Music Monday: Tribute Songs

by Scott Lydon

Tomorrow's a sad day in American history, and in honor of that, Scott's made this week's Music Monday a list of historical tributes. You might already know most of the songs he's chosen, but let's just say it now: if you're feeling a little down at the moment, this might not be the Music Monday for you. We'll start with a pretty one:

Dion - Abraham, Martin And John

 

Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, John F. Kennedy and Robert Kennedy. This song from 1968 is a gentle tribute to men who served their people, and gave their lives because of it. It's pretty without being too sappy, and it really captures the shocked heartbreak of what it feels like to wake up and know everything has changed, and there's nothing you can do about it.

After the jump, you'll find four more songs that have paid tribute to tragedy.

We're skipping the Spotify list this time, so watch for last week's mix next week.

U2 - Sunday Bloody Sunday

 

Back in 1983, Bono wasn't as easy to roll your eyes at. This U2 song is built around Bloody Sunday, when British soldiers opened fire on unarmed marchers, but the real anger isn't aimed at individuals. U2's "How long?" is more aimed at the very idea that we'd be killing each other for stupid reasons. And it doesn't hurt that the band made it easy to sing along with.

The Bee Gees - New York Mining Disaster 1941

 

The Bee Gees supposedly drew inspiration from the Aberfan disaster, a cave-in at a Welsh mine. But the story resonates much wider. The gentle harmonies capture the last-chance optimism of two men who aren't ready to give up, but also are clearly starting to think they should. And maybe if the narrator doesn't make it, he'll live on in the memories of his buddy, Mr. Jones.

Blacksmoke - Silent Night (9/11)

May be offensive to some readers
please read the description below

 

Why the warning? Because James Cauty's response to September 11th, 2001 is a very serious piece. As part of 90s pop group the KLF, Cauty used sampling and references in a way that was just plain fun. As Blacksmoke, Cauty used sampling and references to express just how terrible it felt to be watching television the day of the tragedy. Mixing a well known Christmas hymn with a live narration of the events creates… well, a frozen slice of time. I find it incredibly moving, but it's very intense, so be warned: this song may hurt your heart in a way no other tribute song ever will.

Bruce Springsteen - The Rising

 

The hardest part of a tragedy is moving on. It's important to mourn, and remember, but it's equally important to dust yourself off and stand up again. There's probably not an artist alive who can handle that theme better than Bruce Springsteen. It's classically dad-rock, sure, but sometimes we just need a good anthem to clear our heads and pay tribute to those who sacrificed.

We have to remind you: some images come from the corresponding Wikipedia page and are here under fair use. Feel free to add your own tribute songs of any sort in the comments below, if you'd like. Also visit our Turntable.fm room if you feel like you need a community to hang out with. We'd love to see you.