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Protest Song Of The Week: ‘Failed State’ By David Rovics

Prolific singer-songwriter David Rovics is one of the few working musicians, who regularly produce topical protest songs which directly address current events. His music is in the tradition of radical folk musicians like Phil Ochs.

From his latest album, “Ballad of a Wobbly,” released in December, Rovics breaks down what makes the United States a “Failed State.”

Each example of what makes America a “failed state” is potent. “When the laws must be broken just to have a place to stay,” or, “If you have to be a criminal to put food on your plate,” address the war constantly waged by the ruling class against poor and working Americans.

Another verse raises the specter of a climate change denier running the nation, with Republicans voting for oil drilling and more dirty energy pipelines. “When you’re facing climate breakdown, when the trees are all on fire,” one knows they’re living in a failed state.

When the nation is an “empire facing daily blowback and the only thing your leaders can think to do is attack,” Rovics sings, “you’re living in a failed state.” He goes on to note the exorbitant amount of money spent on the military and war every year.

Alluding to the Las Vegas massacre last year, Rovics pointedly declares, “When a music festival becomes a free fire zone, and all they can say is it’s okay now. He was acting alone. Buy some armor, pray to God, and hide behind a gate. You know you’re living in a failed state.”

Rovics’ deconstruction, all over a quite captivating guitar riff, confronts many of the systemic issues confronting Americans. They only get worse by the day, and Rovics righteously aims to agitate people into recognizing the reality around them so the uprising this country needs against such mass injustice can begin.

Listen to David Rovics’ song “Failed State.” And below is video of Rovics performing the song:

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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? Send submissions to protestmusic@Shadowproof.com

Secretary of Defense James N. Mattis. Photo by Secretary of Defense on Flickr.
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Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure."