Top 25 patriotic protest songs

5. "Respect" by Aretha Franklin

Otis Redding actually wrote and recorded this song before Franklin's definitive version was released in 1967. The fact that she could commandeer a song from one of the most boisterous male voices in soul music and reclaim it for women is a testament to how powerful Franklin was at the height of her power. This song remains one the most popular and widely recognized anthems for the equality of women.

4. "Fuck the Police" by N.W.A

In 1988, four years before riots tore through Los Angeles—in response to a long history of police brutality that culminated with the acquittal of the L.A. police officers that brutally beat Rodney King—N.W.A predicted that groundswell of emotional intensity with this legendarily explicit song.

3. "Blowin' in the Wind" by Bob Dylan

Dylan has written so many outstanding politically charged songs, but "Blowin' in the Wind" is his crowning achievement. From war to Civil Rights, this song leaves no stone unturned. It's probably the most famous protest song ever, and he claims to have composed it in ten minutes. Showoff.

2. "A Change Is Gonna Come" by Sam Cooke

Apparently, Cooke wrote this revelatory Civil Rights tune in 1963, after hearing Dylan's "Blowin' in the Wind." Like Dylan, Cooke manages to do the impossible with this song: address the plight of his day with language that has a timeless and universal resonance.

1. "This Land Is Your Land" by Woody Guthrie

This classic folk song has become a sing-along staple in elementary schools from sea to shining sea, symbolizing to many Americans the exceptionalism and equality that this country has embodied since our first Independence Day. In reality, however, Guthrie was a lefty activist who was disgusted by American capitalism. He wrote this song in 1943 as a snide reaction to "God Bless America." This simple folk tune is the ultimate protest song, not because of its societal critique, but for the invigorating call to arms in the last—and often unsung—stanza.

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5