Protest Song of the Week: ‘Song for Shaker Aamer’ by The Four Fathers
The last British prisoner in the infamous U.S. military prison, Guantanamo Bay, was finally released on October 30.
Shaker Aamer was flown to the United Kingdom and rejoined his family, which he had been separated from since he was captured by U.S. forces around fourteen years ago. Upon arrival, he met his youngest son, Faris, who was born on the day he arrived at Guantanamo, and hugged him for the first time.
A campaign for his release, spearheaded by We Stand With Shaker, was ongoing for multiple years. Musicians like Roger Waters, Peter Gabriel, P.J. Harvey, David Knopfler, Sting, Sophie Ellis-Baxter, and Charlie Winston each lent their names to the push for his freedom.
Waters created a video in 2014, which called attention to Aamer’s case. He explained how Aamer had written the lyrics to one of his songs, “Hey You,” which he wrote for Pink Floyd, in a letter one of his attorneys shared with him. This resonated and compelled Waters to take a greater interest in speaking out for Aamer.
Harvey released a gritty and haunting protest song called “Shaker Aamer” in 2013. The verses are like excerpts from letters Aamer wrote from prison, detailing some of the abuse and callousness he endured.
Lesser known and highlighted here now is a song written by Andy Worthington for his band, The Four Fathers, called “Song for Shaker Aamer.” It is performed in the style of roots reggae.
The chorus celebrates Aamer, declaring, “They chain your body but they cannot chain your mind/You tell truth to power/Even though you are behind the wire.”
It tells the story of Aamer’s capture, how he went to Afghanistan to do charity work and wound up being sold to U.S. forces. It highlights his connection to London and what it meant to be separated from family so long.
The song was used as a campaign song by We Stand With Shaker Aamer (Worthington, a journalist who has covered Guantanamo extensively, is co-director), and what perhaps makes it so enduring is how it pays tribute to the man who dissented and resisted from within Guantanamo all throughout his detention. He led hunger strikes and spoke out for the human rights of prisoners.
In fact, the song opens with Aamer’s voice, which was recorded by a “60 Minutes” crew. He is heard crying, “Please we are tired. Either you leave us to die in peace or either you tell the world truth. Open up the place. Let the world come and visit.”
Aamer’s words punctuate the song, giving it more gravitas and affirming why he is one of the more inspirational men to have been detained at Guantanamo, and it is Shadowproof’s “Protest Song of the Week.”
Listen to the song on The Four Fathers’ Bandcamp page or here the song in a campaign video, which We Stand With Shaker produced. And buy and support the protest music of independent musicians like The Four Fathers if you can.
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