Where would the world be without the rise, silence, and re-rise, and re-silence of punk rock? I don’t know but I can guarantee it wouldn’t be nearly as effin cool as it is now. Punk has had a deep place in my heart since my more tumultuous high school years, and beyond. When my mental illness was kicking my ass? Punk rock helped me through. When I was cleaning up my act and figuring out what to do next with my life? Punk was there for me. When I was diagnosed with cancer, and afterwards getting my life back, punk rock lifted me up.
Punk is one of those genres that never really goes away. It’s always there, whether at the forefront of music or not. And a lot of great bands today would not be around if it weren’t for the earlier punk pioneers like Minor Threat, The Buzzcocks, Dead Kennedys, and more. The world owes a lot to punk rock. A major part of punk is rooted in addressing problems with society, politics, class warfare, and the state of the world in general. There are few situations related to those subjects that you can’t find a punk rock song for.
Looking at the state of the world we live in now, it’s not hard to see that punk rock still has a place. And a lot of songs from the past still ring true today. For my next list post, today I am bringing you the top six punk rock songs that are still relevant today.
Franco Un-american – NOFX
A classic from NOFX from 2003 that gives us a great description of the way people tend to have a sudo care for different things in the world. And how the problems of the world are nothing more than disturbances that we don’t care about. My favorite line from this song:
I want to move north and be a Canadian. Or hang down low with the nice Australians. I don’t want to be another “I-don’t-care”-ican. What are we gonna do Franco, Franco Un-American.
911 for Peace – Anti-Flag
Anti-Flag has way too many songs for me to be able to list on this post. I could write 10,000 words on them. 911 for peace came to us in 2002 as a response to the 9/11 attacks the prior September. But the lyrics are raw and powerful. Lines like “We are all human. It’s time to prove it.” It was a message to the world that enough is enough. Things have to change. Unfortunately, 15 years later, I’m afraid things are much worse. My favorite lyrics from this song:
This is a plea for peace (world peace). To the oppressors of the world and to the leaders of nations, corporate profit takers,
to the everyday citizen. Greed, envy, fear, hate– the competition has to stop. When you see someone down, now’s the time to pick them up. Set our differences aside and never look back, no
You are the Government – Bad Religion
In true punk rock style, Bad Religion delivers this great anthem in only a minute and a half. “You are the Government” was released in 1988, in the earlier days of the band’s success. Though this particular tune is not a direct anti-establishment song as one would think. This brief yet powerful song more deals with the concept that the people wield the power and with that power and voice, the government will not be able to ignore their cries. Best line in this quick ballad:
And as the people bend the moral fabric dies. Then the country can’t pretend to ignore its people’s cries.
Rise Above – Black Flag
Henry balls to the wall Rollins. Pioneer of punk and hardcore… General badass as well. Him along with his friends of Black Flag are some of the most notable voices in early punk rock. They had a number of power hits that put their names on the tongue of everyone with a mohawk in the 90’s. Rise Above is perhaps one of the most popular of their hard hitting ballads. In typical blaring fashion, Black Flag delivers line after line in this memorable song. The top line from this power anthem:
Laugh at us behind our backs. I find satisfaction in what they lack. We are tired of your abuse. Try to stop us. It’s no use.
If the Kids are United – Sham 69
Let’s go way back to 1987 with Sham 69. Th originators of one of the greatest (in my opinion) punk anthems of all time. This song would go on to be covered by punk greats like Rancid, where it appeared on the “Give Em The Boot” compilation in 1999. But this, this is the original, and a great throwback to the roots of punk rock. True back in the 80’s and true now:
They can lie to my face, but not to my heart. If we all stand together it will just be the start.
God Save The USA – Pennywise
This song of course contains a strong language warning. For those who love the outrageous use of the F bomb, this song is for you. Pennywise is another staple of the punk rock community, widely known for fast paced melodic punk, and great punk covers of old songs. But this is an upright obituary for the United States written back in 2003 during the Bush presidency, and now we can see this same need for rage and sadness for our country. Last verse says it all:
Government hypocrisy – American Idolatry – Corporate philosophy. Nightly news of tragedies – Where no one cares what’s right or wrong Our heroes now are all long gone – The freedoms that we all abuse. The obituaries front page news.
And there you have it. My pick for the top 6 punk rock songs still relevant today. What would you add to this list? Is there one that shouldn’t be one here? Spill your piece in the comments below.