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Protest Song of the Week: ‘Merciful God’ by Tom Robinson

British singer-songwriter Tom Robinson released his new album, “Only the Now,” this month, and the album is a collection of collaborations with numerous artists and includes a few protest songs.

Robinson is well-known for the anthem he wrote for the London gay pride parade in 1976 called “Glad to Be Gay.” Inspired by the style of the Sex Pistols, Robinson formed the Tom Robinson Band to record this song, which dealt with everything from British police raids on gay pubs to how LGBT people were depicted in British media to homophobia and violence against LGBT people.

The singer-songwriter has also been a prominent supporter of Amnesty International and was a leader of “Rock Against Racism” in 1978. The campaign was a response by artists to growing nationalism against immigrants. It was partly inspired by remarks by musician Eric Clapton, who agreed there were too many “foreigners” in Britain.

For his latest album, Robinson wrote a protest song inspired by a CNN interview with an American bomber pilot deployed in the Iraq War. The pilot told the media network how her faith gave her the resoluteness to kill people, even if it meant she could die.

“I know that I’ve been trained well to do my job, so I wasn’t scared. I have a strong faith in God … I pray before every mission, and I put it in his hands,” the Air Force captain said. She added, “I believe that God’s put me in this job.”

As Robinson recalled, “The idea that killing people was simply a job of work ordained by the almighty chilled my shit—and the interview brought home that it’s not unique to jihadists.”

Robinson came up with a song called “Merciful God” to call attention to the fact that Islamic extremists aren’t the only ones who believe in dying for their god.

The chorus goes like this:

God is merciful, god is just
Why mind dying if he says we must
I’m not frightened, I’m not fearful
I’m doing the job God put me here for

Robinson collaborated with Lee Forsyth Griffiths and T.V. Smith of the punk band, The Adverts, for the song, and like Robinson has described, there is a real “sonic mayhem” to the tune. It has manic drums and a chaotic guitar sound.

There’s a bloodlust to the song, especially as Robinson, Griffiths, and Smith sing about body parts hitting the fan being the only thing the enemy will understand. It really brings home the idea that faith can make people feel there is an increased level of righteousness to the death and destruction they are meting out.

The protest song’s mania is very different from the style of music Robinson and his band have been known to play. However, it represents a brilliant example of the experimentation incorporated into this album, and it is Shadowproof’s “Protest Song of the Week.”

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Are you an independent artist who has written and/or produced a protest song that you would like featured? Or do you have a favorite protest song? We have a few submissions we’ll be featuring in the coming weeks, and if you’d like to submit a song, send submissions to protestmusic@Shadowproof.com

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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."