“Fighting for freedom and justice is never bad” – Work songs: From battle hymns to protest songs

“I constantly ask myself: Where are the great protest songs of today? Are people deaf and blind?” Buffy Sainte-Marie, January 2018

Buffy Sainte-Marie was a great singer of political songs in the 1960s and wrote for instance the peace movement anthem ‘Universal Soldier’. Today, her songs are just as relevant as ever, which is why this daughter of Canadian Native Americans has now compiled a selection of them on her new album. In a recent interview, she stated that she wished protest songs would come back into fashion, and she’s certainly not the only one, for we too have long considered the idea of devoting a section of the Rudolstadt Festival to this highly underrated genre.

In the beginning were traditional work songs, the forerunners of today’s political songs. True, a certain scepticism is warranted as they sometimes boil down to a mixture of pathos and antagonistic phrases accompanied by all sorts of kitsch and the imitation of bourgeois cheer. Nevertheless, work songs are also exciting historical documents. Without adopting a nostalgic view, the project spans the arc from the Industrial Revolution via the Weimar Republic and the 1968 protest culture to current developments.
By the way, to preserve the memory of these songs once the festival’s live programme is over, we’ve also compiled a CD which will be given away with the 2018 programme!