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The 10 Greatest Anti-Establishment Rock Songs

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.

Camps and Detainment

The 10 Greatest Anti-Establishment Rock Songs

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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.

[amazon text=The Beatles-Taxman&asin=B0025KVLTC]

Of all the songs on the [amazon text=Revolver album&asin=B0025KVLTC], 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

[amazon text=Black Sabbath-War Pigs&asin= B000002KHH]

Anti-war songs are a dime a dozen, especially for the time period when Black Sabbath’s [amazon text=Paranoid album &asin= B000002KHH] 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.

[amazon text=The Kinks-20th Century Man&asin=B00NF4PNXM]

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 [amazon text=Muswell Hillbillies&asin=B00NF4PNXM] 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.

[amazon text=Megadeth-Peace Sells&asin=B0002EXH54]

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 [amazon text=Peace Sells&asin=B0002EXH54] 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?

[amazon text=Rush-The Trees&asin=B000001ESL]

Like several of Rush’s hits, [amazon text=The Trees&asin=B000001ESL] 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

[amazon text=Pink Floyd-Pigs (Three Different Ones)&asin=B005NNVPOO]

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 [amazon text=Animals&asin=B005NNVPOO], 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

[amazon text=Dead Kennedys-California Über Alles&asin=B000A2H2QI]

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. [amazon text=California Über Alles&asin=B000A2H2QI] 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!

[amazon text=Judas Priest-Electric Eye&asin=B008BO61BE]

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 [amazon text=Electric Eye&asin=B008BO61BE].

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

[amazon text=Living Color-Cult of Personality&asin=B00452J58W]

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 [amazon text=Cult of Personality&asin=B00452J58W] 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.

[amazon text=Muse-Uprising&asin=B002GZQYMK]

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, [amazon text=Uprising&asin=B002GZQYMK] 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 .

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 .


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