Revolutionary Playlist Episode 15: Nathan O

By Nathan O

8 August 2021

The banner in Lafayette Park says it all: “There will be 2 wars.” Fugazi’s performance at a demonstration against the 1991 Gulf War captures the fury and intensity of musical protest – as well as the futility. Just 12 years later, there was a second war, and all the protests in Washington and around the world could not stop it. So is protest merely a carnival, with little power against the awful momentum of military planning or voter apathy?

Fugazi — a band that operated strictly on its own terms, with little regard for profit — pointed to a different path forward. The cassette insert to their album Repeater features a quote from José Ortega y Gasset  “Revolution is not the uprising against pre-existing order, but the setting up of a new order contradictory to the traditional one.” As the story goes, the designer inserted that without the band’s knowledge. Yet it distills the do-it-yourself ethic and sense of self-empowerment that a protester in Belarus or a street demonstrator in Hong Kong might recognize today. Much like Viktor Tsoi’s Soviet anthem “khochu peremen” (I want changes) still resonates on the streets of Minsk.

The Playlist
  1. Fugazi, Turnover
  2. Cat Power, He War 
  3. Minutemen, The Cheerleaders
  4. Jimmy Cliff, Vietnam 
  5. The Dicks, I Hope You Get Drafted 
  6. Public Enemy featuring Paris and Sister Souljah, Hard Rhymin’
  7. Fela Kuti, Water No Get Enemy 
  8. Kino, Khochu peremen 
Nathan O is a journalist.

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