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Protest Song; First use of the term?

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GeoffLawes 02 Jan 12 - 07:43 AM
Mark Ross 02 Jan 12 - 01:13 PM
Desert Dancer 02 Jan 12 - 03:17 PM
Desert Dancer 02 Jan 12 - 03:22 PM
Desert Dancer 02 Jan 12 - 03:50 PM
Desert Dancer 02 Jan 12 - 04:07 PM
Desert Dancer 02 Jan 12 - 04:20 PM
Desert Dancer 02 Jan 12 - 04:26 PM
Desert Dancer 02 Jan 12 - 04:34 PM
GeoffLawes 02 Jan 12 - 06:30 PM
Sandra in Sydney 02 Jan 12 - 08:06 PM
Desert Dancer 02 Jan 12 - 10:00 PM
Sandra in Sydney 03 Jan 12 - 04:40 AM
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Subject: Protest Song; First use of the term?
From: GeoffLawes
Date: 02 Jan 12 - 07:43 AM

Can anyone give me a reference for the first use of the terms protest song and protest singer? As Wikipedia confirms, this genre has a long history but my own recollection is that the terms protest song and protest singer first gained currency in the 1960's.

Also,I think I remember reading that somewhere on the web there is a project for discovering when words and phrases were introduced and became popular in English. Is it a Google facility? Does anyone know if it is accessible ?

And a happy new year to you all.


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Subject: RE: Protest Song; First use of the term?
From: Mark Ross
Date: 02 Jan 12 - 01:13 PM

Probably the first use of the term was John Greenway. In 1953 he published AMERICAN FOLKSONGS OF PROTEST.

Here it is online;

AMERICAN FOLKSONGS OF PROTEST


Mark Ross


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Subject: RE: Protest Song; First use of the term?
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 02 Jan 12 - 03:17 PM

Google ngram for protest+song and protest+singer.

This doesn't get to your origins question, but it's interesting recent data from Google Trends, on protest+song in Google searches and news items (since 2004).

~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: RE: Protest Song; First use of the term?
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 02 Jan 12 - 03:22 PM

Here is the ngram with no smoothing: there was something in 1899, but I'm having trouble figuring out what it was.

~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: RE: Protest Song; First use of the term?
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 02 Jan 12 - 03:50 PM

Hmm...

Here are the search results for "protest song" in 1899... none are of the two words together. click

Here are the search results for "protest song" 1950 to 1955.

Predating Greenway, there is "Folksongs on Records" edited by Ben Gray Lumpkin, issue 3 of 1950, in which someone calls "Strange Fruit" a "protest song against lynching" but says "I do not believe it is a folksong." (This appears to be referring to the 1949 album, "Josh White: Ballads & Blues, Vol. 1", Decca DL 5082.)

Other than that, it looks like it's 1953 with Greeway's publication and discussions related to it that it really kicks off in print.

~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: RE: Protest Song; First use of the term?
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 02 Jan 12 - 04:07 PM

By the way, although it looks from the graph as if there is no result for "protest singer" before 1965, there is one from 1963: in "Australian Literary Studies" Vol. 1, No. 1, someone refers to "the aboriginal protest singer, Jeremy Beckett".

(There is a spurious result that comes up for 1960, but it's in a compilation and actually refers to Tracy Chapman in 1989!)

~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: RE: Protest Song; First use of the term?
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 02 Jan 12 - 04:20 PM

In 1964, Leon Bibb (I'm pretty sure) is quoted by Newsweek and Sing Out! magazines as saying, "I suppose in America I'm a protest singer just by my presence on stage. But not when I'm abroad. But I don't want to one of those Negroes who abstract their art from the struggle. I want to be counted in."

Also in 1964 in The Realist, an underground humor magazine, Paul Krassner wrote "After leaving school I knew I had to do something that would pay a lot of money and not require much work, so I became a protest singer."

In 1965, Life and Billboard magazines both used the term, and it takes off.

~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: RE: Protest Song; First use of the term?
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 02 Jan 12 - 04:26 PM

(Leon Bibb had been blacklisted, and he appeared on the TV show Hootenanny in January 1964.)


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Subject: RE: Protest Song; First use of the term?
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 02 Jan 12 - 04:34 PM

The Australian Literary Magazine citation may actually be from Vol. 2, Issue 3, in 1966.

"... was rarely anything on this continent to protest about. Not even the aborigines can mount a convincing protest. Yes, I know about the aboriginal protest singer, Jeremy Beckett, who suffers for his people 'the scorn of the whites'."

The ngram graph for "protest singer" is definitely weird, because it doesn't show the results that do exist prior to 1967.

~ B in T


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Subject: RE: Protest Song; First use of the term?
From: GeoffLawes
Date: 02 Jan 12 - 06:30 PM

Thank you Mark and Becky that was very helpful. I now have information about the words and have also aquired some new research tools. Result!

Geoff


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Subject: RE: Protest Song; First use of the term?
From: Sandra in Sydney
Date: 02 Jan 12 - 08:06 PM

I've been looking on Google Australia & I found Professor Jeremy Beckett, an anthropologist who studied Aboriginal people. But there is no mention he is/was a singer or an Indigenous man.

I've found a mention of Prof Beckett's recording of Aboriginal stockman/singer/songwriter Dougie Young published by Wattle Records in 1963 which might be referred to in the 1966 ALM.

Obit to record and film producer Peter Hamilton Wattle's last release was also based on field recordings ... Jeremy Beckett's recordings of Aboriginal stockman/singer/songwriter Dougie Young on a 1963 EP titled 'The Land Where the Crow Flies Backwards'


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Subject: RE: Protest Song; First use of the term?
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 02 Jan 12 - 10:00 PM

That's interesting, Sandra. I have to say that that fragment of a quote from the Australian Literary Studies is pretty provocative. Unfortunately, even through my university I can't find an electronic version of the full text to put it in context. They only go back to 1990.

~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: RE: Protest Song; First use of the term?
From: Sandra in Sydney
Date: 03 Jan 12 - 04:40 AM

Sydney university has been getting the journal since 1963, I'll ask a friend who works there to see if she can look at that issue.

sandra


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