One of the biggest hits of The Clash is “Rock the Casbah.” The lyrics are an open protest against the oppression of regimes that seek to limit the rights of their own citizens.
“By order of the prophet
We ban that boogie sound
Degenerate the faithful
With that crazy Casbah sound”
The song was released in 1982 and was inspired by the prohibition of Western music during the Iranian Islamic Revolution in 1979. At one point of the song, the political leader calls the Air Force to drop bombs over the population, while he is at the mosque enjoying the Casbah sound. Nevertheless, the military force disobeys orders and joins the crowd, proving that Rock ‘n’ Roll has the power to overthrown any type of dictatorship.
In the context of violence and the modern oppression of the twenty first century, music is still needed to help people raise their voices against the tyranny of their governments. Just like Shareef, presidents and dictators feel threatened by a society who questions their decisions.
Music is banned from schools, states and countries, because it has the power to bring people together, to make them question their current situation, and ask for a change. Governments would rather blame the music that inspires revolution, instead of accepting their mistakes.
In Baghdad, the moral police stated that certain western music genres invited the youth to join satanic cults. The US government has even convicted three young students for forming part of a satanic cult because of their taste in music. The media blamed Marilyn Manson’s music for the tragedy of Columbine because his lyrics were thought to have influenced the students to kill their classmates.
The stereotypes surrounding the Rock ‘n’ Roll industry are hard to demystify, specially if the authority of a country continues to use it as scapegoat for all that is wrong in the world. Nevertheless, Rock continues to prove that still it is the best outlet to raise our fists and ask for justice and equality. The greatest legends of the industry give us songs to keep fighting, but they also share with us these insights to understand how the power of music had a positive influence in their lives.
“Music is an important part of our culture and record stores play a vital part in keeping the power of music alive”
— Chuck Berry
“Rock and roll is music, and why should music contribute to juvenile delinquency? If people are going to be juvenile delinquents, they’re going to be delinquents if they hear Mother Goose rhymes.”
— Elvis Presley
“We were disliked by the press in the early days because they couldn’t put their finger on us, and that was the case with Zeppelin as well.”
— Freddie Mercury
“You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us. And the world will live as one.”
— John Lennon
“I define nothing. Not beauty, not patriotism. I take each thing as it is, without prior rules about what it should be.”
— Bob Dylan
“Don’t compromise yourself. You are all you’ve got.”
— Janis Joplin
“When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace.”
— Jimmy Hendrix
“Anarchy is the only slight glimmer of hope.”
— Mick Jagger
“I suppose for me as an artist it wasn’t always just about expressing my work; I really wanted, more than anything else, to contribute in some way to the culture that I was living in. It just seemed like a challenge to move it a little bit towards the way I thought it might be interesting to go.”
— David Bowie
“The most important kind of freedom is to be what you really are. You trade in your reality for a role. You give up your ability to feel, and in exchange, put on a mask.”
— Jim Morrison
“I may not believe in myself, but I believe in what I’m doing.”
— Jimmy Page
“Authority is supposedly grounded in wisdom, but I could see from a very early age that authority was only a system of control and it didn’t have any inherent wisdom. I quickly realized that you either became a power or you were crushed”
— Joe Strummer
“Apparently people don’t like the truth, but I do like it; I like it because it upsets a lot of people.
— Lemmy Kilmister
“Nothing can duplicate the sheer power and feeling you get from standing in front of your amp and bashing on your guitar.”
“Undermine their pompous authority, reject their moral standards, make anarchy and disorder your trademarks. Cause as much chaos and disruption as possible but don’t let them take you ALIVE.”
— Sid Vicious
“Society has traditionally always tried to find scapegoats for its problems. Well here I am.”
— Marilyn Manson
“I’d rather be hated for who I am, than loved for who I am not.”
— Kurt Cobain
We rarely stop to think of how music inspired the lives of the rock stars we now admire. These quotes are just a glimpse of the way they see the world.