As a kid, my parents regularly packed me and my sisters into our navy blue minivan and carted us to music festivals and outdoor concerts. We’d pack a picnic and spin in the grass in our bare feet and eat plums slick with condensation out of Igloo coolers. We’d doze on quilts that went soggy once the sun went down. We’d sing songs together with hundreds of strangers and go home sleepy, often far past our bedtimes.
Many of the first songs that my sisters and I learned at those concerts were protest songs and spirituals. They were songs meant to be sung with rousing choruses of voices. They were songs that if you didn’t know when someone started singing them, you knew by the time they were finished; songs meant to get heartstrings thrumming.
James and I took Faye to a candlelight vigil in Brooklyn this weekend and the moment when the crowd around us sang along to a rendition of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah, was the moment when my heart rose to my throat. Of course it was.
I’m not sure we have all the right songs for this particular moment yet. But I thought it might be nice to share a few of traditional albums that have songs still worth singing. All of the songs on these albums aren’t protest songs, but a lot of them still make a nice starting place for getting little guys to sing with gusto and embrace a tradition of resistance and strength through song—something that’s a part of this country’s culture we can be proud of.
Yesterday morning I was singing “This Land is Your Land” in the shower and Faye came into the bathroom. She pulled back the shower curtain and asked, as she always does, “What are you doing?” She knew of course, but she wanted to be a part of it. Here’s to giving kids the resources to feel included and to spread a message of justice and peace.
Do any of you have favorites to add? I’d love to hear them!