The Times They Are a Changin’: How Protest Music Helped Shape America

William McKeen / Boston University

Music has always advanced the agenda of change. Rock ‘n’ roll did not invent the concept of protest music, but artists such as Chuck Berry, Eddie Cochran and Bob Dylan helped shape the changing country in the last half century. This course begins with the pre-rock traditions of protest found in folk music and in the social commentary of singers such as Billie Holiday. Chuck Berry imbued his early, classic rock ‘n’ roll songs with sly social commentary and Bob Dylan crafted anthems that endure: songs as relevant in 2020 as they were in the early Sixties. Professor McKeen will also explore how modern artists, such as Childish Gambino, carry forward the American tradition of music with a message.