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David Hajdu and Jill Sobule

Their Songs Were Their Weapon: The Role of Music in Political Resistance in America

David Hajdu, author and professor at Columbia University, joins activist songwriter Jill Sobule in a program on the role of music in political resistance in America.

A leading scholar of protest music past and present, Hajdu will discuss both the history of activism through music and the function of music in the contemporary political sphere. Since the time of the Great Depression, artists in and out of the commercial mainstream have used music to challenge entrenched powers in business and politics, defy social conventions, and rally public support for dissident points of view. This tradition endures, transmuted into new forms for the age of streaming and tweeting.

Jill Sobule, critically esteemed songwriter and singer, will conclude the program with a performance of songs of social and political dissent, from the rallying cries of the Dust Bowl era to songs of contemporary protest.

David Hajdu is Professor of Journalism at Columbia, music critic for The Nation, and the author of five award winning books: Lush Life, Positively 4th Street, The Ten-Cent Plague, Heroes and Villains, and Love for Sale. Hajdu is also a highly regarded songwriter, with songs on five albums released in recent years, including Waiting for the Angel: Songs with Words by David Hajdu.

Jill Sobule is a singer-writer in the smart and witty tradition of Randy Newman and Warren Zevon. On over 11 albums and in more than two decades of recording and performing, Jill has mused, with great compassion, and empathy, on a wide range of subjects including the death penalty, depression, anorexia, Alzheimer’s disease, coming of age, and intolerance. She is continuing that legacy with My Song is My Weapon, a new collaborative project that speaks important truths in modern times.

Jill will also be performing a special half- hour concert directly following the Lyceum.

Moderator: Nancy Harrowitz has served as Education Director for the Boston Bluegrass Union since 2002, and has taught voice workshops for beginning singers at music festivals across the east coast.

Lecture Audio