One of the things I love most about being a songwriter is that I can write songs that make people think. I can raise awareness about issues, I can talk about my own personal struggles, and I can even champion a cause with my voice and my piano.
Many, many songwriters have done the same over the years (and centuries!), often with amazing results. Here is just an itty-bitty teeny-tiny cross-section of songs that have made people think, reason, and change their views over the years:
Another Day in Paradise – Phil Collins
About how we can all too easily miss the signs that someone else is in need.
Allentown – Billy Joel
Describing the consequences of job loss and falling economy in Allentown.
Soldier in the Rain – England Dan and John Ford Coley
About a soldier who comes home from war, only to feel that his old life is closed off to him.
Imagine – John Lennon
About revisualizing the world’s boundaries (in personal, religious, and social ways)–even if you don’t end up adopting the mindset.
Not Ready to Make Nice – Dixie Chicks
About conflict and forgiveness (or being too mad to forgive), both for the specific political situation the band faced as well as in general.
Dirty Laundry – Don Henley
About the increasing sensationalism in the media, and the public’s increasing hunger for it.
Hurricane – 30 Seconds to Mars
Asks a good question: “Would you kill to prove you’re right?” Describes the “hurricane” of conflicting opinions/factions we all live in today, and the desire to just hide from them all “underground.”
Jesus, Friend of Sinners – Casting Crowns
About the modern church (and the historical church, too) and all the human sins we let pass for “standing up for God”. Also teaches what “loving like Jesus” really means.
The Needle and the Damage Done – Neil Young
About drug addiction and the pain/heartbreak it brings.
HOPE (feat. Faith Evans) – Twista
About maintaining hope in the face of tragedy, whether personal or social.
American Pie – Don McLean
Does this song even NEED an introduction? …NAAAH!
One Day (feat. Akon) – Matisyahu
About the gritty reality of our modern life, contrasted with the dream of worldwide peace.
Hypnotize – System of a Down
About social protest and society’s attempt to cover it up or silence it…and how it affects even those who think they have no stake in the issues.
Find The Cost of Freedom – Crosby Stills Nash and Young
Short but poignant song about war’s real cost.
Alyssa Lies – Jason Michael Carroll
About child abuse and how it affects others who see the evidence.
Hotel California – The Eagles
Describing the bleakness and hollowness of the California drug scene in the ’70s.
The Trees – Rush
About political unrest and ideological clashes.
Ohio – Crosby Stills Nash and Young
About protesting the Kent State shootings in 1970.
The Man in the Mirror – Michael Jackson
About social and political awareness, and how the impulse to make positive change begins with each individual person.
Home – Phillip Phillips
About belonging, and having a home to return to.