When pop music meets politics, the results are often thrilling, sometimes life-changing, and never simple. The protest songs of such great artists as Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, Stevie Wonder, U2, Public Enemy, Fela Kuti, R.E.M., Rage Against the Machine, and the Clash represent pop music at its most charged and relevant, providing the soundtrack and informing social change since the 1930s. They capture the attention and passions of listeners, force their way into the news, and make their presence felt from the streets to the corridors of power.
33 Revolutions Per Minute is a history of protest music embodied in 33 songs that span seven decades and four continents, from Billie Holiday crooning "Strange Fruit" before a shocked audience to Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young paying tribute to the Vietnam protesters killed at Kent State in "Ohio," to Green Day railing against President Bush and twenty-first-century media in "American Idiot." With the aid of exclusive new interviews, Dorian Lynskey explores the individuals, ideas, and events behind each song. This expansive survey examines how music has engaged with racial unrest, nuclear paranoia, apartheid, war, poverty, and oppression, offering hope, stirring anger, inciting action, and producing songs that continue to resonate years down the line, sometimes at great cost to the musicians involved.