Can Rock Save the World?

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Live Earth founder Kevin Wall, Paste magazine editor Josh Jackson and musician Alejandro Escovedo talk about music's role in bringing about change. They join host Bob Boilen in examining the ways rock music has helped solve problems on both a global and personal level. Below are just a few of the countless songs that have helped make a difference.

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Can Rock Save the World?

The Concert for Bangladesh

Bangla Desh

  • Artist: George Harrison
  • Album: The Concert for Bangladesh
  • Song: Bangla Desh

Long before Farm Aid and "We Are the World," there was The Concert for Bangladesh. The 1971 performance was organized by George Harrison, fresh out of the Beatles, to raise money for the troubled country. It featured many of his friends and fellow artists like Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton and Billy Preston.

Note: The label did not give us permission to play the full version of this song.

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Bangla Desh
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The Concert for Bangladesh
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George Harrison

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Some Time in New York City

John Sinclair

  • Artist: John Lennon
  • Album: Some Time in New York City
  • Song: John Sinclair

In 1969, poet and activist John Sinclair was caught with two joints and sentenced to 10 years in prison. John Lennon wrote this song in protest and later headlined at a benefit concert for Sinclair. Sinclair was freed on appeal after serving 29 months.

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John Sinclair
Album
Some Time in New York City
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John Lennon

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So Far

Ohio

  • Artist: Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young
  • Album: So Far
  • Song: Ohio

Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young recorded this Neil Young song to protest the National Guard's 1970 shooting of 13 students on the campus of Kent State in Ohio. Four of the students, who were protesting the Vietnam War, were killed. Nine others were injured. A studio recording of this song first appeared on the 1974 album So Far.

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Ohio
Album
So Far
Artist
Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young

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War

Sunday Bloody Sunday

  • Artist: U2
  • Album: War
  • Song: Sunday Bloody Sunday

U2's opening track for their 1983 album War was an overtly political song against the violence in Northern Ireland.

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Sunday Bloody Sunday
Album
War
Artist
U2

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Peter Gabriel III: Melt

Biko

  • Artist: Peter Gabriel
  • Album: Peter Gabriel III: Melt
  • Song: Biko

This 1980 Peter Gabriel song remembers Steve Biko, a South African anti-apartheid campaigner who was arrested and died in police custody in 1977. Though police claimed his death was the result of a hunger strike, Biko was found to have massive head injuries.

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Biko
Album
Peter Gabriel III: Melt
Artist
Peter Gabriel

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Dead Man Walking (Soundtrack)

Ellis Unit One

  • Artist: Steve Earle
  • Album: Dead Man Walking (Soundtrack)
  • Song: Ellis Unit One

Steve Earle's meditation on a death row prison guard first appeared on the 1996 soundtrack for the film Dead Man Walking.

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Ellis Unit One
Album
Dead Man Walking (Soundtrack)
Artist
Steve Earle

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Neon Bible

Intervention

  • Artist: Arcade Fire
  • Album: Neon Bible
  • Song: Intervention

Proceeds from the sale of this track by The Arcade Fire go to help support the Hatian charity Partners in Health.

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Intervention
Album
Neon Bible
Artist
The Arcade Fire
Label
Merge

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Por Vida: A Tribute To The Songs Of Alejandro Escovedo

Wave

  • Artist: Calexico
  • Album: Por Vida: A Tribute To The Songs Of Alejandro Escovedo
  • Song: Wave

Alejandro Escovedo got his start in a punk band called the Nuns in the mid '70s and went on to pioneer his own blend of folk, progressive country, roots rock and various Latin flavors. He collapsed following a show in 2003 and was diagnosed with Hepatitis C. This album was a benefit to raise money for his medical bills.

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Song
Wave
Album
Por Vida: A Tribute To The Songs Of Alejandro Escovedo
Artist
Calexico

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