Comparing Hughes' Protest Poem to the song You Turn The Screws by Cake

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Protest Songs Essay

Over the years, there have always been songs, and things to protest about. And what do you get when you put them together? You get…Protest Songs!! Protest songs have been around for almost for ever, song artists used and still use their music to voice their opinion against things, therefore making it a form of protest. I am going to compare and contrast a poem from the Great Depression by Langston Hughes, and a modern song by Cake.

Let me start by describing the protest poem by Langston Hughes. This poem is about the great depression that was going on in the time that it was written, it compares and contrasts opposites; The joy and happiness of Christmas, which the anger, hatred, and sadness of war. It describes how the war not only effects the U.S., but also the whole world. It brings up places ranging from China and India to Cuba and Haiti (first half of poem.

) The poem is trying to bring to your attention about these things like war, and bad economic laws, (paragraph six) but in a subtle way, its asking you to change these things for the better. The song You Turn The Screws is also a similar protest song. This song was written and performed by Cake. The song is subtle in its point, by giving it a clam facade. It describes a government official, confronting him. And about how he turns the screws of the U.S. (Red White and Blue,) and does it regularly.

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That its the persons job to run everyones life. Cake paints the picture of an upper middle class working man, with a perfect life, who twists the knife, and takes control, and his decisions affect the whole country. And then he just goes home, to kiss his wife, just like an average American.

When the song says you break up the band, flimsy as it is, its open-mic punk rock, it is saying that you and the rest of the democratic government doesnt believe in rebellious ideas like punk rock etc. That you just break up the ones that dont follow the rules. But how can you be happy when you turn the screws?. In this part of the song, the lead singer, is asking him, how can someone like you who is so hated for his actions, and is really just following old fashioned orders of democratic government; to keep the good ones happy, and to get rid of the bad ones, and the non-believers. Both song bring up important and controversial issues. The songwriters were some of the only people who would speak up and out for and against issues. The piece- Merry Christmas, by Langston Hughes brings up the issues of economics, the great depression, and the hope for peace. You Tum the Screws brings up the topic of the governments actions, the government officials and followers, and just the government in general. (For example, when it says in Merry Christmas about the down-and-outers, it blames it on the economic laws made by the government,) Both are against the government for making faulty decisions, laws, and acts, and just the way the government does things.

For example, in Merry Christmas, when it says And to you down-and-outers, (Due to economic laws) it is saying that many people are poor, and down on their luck without jobs etc. due to the bad and faulty laws made by the government that were supposed to help the U.S. In You Turn the Screws, you tear down the bridge, flimsy as it is, its business like, means that the government just destroys instead of building a stronger nation, even while were still flimsy after these years. That its just their (the governments.) job/business to do so The poem, Merry Christmas and the song, You Turn The Screws have very different feelings. The feeling of Merry Christmas is anger, sarcasm, hope, hatred even. While You Turn the Screws has the feeling of calmness, and subtlety. The lyrics of the song have great importance, but the song also brings up the point that you can get a point through by being subtle, and not yelling. The song specifically relates to the U.S. and its dysfunctional democratic government.

In the end, protest songs/poems like Merry Christmas, and You Turn the Screws have a great affect on the past, and future generations to come. They bring us hope, and fear, but always ending in getting something done. Where would we be without them? In conclusion, protest songs and poems effect everyone in the world, and thanks to them, look where we are now! But there have definitely always been protest songs, and there always will be.

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Comparing Hughes' Protest Poem to the song You Turn The Screws by Cake. (2023, May 16). Retrieved from

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