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Protest Song of the Day: ‘Terrormaker’ by Nicholson Baker

Novelist and critic Nicholson Baker has been writing protest songs. Baker sent a recent song he wrote and published to YouTube on November 1 called “Terrormaker.”

The song is an anti-drone song. Its title directly refers to drone operators. It opens with the words, “Terrormaker/Reaper man/Armchair aviator/Over Pakistan.”

Told from the perspective of a disgruntled young man, Baker at one point sings, “I fit the profile/I’m twenty-three/Can’t you see
You’re just like me.” Later, the young man addressing the drone pilot says, “It’s kill not capture/Robot rapture/Can’t you see/You’re recruiting me.”

“Can’t you see,” he asks the drone operator. “You’re murdering me.” He repeats the question to a young man, likely his age, who has become an “a malefactor, a coward killer,” and a “terrormaker.”

Baker told Slate he writes protest songs because it feels “less like carping than an essay.” Also, he finds he can be “truer to the grief” he feels.

In October, Baker produced four other protest songs. As Baker wrote in a post for The New Yorker:

…The nice thing about a protest song is that it takes the complaint, the fussing, the finger-pointing, and gives it an added component of sociable harmony. Yes, X is bad, and the basic fact of my objection to X is discordant, but music, even music performed by someone like me—an amateur who can barely sing in tune some afternoons—is (with some crucial help from pitch-correction software) healing and good. Yes, I am unhappy about X, but I can pin the sodden laundry of my dissent on the clothesline of timeless chordal tunefulness, where it will dry and add a bit of color to the landscape…


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.

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Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola

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