Several years back I did a series about music released with an eye towards social impact or change. Called Music With a Purpose, it was one of the more enjoyable series that I’ve written. The starting point was some great music, made all the more significant given the underlying meaning. Well, the time has come to return to the topic.
The best music, and all art for that matter, makes us feel. Sometimes it is about individual emotions, other times it is about broader society. I many cases one may gravitate towards art that captures your personal experience or point of view. Often times, however, it is just as powerful to spend time with art that presents a different view. In fact, that is when art is at its most profound – suggesting a different perspective that you can consider on your own terms.
Regardless of one’s political views, I expect we’ll all agree that we are living in turbulent times. Some foresee the resurgence of punk rock as a response. Maybe, but let’s not forget the tradition of folk music. Of course punk and folk are perhaps the extremes, music with a purpose spans genre.
A collection of artists are already letting, well, their music do the talking.
Shakey Graves has quietly been releasing limited edition albums of b-sides and live performances annually for the past several years. This year he is raising his voice, figuratively and literally, by donating a portion of the proceeds of this year’s release to meaningful charitable causes. Even better, his entire catalog – including previous limited edition releases – are part of the pay-what-you-want offer. (Act quick though, its only available until Feb 11th!)
Round Boston town, a diverse group of 26 female musicians recently gathered to record an a cappella song called “Sisters of a Different Skin.” The group, organized by singer-songwriter Susan Cattaneo, called themselves the Lucy Stone Singers after the first woman to ever graduate from a US college.
Then there is the series formerly known as 30 Days, 30 Songs. It has now expanded to become 1,000 Days, 1,000 Songs. Now 65 days in, it features songs both new and old that reflect on the state of politics and society in the US. Here’s Aimee Mann’s contribution to the collection. Count me among those eager to see what is to come over the next 935 days.
About the author: Mild-mannered corporate executive by day, excitable Twangville denizen by night.