A look at protest songs | EW.com

Music

A look at protest songs

A look at protest songs--Dylan's ''George Jackson,'' Lennon's ''John Sinclair'' and Rage's ''Voice of the Voiceless'' all called for prisoners' release

If Sean ”Puffy” Combs were to wind up in the slammer, perhaps girlfriend Jennifer Lopez could belt out a song for his release. Bob Dylan’s 1975 anthem about convicted murderer Rubin Carter — featured in the Denzel Washington-topped film The Hurricane — helped efforts to win the ex-boxer a retrial. Here’s how some other protest ditties fared.

BOB DYLAN’s ”George Jackson” (1970)
Prisoner: Jackson, a Black Panther leader
Sample Lyric: ”Authorities, they hated him/Because he was just too real”
Aftermath: Jackson died during an abortive prison escape the following year.

JOHN LENNON’s ”John Sinclair” (1971)
Prisoner: Sinclair, a counterculture radical jailed for possessing two joints
Sample Lyric: ”Let him free, lift the lid/Bring him to his wife and kids”
Aftermath: Sinclair was released three days after Lennon debuted the song.

RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE’s ”Voice of the Voiceless” (1999)
Prisoner: Mumia Abu-Jamal, a journalist convicted of killing a Philadelphia cop
Sample Lyric: ”So long as the rope/Is tight around Mumia’s neck/Let there be no rich white life”
Aftermath: Abu-Jamal is now in his 18th year on death row.