Songs that make people move
April 24, 2010 5:19 PM   Subscribe

I am looking for songs that have brought people together, inspired them to persevere, made them desire to act or hope for a brighter future during any point in history. I am particularly interested in popular songs, songs from the African American community (including rap), work songs or religious songs that had these effects on people. However, I am interested in anything that you can come up with.
posted by qexcp to Society & Culture (26 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
We Shall Overcome.
posted by Rash at 5:20 PM on April 24, 2010

Strange Fruit, by Billie Holiday
Mississippi Goddam, by Nina Simone
A Change is Gonna Come, by Otis Redding
Say It Loud (I'm Black and I'm Proud), by James Brown

All available on Let Freedom Sing! Music of the Civil Rights Movement (Amazon link).
posted by BitterOldPunk at 5:38 PM on April 24, 2010

Keep On Pushin'
posted by box at 5:38 PM on April 24, 2010

People Get Ready
posted by box at 5:39 PM on April 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

We're a Winner
posted by box at 5:39 PM on April 24, 2010

Keep Your Eyes on the Prize
posted by emilyd22222 at 5:51 PM on April 24, 2010

Where is the Love - Black Eyed Peas

For What It's Worth -Buffalo Springfield

Fight The Power -Public Enemy (long but worth it)

Say It Loud - I'm Black and I'm Proud -James Brown

Swing Low Sweet Chariot -this version by Etta James

Wade In the Water -this version by The Charioteers

You Must Learn -KRS One

Special bonus: Buffalo Spingfeild PLUS Public Enemy
posted by Truthiness at 5:54 PM on April 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

Lift Every Voice and Sing
posted by 4ster at 6:04 PM on April 24, 2010

Not to push politics one way or the other, but Yes We Can (by, based on Obama's concession speech in the 2008 NH primary) seems to be a contemporary example of what you mention.
posted by fogster at 6:13 PM on April 24, 2010

We Are the World

Do They Know It's Christmas

Ohio - Crosby Stills Nash and Young
posted by MexicanYenta at 6:57 PM on April 24, 2010

I came in here to suggest the Yes We Can that fogster linked to above.
posted by onlyconnect at 7:50 PM on April 24, 2010

Sunday Bloody Sunday by U2.
posted by 4ster at 7:53 PM on April 24, 2010

I'm not sure it has actually inspired people (other than myself), but the Dropkick Murphys' Worker's Song is certainly intended to fall into this genre.

Baseball genius and old-guy rocker Peter Gammons has called for that song to become the anthem of the Democratic Party -- an idea I heartily endorse.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:14 PM on April 24, 2010

John Lennon, "Give Peace A Chance" and "Imagine". (I will remember a moment involving "Give Peace A Chance" to my very last day on earth - it was September 14th, 2001, and my then-boyfriend and I showed up at the impromptu rally in Union Square Park - clusters of people all through the park kept trying to start songs and they kept petering out, until one group in one corner started singing "Give Peace A Chance" and other people heard them and joined in -- and then the group got bigger and bigger and bigger, and we ran out of actual verses, so we just kept singing 'All we are saaaaaaaayinnnnnng is give peace a chance" over and over, for a good five solid minutes, and God we needed that.)

Here's what Wikipedia has to say about this subject in general.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:43 PM on April 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

I've heard it argued that Bob Marley's music had such an impact on a variety of groups, but I'm not sure I've seen anything to back this up. What little I know of his work, Redemption Song and One Love seem to stand out as possibilities to look into.
posted by knile at 9:00 PM on April 24, 2010

I saw a documentary about John Lennon that showed some very large crowds singing "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" and it seemed to be a pretty hot topic with reporters at the time.
posted by lhall at 9:06 PM on April 24, 2010

"The Mary Ellen Carter" by Stan Rogers
posted by Hobgoblin at 6:28 AM on April 25, 2010

The Internationale? By far, my favourite version is this one sung in Mandarin by Tang Dynasty: Internationale (Rock Style).
posted by typewriter at 8:06 AM on April 25, 2010

Talkin' Bout a Revolution by Tracy Chapman
Imagine by John Lennon
The Times They Are A' Changin' by Bob Dylan
Fortunate Son by CCR
New York, New York by Ryan Adams
Beds Are Burning by Midnight Oil (and many others from that band)
Bulls on Parade (and others) by Rage Against The Machine
posted by jimmythefish at 8:46 AM on April 25, 2010

Two that were released on-line after the disaster in Haiti:

We are the World (American Artists)
Wavin' Flag (Canadian Artists)

Both are on YouTube. Interestingly, Justin Bieber is featured in both of them :)
posted by JoannaC at 11:11 AM on April 25, 2010

Basically anything by Fela Kuti.
posted by Lutoslawski at 12:05 PM on April 25, 2010

Pescador de hombres / TĂș has venido a la orilla. (English: Fisher of Men / You have come down to the lakeshore.)
posted by tivalasvegas at 2:17 PM on April 25, 2010

Express yourself-NWA
posted by hal_c_on at 12:48 AM on April 26, 2010

Changes - Tupac
It's a pretty depressing song but I find it moving.
posted by sammyabdu at 4:58 AM on April 26, 2010

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