Sunday, 18 April 2010

Sunday Morning Coffee with 60’s Protest Songs

This may seem a strange subject for the show but, given that in the UK we have a General Election and the war in Afghanistan is not on the agenda, we should be protesting now!

Also I play music I like and which means something to me.  Today’s music meets both criteria.  I make no comment about the effectiveness of the songs but their longevity is unquestioned.

UPDATE: 14.15 21 April 2010  I have now added the 9 videos into a Youtube playlist.  You can find the playlist for today’s show here.  Soon I’ll put all shows onto their own playlist and eventually I’ll understand tags so that you can search for playlists.  Once I’ve got tags working, keywords will include: CalumCarr, Sunday Morning Coffee.

The 1960’s took me from being 10 to 20, a particularly impressionable age-range.  Perhaps that is why this age of protest means more to me than any other.

We start with a song from the father of protest songs – Pete Seeger – but don’t forget your coffee.

If I Had a Hammer

In this clip Pete is 74 and singing at an annual concert – in 1993 -  with Arlo Guthrie and the families of each.  I think Pete also appeared in his 90th year.

His voice has gone now but his song lives on!

It’s worth copying the last verse:

“Well I've got a hammer
And I've got a bell
And I've got a song to sing
All over this land
It's the hammer of justice
It's the bell of freedom
It's the song about love between my brothers and my sisters
All over this land”

The words are as important today as they were over forty years ago.


We move on with a song written by Buffy St Marie but made famous by Donovan in 1965.

Universal Soldier


Simon and Garfunkel recorded so many brilliant songs but one of my (many) favourites is this.

Silent Night / 7o’Clock News

What a powerful effect is created by the mixing of the Carol and the violence in the news.

I have listened to this countless times over the years: I am moved by it on each hearing.


I couldn’t possibly keep Dylan out of the show and here he sings with Joan Baez.

Blowin’ in the Wind

Why today can we not pay heed to these words?

“Yes, how many times must a man look up
Before he can see the sky ?
Yes, how many ears must one man have
Before he can hear people cry ?
Yes, how many deaths will it take till he knows
That too many people have died ?
The answer my friend is blowin' in the wind
The answer is blowin' in the wind.”


This next song is one of the most powerful anti-war songs but I must warn you that the video contains some images of death which you may not want to watch.  Despite these images or rather because of them I selected this particular video. This is sheer obscene horror.

Eve of Destruction

The roughness and rawness in Barry McGuire’s voice is perfect for this song.

If you watched the video I hope you were OK with it.


A trio which it would have been impossible to exclude is Peter, Paul and Mary.  Sadly Mary (Travers) died last year but their music survives her.  Today the trio sing two songs at a 1971 peace march in Washington.

Blowin’ in the Wind / Give Peace A Chance

P, P and M are joined by John Denver for the second song.

I’m sure there are better recordings of this but I wanted to give one at a major rally.  Mary’s voice sails out to everyone!

The pernickety among you may say that “Give Peace a Chance” was a 70’s protest song but it was recorded in 1969.


UPDATE: @ 10.30 18 April

Apologies.  There are now 9 tracks in this show.  Somehow, in error, I put in 2 versions of “Blowin’ in the Wind” and missed out “Where Have All the Flowers Gone”.  Rather than removing  one version I’ve just added the extra track.

Where Have All the Flowers Gone

An old Pete Seeger again with one of his great songs.  No compilation could have been complete without this.

I can rest easy now that I’ve corrected my mistake.


We return to the original show now and the second last track is one of the most widely used of all protest songs and we have Joan Baez for the second time.

We Shall Overcome

Wherever there is struggle this song will be a companion.


Rather than saying my goodbyes at the very end I say them here because I want nothing to distract or detract from the last video.

Well, that’s it for another week.  I hope you enjoyed your coffee and the music.   Tune in again next week and thanks for listening.


Here we are at the last track which is 17 minutes long and so you might want to get another coffee.  I had only listened to snippets before but like most I had heard so much about the man and his speech. 

This is the only possible way to finish the show: Martin Luther King’s  1963 “I Have a Dream” speech.

If you haven’t listened to all of this before, please take the time and hear the greatness of the man and his message. 



  1. That's going right back to those days. Britain largely missed the Vietnam War but America/Australia were in there and this clip [if you can stand the Australian accent] sums it up:

    IMHO, there is every justification for defending your family and nation and I'd be the first to sign up. But to go over to someone else's country because Gordo tells me it's my patriotic duty [himself being as patriotic as a quisling] is one I just don't buy.

    The clips you've included are excellent, Calum and McGuire's voice is most certainly the seminal one for that song.

  2. James Thanks for your comments.

    Your link was excellent.

  3. Seeger wasn't exactly all peace and love and tolerance when Dylan played the Newport Folk Festival in 1965.
    He went beserk looking for an axe to chop through the electric cables powering Dylan's new electric sound.
    Al Kooper (Dylan's organist in the band) is very funny telling the story of it.
    McGuire to this day reckons 'that' song ruined his career.

  4. JD Re McGuire - the song may have ruined his career: I hadn't heard that before but what a song to have as one's career.

    Re Seeger & Dylan - show me a saint and I'll show you a sinner.

    Thanks for link at James'

  5. McGuire made the comment on a TV programme last year. Can't remember the context but it was a recent interview.
    He started out in the New Christy Minstrels alongside Gene Clark and where McGuire began a solo career, Clark joined the Byrds.
    Strange how life unfolds isn't it; Barry McGuire alive and grumbling and Clark drank himself to death leaving behind a fantastic legacy.

    Here's Clark, clearly worse for wear, belting out Chimes Of Freedom

    Protest songs are not exclusive to the sixties, they are now more subtle and much better as in-

    and also this which never fails to break my heart-

  6. JD Thanks for your links and info - brilliant!!!!! As always!!!!

    This post would be much easier and probably better if I had your knowledge.

    I recall reading that McGuire had been in the NCM.

    As for later protest songs being more subtle and much better I'm tempted to agree with you in terms of the absolute quality of the songs but I'm not sure that they are more effective as protest songs.

    Mind you we could then get into a discussion about how effective, if at all, protest songs have been.

  7. What can I say...I wasn't at Woodstock. But, on the last night, Joan Baez offered her now-legendary song. The next day, it invaded the airwaves (at least in America). It revolutionised and liberated many lives. Including mine. I totally changed the direction I had taken. It was incredibly tough. At one point, I wasn't sure I would make it. But finally I survived...

    I don't know if protest songs affect the world in general. But it does affect people, one by one.

    I slept in this morning. It's afternoon here. I'm having my mug of coffee, and I'm listening to the 60s, with memories (good and bad) crowding in. Thanks, Calum.

  8. Claudia Many, many thanks for your memories. I'm delighted that you enjoy the series.