Home Inspirational Rebel Against The Rules – The Power In Music

Rebel Against The Rules – The Power In Music

by Robbie Dellow
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A few talented, and somewhat courageous, songwriters have used the power of music to to get across strong messages to their attentive audiences. These messages can come in the form of lyrics encouraging to rebel against the rules, be that against the establishment and its rules on society, treatment of minority groups, or any cover other form of oppression.

Oftentimes the meanings in many of these songs will be buried deep within the lyrics so as to encourage the listener to ponder, and even debate, what is being vocalised. Many of the following songs have been used as the basis for protest, uprising and increase of groundswell support for a cause. Such is the power music can have.

By going against unwritten rules of song writing (generate meaningless love and pop music) these lyricists are willing to endanger their careers for something the deeply feel for.

Anti Establishment

God Save the Queen  (The Sex Pistols : 1977) – Released to possibly concede with the Queen of England’s celebration of 25 years on the throne (Silver Jubilee), this punk rock band created controversy with its hard hitting lyrics directed at the establishment and the English monarchy. Such was the outrage that it was banned by the BBC for ‘being of such gross bad taste.’

‘God save the Queen. The fascist regime.
It made you a moron. Potential H-bomb.
God save the Queen.
She ain’t no human-being.

There is no future in England dreaming.’

Master of War (Bob Dylan : 1963) – Becoming incensed at how the USA was becoming involved in international wars, only for self-serving purposes, Dylan takes aim at the world’s power brokers who manufacture war for profit and gains.


Fortunate Son (Creedence Clearwater Revival : 1969) – Directly pointing a finger at the privilege that some people have when it comes to the military draft. A song about rich men creating wars, and then the poor men having to fight in them. Richard Nixon was the USA president at the time, and this band strongly felt that those around Nixon were getting preferential treatment to avoid military service.

Some folks are born made to wave the flag.
Ohh, they’re red, white and blue
But when the band plays “Hail to the chief”
They point the cannon at you!

Inaction :

Blowing in the Wind (Bob Dylan : 1962) – Observing how the world is, with all its hunger, war, disease and the constant striving for freedom. Observing that some people conveniently (or otherwise) don’t notice, and how others (ie, white doves) are trying to make a difference. He notes how easy it could be to remove these problems (The answer is blowing in the wind) but how some people just choose inaction. (the answer is blowing in the wind).  How many roads? / How many seas? / How many years? – Before we finally make change!

Imagine (John Lennon : 1971) – These lyrics encourage the listener to imagine a world of peace, without materialism, borders separating countries, no religion and no politics. Simply getting people to imagine if all the things that divide us didn’t exist.

Imagine there’s no countriesIt isn’t hard to doNothing to kill or die forAnd no religion, too
Imagine all the peopleLivin’ life in peace
You may say I’m a dreamerBut I’m not the only oneI hope someday you’ll join usAnd the world will be as one

Oppression / Racism :

Get Up. Stand Up  (Bob Marley & The Wailers : 1973) – After witnessing extreme poverty whilst on a trip to Haiti, Bob Marley was inspired to write this call-to-action song against oppression and to continue the stubble to better one’s situation rather than accepting your fate in this life with some rose-coloured afterlife promise.

Fight the Power (Public Enemy : 1989) These lyrics are trying to encourage their young audience to rebel against economic inequality and racial discrimination.

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