What: “The Walls Came Down,” The Call’s declaration of war against the military-industrial complex off its 1983 album Modern Romans.
Why: In 1983, just as now, the world looked like it was coming apart. As the Soviet Union and United States staked out their respective positions as evil empires in each other’s eyes, the center could not hold. Meanwhile, America began to learn what the word “terrorism” meant, as its embassy in Lebanon and the U.S. Senate were bombed. We were facing an uncertain future, and Michael Been of The Call distilled that tremulous uncertainty into an unignorable klaxon based on the battle of Jericho. “They blew their horns, and the walls came down,” Been sang, following it with the punch in the gut: “They’d all been warned, and the walls came down.” More than any other song of protest, “The Walls Came Down” spelled out the consequences of not listening to the disenfranchised.
Impact: The song was a cult hit, followed up by modest successes such as “Everywhere I Go” and “I Still Believe”. But importantly, the revolution didn’t happen in America. Instead, the walls actually did come down, in Berlin and elsewhere. Because the Russians and Yanks blinked, the revolution here was delayed throughout a period of prosperity unequaled in history. It was only in late 2008, when, propped up by derivatives tossed like candy by corporate criminals, Wall Street came crashing down. But as Been notes, the corporate criminals still have the tanks. The Occupy movement seems inclined to stare them down. Here’s a song to inspire them through the uncertain times ahead.
Personal Connection: At first, I admit I didn’t understand the Occupy movement. As the owner of a business and a firm adherent of the capitalist ethic, I don’t actually want the walls to come down. But even I can’t ignore how metastasized the cancer in the system has become. Tipped by regime topplers in the Arab world and capitol squatters in Madison, the folks in Zuccotti Park, in McPherson Square, in Westlake Mall, and everywhere else in the world have figured it out. The organized system of crackdowns has tried to take away their voices, but through tactics like hand signals and the human microphone, they have shown their determination to heed the call. Let the day begin.
Other Contenders: Occupy Wall Street is getting a soundtrack, so I won’t presume to know what its equivalent of Gil Scott-Heron’s “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” will be. I’m partial to Ry Cooder’s “Wall Street Part of Town”, but I expect it’ll come from some voice we’ve not heard. Maybe it’ll be Lupe Fiasco’s rap poem “Moneyman”.