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Morning Song – Get Up, Stand Up

December 10, 2015

(One in a series of songs that Rolling Stone left out of its 2013 “reader’s poll” of the “10 best protest songs of all time”.)

Among the (multitudinous) disappointing features of Rolling Stone’s “10 best protest songs” list is how dated it sounds.  Far too many of the songs on the list are irrevocably tied not just to the 1960s but to a very specific and limited segment of the anti-Vietnam War movement.

By contrast—despite being released over 40 years ago, despite coming from the periphery of the Americas (Jamaica is roughly equidistant from North, Central and South America), despite verses framed largely as a theological disputation between Christians and Rastafaris—“Get Up, Stand Up” is no museum piece.  You can still hear it at rallies and protests today, and it’s a regular on playlists and mixtapes made by politically engaged young people the world over.

You can fool some people sometimes,
But you can’t fool all the people all the time.
So now we see the light (What you gonna do?),
We gonna stand up for our rights! (Yeah, yeah, yeah!)

 

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