The 10 Greatest Anti-Establishment Rock Songs

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Top Tier Gear USA

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When it comes to fighting the powers that be, there are many tools at your disposal. You can protest and you can share critical information with your friends and family. You can separate yourself from the system by growing your own food, saving your money outside of the banks, and learning natural ways to heal your body. You can even vote with your feet by moving to more freedom minded areas; or when all else fails, you can stand your ground and fight them with everything at your disposal.

But where does the motivation come from? What is it that sets the fire in our hearts, and drives us to fight what we perceive to be wrong?

While the reasons may differ from person to person, I would argue that the greatest wellspring of resistance to tyranny, often comes from art. The books we read, the movies we watch, and music we listen to, all play a major role in how we view ourselves and the world around us. They are the captains of our culture. They prop up the iconic heroes we look up to, and if they’re truly authentic, they shine a light on the injustices of our society.

As for art that speaks to our freedom loving hearts, few things in life are as inspiring as a rousing rock song. It’s important to point out and praise these artists, who see our authority figures for what they are, and aren’t afraid to tell the world what they think. So here’s a few of the greatest rock songs to ever stick it to man. This is not by any means an all-inclusive list, so feel free to share your favorite anti-establishment songs in the comments.

The Beatles-Taxman

Of all the songs on the Revolver album, it could be argued that Taxman will remain the most relevant as time goes on. Just about everybody who has ever lived throughout history has had to deal with the taxman in one form or another, and they will likely continue to do so until the sun blows up. What they may not have to deal with, are the outrageous fees that the Beatles had to pay in their heyday.

Lines like “there’s one for you, nineteen for me” were not an exaggeration. Under Britain’s draconian tax laws, the band had to pay a 95% tax on their royalties. And that’s how one of the greatest tax protest songs was born.

Best Line:

If you drive a car, I’ll tax the street
If you try to sit, I’ll tax your seat
If you get too cold I’ll tax the heat
If you take a walk, I’ll tax your feet

Black Sabbath-War Pigs

Anti-war songs are a dime a dozen, especially for the time period when Black Sabbath’s Paranoid album came out. But few songs can match the energy and creepiness of War Pigs. This song calls out the purveyors of our nation’s war machine, and gives them the description they truly deserve. In War Pigs, they are compared to a coven of witches gathering to plot the destruction of mankind. While they may dress up in suits and uniforms, they are really nothing less than pure evil. And in the end, they are punished for their crimes against humanity.

Best Line:

No more war pigs have the power
Hand of God has struck the hour
Day of judgment, God is calling
On their knees the war pig’s crawling
Begging mercy for their sins
Satan laughing spreads his wings
Oh lord yeah!

Here’s the song, appropriately played in the background of footage that documents our government’s atomic bomb testing on US soldiers.

The Kinks-20th Century Man

While The Kinks are mainly remembered for little ditties like “You Really Got Me” and “All Day and All of the Night” modern audiences should give them credit for some of their more rebellious songs. In my book, 20th Century Man from their album Muswell Hillbillies takes the cake, for being a condemnation of the technological horrors that were wrought in the 20th Century, as well as its criticism of the welfare state and police brutality.

Best Line:

I was born in a welfare state
Ruled by bureaucracy
Controlled by civil servants
And people dressed in grey
Got no privacy, got no liberty
Cos the twentieth century people
Took it all away from me.

Megadeth-Peace Sells

Peace Sells is a scathing review of the inequities of our society, as well as the elites who would like to keep it that way. The song eventually crescendos into a raucous condemnation of our nation’s addiction to war. Megadeth has never been afraid to say what they think of the powers that be, and Peace Sells was arguably their first anti-establishment song to leave its mark on pop culture.

Best Line:

What do you mean, “I hurt your feelings”?
I didn’t know you had any feelings.
What do you mean, “I ain’t kind”?
I’m just not your kind.
What do you mean, “I couldn’t be the president of the United States of America”?
Tell me something, it’s still “We the people”, right?

Rush-The Trees

Like several of Rush’s hits, The Trees appears to be inspired by Neil Peart’s obsession with Ayn Rand at the time it was written. He has since gone on to describe himself as a “bleeding heart libertarian” rather than one of Rand’s adherents, and his criticism of forced equality in this song still rings true today.

The song depicts society’s obsession with making everyone equal, with an allegorical story about trees in the forest. Pretty strange right? Nonetheless, it does a pretty good job of condemning the progressives in our midst, who are depicted as maple trees. They’re just so sick of those damn oak trees hogging all the sunlight. Unfortunately, they eventually find a solution many of us will recognize.

Best Line:

So the maples formed a union
And demanded equal rights
‘The oaks are just too greedy
We will make them give us light’
Now there’s no more oak oppression
For they passed a noble law
And the trees are all kept equal
By hatchet, axe and saw

Pink Floyd-Pigs (Three Different Ones)

This list would not be complete without at least one Pink Floyd song. While many would be quick to point to The Wall as Pink Floyd’s greatest anti-establishment album, I decided to go with something that doesn’t get as much air time as it should.

Pigs is one of the first songs on their concept album Animals, which itself is basically a musical take on George Orwell’s Animal Farm. It’s a damning, spiteful critique of the elites in our society, and is divided into three parts, one for each kind of elitist that exists (although, whoever Roger Waters is referring to, is left open to interpretation).

Best Line:

Hey you White House, ha ha, charade you are
You house proud town mouse, ha ha, charade you are
You’re trying to keep our feelings off the street
You’re nearly a real treat
All tight lips and cold feet

Dead Kennedys-California Über Alles

In the 1960’s and 1970’s, liberalism as we know it today was first making headway in our nation. At the time, it was inconceivable for many people, that such an ideology could result in tyranny. It wasn’t communist, and it certainly wasn’t fascist right? Surely those hippies didn’t mean us any harm?

But the Dead Kennedys saw them for what they were, and what they were capable of. California Über Alles depicts California as a hippie fascist state ruled by Governor Jerry Brown, where your kids are forced to meditate in school and concentration camps kill the masses with organic poison gas. You can’t get anymore ridiculous and satirical than that.

Best Line:

Zen fascists will control you
100% natural
You will jog for the master race
And always wear the happy face

Close your eyes, can’t happen here
Big Bro’ on white horse is near
The hippies won’t come back you say
Mellow out or you will pay
Mellow out or you will pay!

Judas Priest-Electric Eye

Modern audiences will immediately recognize the prescience of this 1984 inspired song. It describes an omniscient satellite of some kind, that indiscriminately spies on our every move. I can’t think of a more appropriate metaphor for our surveillance state, than Electric Eye.

Best Line:

Electric eye, in the sky
Feel my stare, always there
There’s nothing you can do about it
Develop and expose
I feed upon your every thought
And so my power grows

Living Color-Cult of Personality

The 80’s were famous for cranking out sanitized pop songs devoid of meaning, but that doesn’t mean the decade lacked mainstream songs with a message. Living Color’s Cult of Personality makes up for it with a unique song that doesn’t pander to any particular ideology. It attacks the plastic figureheads of every movement that rely on a cult of personality to influence society, and it doesn’t spare any of the usual sacred cows. There’s plenty of anti-establishment songs that don’t quite hit the mark because they decided to take a side, rather than calling out everyone who deserves it. But Cult of Personality tells us to ignore all the flashy faces on TV, and free ourselves.

Best Line:

Neon lights, a Nobel Prize
When a leader speaks, that leader dies
You won’t have to follow me
Only you can set you free

Brace yourself for gaudy clothes and epic guitar solos.

Muse-Uprising

It’s difficult to pick just one Muse song for this list. They’ve practically made a career out of criticizing the elites, and they’re one of the few anti-establishment bands that have actually made it to the mainstream. Still, if I had to pick one song, Uprising would have to be it, as well as the bizarre music video that accompanies it. The video is rife with symbolism and definitely requires more than one viewing to appreciate.

Best Line:

Paranoia is in bloom,
The PR transmissions will resume
They’ll try to push drugs that keep us all dumbed down
And hope that we will never see the truth around

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Contributed by Joshua Krause of The Daily Sheeple.

Joshua Krause is a reporter, writer and researcher at The Daily Sheeple. He was born and raised in the Bay Area and is a freelance writer and author. You can follow Joshua’s reports at Facebook or on his personal Twitter. Joshua’s website is Strange Danger .

Wake The Flock Up! Please Share With Sheeple Far & Wide:
  • Vows of Vengeance

    And almost every Rage Against The Machine album!

  • John Newager

    “Shape of Things to Come” – Slade (probably a cover but I am a Slade fan)

  • Phil

    What about Bob Dylan’s “It’s alright, Ma, I’m only bleeding”?

  • cheesemissile

    How about Buffalo Springfield’s For what it’s worth? “Stop, children, what’s that sound? Everybody look whats going down”

  • Seabass120

    The Trees….I’m so happy someone saw this.

  • mirageseekr

    So glad you put “War Pigs” on that list, personally I would have gone Pink Floyd’s “We don’t need no education”.

  • Pete752

    The Mothers of Invention: ‘We’re Only In It For The Money’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6-9FX7bhESs and Steppen Wolf’s: ‘Monster’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A-7uwshsfFI

  • Whoever complied this list must not have heard of Steppenwolf or Jackson Browne.

  • Then there was “The Ostrich” from the first album.

  • If you don’t create an account you could wait days like I used to, they are forcing you to create an account basically.

    • Djehuti

      hey did see that

  • rocquedog

    Louie, louie was the best ever and still is!

  • Chumbawamba – Farewell to the Crown

    • Goodbye to the royal we
      And all its famous pedigree
      Let’s put this dog to sleep
      Goodbye to the crown

      Read more: Chumbawamba – Farewell To The Crown Lyrics | MetroLyrics

  • Djehuti

    Won’t Get Fooled Again

    • FalconMoose

      Yep, good ones. Dead Kennedys?

  • Tony Hunt

    Boy, I have to call BS on this one, anyone heard of Steppenwolf “Monster”?

    • FalconMoose

      That was the song that came to mind when I read the article title! Well done fellow libertarian.

  • FalconMoose

    Good!

  • Deep Edgar
  • Vows of Vengeance

    Bullshit.

  • Vlad TheSkewerer

    Good list, you could add “Wont get fooled again”, “The Grand Illusion” and “Beautiful World”.

  • sillywabbit

    I’d have to throw in The Who – Won’t get fooled again. The music itself provokes feelings of rebellion

  • joseph aronesty

    I just wrote and produced a gospelly anti-Trump song. Spread the word. This is not about me. We are under attack from within. I worked close to Trump in the 1980’s in AC. I know how bad he is. https://soundcloud.com/aronesty/raise-our-voices-demo
    Get back: josepharonesty@gmail.com
    and notice how most of those anti-war songs are old … where are the new ones ? Let’s start a trend. We need to. Really.

  • Heather Rhetter

    Perfect Circle “Count Bodies Like Sheep To The Rhythm Of The War Drums”