in to distressing current events. Brinkley describes him as “sounding depressed” in a recent follow-up phone call as talk turned to events in his home state of Minnesota. ““It sickened me no end to see George tortured to death like that,” Dylan says. “It was beyond ugly. Let’s hope that justice comes swift for the Floyd family and for the nation.”
And then, there is the Boss, Bruce Springsteen, who, back in 2014, released the song “American Skin (41 Shots)” about the killing of Amadou Diallo by the police. (It was written many years prior but put on an album in 2014.)
Springsteen then went on to talk about George Floyd’s death and the world we are currently seeing.
— Bruce Springsteen (@springsteen) June 4, 2020
I guess my point is that none of this should be surprising, and I keep seeing people suddenly shocked that Springsteen or McCartney or Dylan are speaking out. Actually, it shouldn’t surprise me, because people don’t like to do their own research and look into the people they’re listening to—or think at all about the meaning of the lyrics they’re singing along to, I guess.
But, so you know for the future, Bruce Springsteen taking a stand against injustices in our world (specifically in regards to police brutality) is something the Boss is wont to do. And that’s what makes him the greatest.
(image: Columbia Records)
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