To recognize the power of protest music, acknowledge its role in creating a culture of dissent and how musicians translate social issues and systemic problems into song, The Dissenter has launched a daily feature that highlights a protest song every weekday. 

FDL’s Gregg Levine appropriately called attention to the threat Hurricane Sandy posed to nuclear power plants yesterday. Today, there are numerous reports of plants shutting down. The news is all is well, for the most part. There are no reports of radiation leaking at this point, but Levine notes that there were no safety reassurances issued by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) before the storm made landfall.

Given what happened with the earthquake that hit Fukushima last year and how radiation that leaked continues to cause impact, it seems the northeastern United States may just be lucky. Nuclear power critics could probably point to a lot of details about plants in states that were in the path way of Sandy to show where potential disasters could have happened. If climate change continues to steadily increase, storms like this will only become more regular and pose even greater threats to nuclear power plants.

The late great musician, Gil Scott-Heron, recorded a song called “Shut ‘Em Down.” It is a fairly well-known tune. The song appeared on his 1980 album titled 1980. The Three Mile Island disaster had recently occurred.

The message in the lyrics is clear: “Shut ‘em down/if that’s the only way to keep them from melting down.”

To a funky groove, he sings, “Got to work for Earth for what it’s worth/’Cause it’s the only Earth we’ve got”—Shut ’em down.

Scott-Heron would participate in a major concert put on by the Musicians for Safe Energy (MUSE) in 1980. It was organized in protest of nuclear power.


The Dissenter will be putting one of these up every weekday morning. If you have requests for songs that should be featured or if you have a protest song you recorded, which you would like to see featured, email

And all previous Protest Song of the Day selections can be found here.

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure."