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Protest Song Of Week: ‘Last Lion Of Albion’ By Neko Case

Editor’s Note

For more protest music from C.J. Baker, go to Ongoing History Of Protest Songs.

Albion is the oldest name for Great Britain, and twelve to fourteen thousand years ago, the large lions that resided there became extinct. One common theory is that the extinction was caused by hunting and technological advancements. The other common theory was that it was the result of climate change.

On “Last Lion of Albion,” a poignant tune on her 2018 album “Hell-On,” acclaimed singer-songwriter Neko Case uses this extinction as a backdrop to examine the adverse affects of colonialism

Case made the following statement in an interview with Spin Magazine: “It’s just one of those things that when you’re somewhere and you’re looking at a flag, you’re thinking, How did that image get on that flag? There’s a lot of lions associated with England, and yet lions are completely extinct in England. It makes you feel sad inside, and then you realize how every culture everywhere has that, and I was just kind of meditating on that thought.”

The song makes references to “the last cedars of Lebanon,” which are on the verge of extinction due to the deforestation, and the thylacine, an extinct marsupial native to Tasmania—often called the Tasmanian tiger.

It also mentions the Mohicans, a Native American tribe which lost their language, along with much of their land and culture. (Of course, what happened to the Mohicans happened to numerous indigenous groups throughout the globe.)

Case pinpoints the main culprit with the lyric, “You’ll feel extinction / When you see your face on their money.”

It is greed that causes governments and corporations to exploit the earth’s natural resources for their own selfish gain. It is greed that cause humans to value profit over lives.

Lessons from history teach us that this greedy exploitation always results in extinction. Thankfully there are several voices speaking loudly against the various types of exploitation, and hopefully these voices are heeded before it is too late.

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CJ Baker

CJ Baker

CJ Baker is a lifelong music fan and published writer. He recently started a website chronicling the historical developments of protest music: ongoinghistoryofprotestsongs.com, and can be found on Twitter @tunesofprotest