Balls of Bob Menzies and Ratbags and Rabblerousers

I gathered many of the protest songs of the twentieth century and published them in a collection as ‘The Balls of Bob Menzies’ which was later revised to add songs from the last decade, the so-called ‘Greedy Nineties’ and published as ‘Ratbags and Rabblerousers’.

Protest songs are still being written, however their transmission is more likely to be via YouTube and other social media sites like Facebook, Instagram and MySpace. Songs are also transmitted through like-minded websites and as email attachments to sympathetic mailing lists. Often the songs are not attributed to their authors, possibly saluting the oral tradition of old? These songs are usually written and performed by dedicated protesters driven by frustration rather than profit. They come in all musical genres from folk to bluegrass to rock and, dare I say it, metal.

A quick search of YouTube for ‘Coal Seam Gas Song’ shows how today’s songs are circulated. Check out some examples:

Typically this song opens with ‘The government has sold out land…’

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Warren Fahey is a Sydney-based Cultural Historian, author and performer. His Australian Folklore Unit site offers resources on Australian history, music and folklore.