MANA BEHZAD GRAPHIC

pROTESTING WITH MUSIC

Music is powerful. 

It is a unifying force of rhythm and melody that brings people together from all walks of life and has been present in some form at all kinds of gatherings throughout human history. 

We hear music in bars, restaurants, funerals, birthdays and even in wars. Historically, music was used to increase morale among troops, and instill fear within the enemy. Booming bass drums combined with a harmony of beautiful, intense, clamouring voices to create songs  expressing frustration and anger toward a common enemy. This is true in cultures across continents, no matter how isolated the community. No culture is exempt from music and its power over people. 

The beauty of music also comes from its ability to express all emotions, not just rage and discontent. Protest songs in the 1970s against the Vietnam War were often inspired by love of our fellow humans and hate for organized chaos and war created by establishments and governments. 

Ironically, “Fortunate Son” by Creedence Clearwater Revival, a song written in protest to the war in Vietnam, could be heard playing above the canopies of Vietnamese jungles from helicopters and low flying planes, with the sole purpose of instilling fear in the enemy and providing a morale boost to the allied troops fighting below. The song was also played at protests held by the flower children of the 1970s and other anti-establishment groups, unifying people under the disdain of a common enemy. 

“Fortunate Son” lives on in protests even to this day一I played that same song at our protest against housing inequality outside Waterloo City Hall. It is a song equally about wealth inequality, nepotism and violence. Our housing crisis is a direct result of nepotism and free markets left unchecked and is increasingly violent to those who aren’t so fortunate. 

The act of removing somebody from their home outside of their own terms is violent and life changing. Which adds to the importance of playing the right music at the right time during the recent housing protests. 

As a DJ in a protest setting, there is a responsibility to fill the role of the historical drummer boy, a need to draw people together and send the appropriate message with the music being played. I handpicked songs with political undertones, and expressions of love, anger and discontent in regards to our housing crisis, which affects thousands of families across Waterloo Region and even the country. Everybody has a different opinion on what will solve this problem and I and the organizers had the ultimate goal of fostering healthy conversations with our politicians and neighbours. I wanted to create an environment with music that allows for these discussions and exchanges of ideas to occur. That’s when the real magic and positive changes will happen.