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Using music and images to make a political statement

By CALLIE MORAN
May 13, 2012

Political protest and statement can come in many forms and activists have long used music to spread a message, be it “Give Peace a Chance” by John Lennon, “This Land is Your Land” by Woody Guthrie, “Draft Dodger Rag” by Phil Ochs or “We Shall Overcome,” the anthem of civil rights.

Here at Capitol Hill Blue, we constantly look for new ways to spread news and information. Publisher Doug Thompson and his wife added documentary film making to their arsenal of communication tools several years ago and have produced a number of award-winning short films on topics ranging from bluegrass music, community activism and politics.

Recently, Doug was asked to produce a sort piece on mountaintop removal and strip mining — a practice that still exists in Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky and other states.

“I’ve always been a fan of John Prine‘s song, ‘Paradise,’ which tells the story of Paradise, Kentucky, a town wiped off the face of the map by coal company greed and environmental devastation,” he says. “So I took some photos and added them to a video I shot in 2007 of a Southwestern Virginia group singing Prine’s song.”

The result is shown above.  It has been featured used by groups opposing mountaintop removal and by television stations reporting on the issue.  Doug and Amy Thompson planned to expand it into a full documentary on the issue.

“I don’t believe in injecting myself into the story,” Doug says.  “I hope the music can tell the story.”

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4 Responses to Using music and images to make a political statement

  1. Almandine

    May 13, 2012 at 8:01 pm

    This seems much more like a typical folk song of the mildly historical variety than some kind of “political statement”.

    If you’ve got an axe to grind don’t be so obtuse about it.

  2. griff

    May 14, 2012 at 12:41 am

    Serj Tankian – Money

    Sorry, no banjos.

  3. Jon

    May 14, 2012 at 2:48 am

    o/~

    We are the folk song army!
    guitars are the weapons we bring
    To the fight against poverty, war, and injustice
    Ready
    Aim
    Sing!

    (Dr. Tom Lehrer, “The Folk Song Army”)

    J.

  4. Rick

    May 14, 2012 at 7:46 am

    I’ve always thought “American Woman” was a great political song.