Cause Song of the Month:
Toronto turntable-rock duo USS (Ubiquitous Synergy Seeker) wrote “Shipwreck” — for the album Advanced Basics — about depression and addiction and “drowning in a sea of blame.” But there’s always help to pull you out of your funk or dire situation. “Call me / When you need someone to listen to you / Call me / When you're flirting with the edge,” Ashley Buchholz sings. While no money from the sale of the song goes to Kids Help Phone, at the end of the music video is the contact for the anonymous youth counselling service and a new USS t-shirt in 2015 will generate a $2 donation from each sale. Buy the song here. — Karen Bliss
This a cappella song about domestic abuse is as powerful today as it was when Tracy Chapman released it in the late 80s. Found just four songs in on her remarkable self-titled debut, the words of "Behind The Wall" no doubt ring true for many people in an abusive relationship that have tried to get help. “It won't do no good to call / The police / Always come late / If they come at all,” Chapman sings, as an outsider listening to the screams. “And when they arrive /They say they can't interfere / With domestic affairs / Between a man and his wife.” Buy it here. —Karen Bliss
Neil Young has recorded three different versions of this new protest song — from his forthcoming album, Storeytone — a live remix with Crazy Horse, solo acoustic, and with a full orchestra and 30-person choir. “Protect the wild / Tomorrow’s child / Protect the land from the greed of man,” it begins. The detailed and direct environmental song was unveiled live in Europe when the singer was touring with Crazy Horse. “End fossil fuel / Draw the line / Before we build one more pipline / End fracking now / Let’s save water,” he continues, “And build a life for our songs and daughters.” He has given permission for people to make videos using the song "and any way you see fit" in order to further spread the message. — K.B.
This group of young German musicians have disabilities, primarily autism, and are touring the northeastern U.S. and Canada this month to spread their message of inclusion and equality. In their rock song “Alles Egal,” which means “All The Same” — sung mainly by The Mix founder/producer (and older gentleman) Peter Savic — they open with the German lyric: “The way we look at things is the way we see it” but later repeat the English phrase: “Well, it really doesn’t matter, doesn’t matter at all.” Watch the live video and see their tour dates. — K.B.
You can hear the pain and frustration in his voice on “Be Free.” American hip hop artist J. Cole wrote and recorded this raw ballad about the Aug. 9 killing of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. On the Dreamvillain blog, he writes, “That coulda been me, easily. It could have been my best friend. I’m tired of being desensitized to the murder of black men. I don’t give a fuck if it’s by police or peers. This shit is not normal. I made a song. This is how we feel.” It says it all. Take a listen. — K.B.
The late New York-born singer-songwriter whose songs were covered by such artists as Barbra Streisand, Blood Sweat & Tears, Peter Paul & Mary and the Fifth Dimension, was always drawn to socially conscious songs, she said. A vegetarian, her “Lite A Flame (The Animal Rights Song)” — which begins “In the zoo, they gave him a cage” — appears on 1993’s Walk The Dog and Light the Light, and disc 2 of 1997’s Stoned Soul Picnic: The Best of Laura Nyro. She died that year of ovarian cancer at age 49. Buy the song here — K.B.
Kim Mitchell and then writing partner Pye Dubois didn’t write “Go For Soda” about drinking and driving, but that’s what the song — released on 1984’s Akimo Alogo — has come to symbolize these past 30 years. “Might as well go for a soda / Nobody hurts and nobody cries / Nobody drowns and nobody dies,” the Canadian rocker sings. The single became a big hit in America for and Mother Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) licensed it for their anti DUI campaigns. To this day, Mitchell lets it be used for that purpose, most recently for The Safe and Sober Awareness Committee of Midland. Buy it here — K.B.
Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, made famous by such supporters as Bob Dylan and Muhammad Ali, died April 20 in Toronto of prostate cancer. He was 76. Carter is the subject of Dylan’s masterfully written 1975 protest song recounting the story of the young man’s arrest in 1966 and false conviction for triple murder. Dylan visited Carter in prison and began to write the song with Jacques Levy. The 8-minute opus — found on the 1976 album Desire — helped bring further attention to Carter’s case and wrongful imprisonment. In 1988, all charges were dropped. From 1993 until 2005, Carter was the executive director of Canada’s Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted. Buy the song here. — K.B.
Pop band Neverest is offering a free download of “Immortalized” — co-written with motivational speaker Spencer West — the official anthem for Free The Children’s We Make Change Tour. The Toronto act, which has toured with Backstreet Boys and New Kids On The Block, is appearing on various We Day dates, the arena-sized gathering for school kids about making a difference. “[The lyrics] encourage kids to not be afraid to take those risks in life that can not only create opportunity, but create positive change for themselves and others, much like We Day's slogan, ‘Be the Change,’” Neverest bassist Paul Loduca tells Samaritanmag. Download the song here. — K.B.
Long before “My Humps” and “I Gotta Feeling,” The Black Eyed Peas were a burgeoning alternative hip hop group but when Fergie joined will.i.am, Taboo and apl.de.ap during the making of 2003’s Elephunk, it gave them a more mainstream sound. Their pop breakthrough was the lead single “Where Is The Love?” which topped charts in 13 countries. The timing for such a song was perfect. Written just after the 9/11 terrorist attacks — with assistance from an uncredited Justin Timberlake — the lyrics address global and domestic issues, including war, terrorism, racism and gang violence. Today, sadly, the song is still relevant. Buy it here. — K.B.
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