Music Keeps "Occupy" Movement Humming Along (Videos)

On March 17th, the 6th month anniversary of Occupy Wall Street, hundreds of 99 Percenters chose to return to their original stomping grounds on Wall Street. But this time they were pushed back by NY City cops, and as tensions rose, one activist was actually punched in the head by officers several times, while others were subdued and arrested.

This video was uploaded from an Android phone but provides you with a small glimpse of what transpired between the protesters and police. Violence breaks out at the 2:50 minute mark.

Having had several run-ins with the protesters in the fall, many pointed to Deputy Inspector Edward J. Winski as the first armed member of the police force to grab and man-handle protesters. Officer Winski has oversight over the 1st Precinct which encompasses an area that consists of only one square mile but essentially includes Zuccotti Park, or "Ground-zero" for the very first Wall Street occupations that commenced back on September 17, 2011.

Anyone who remembers Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim's ground-breaking musical that premiered back in 1957 knows that "Gee, Officer Krupke" was one of the more comical numbers. As members of the street gang, the Jets plead with Officer Krupke to lend them a little slack, as they skirt the law on Manhattan's West Side.

On April 15th, under the music label of "keroscenerecords" -the group #OccupyWestSideStory uploaded a parody of the song modifying and dedicating the lyrics to the Deputy Inspector who is described as their "favorite perpetrator of police brutality and squasher of dissent," with opening lyrics that include a shout-out to Mayor Bloomberg.

The lyrics of the entire parody can be found here:

bwaySteve BakerbwaySteve BakerThe music industry's alliance to the Occupy movement is not new. Back in November of last year, in a post titled, "Portrait of 60s Protester Adds Perspective To Occupy Movement In Song," I reviewed Steve Baker's (aka bwaySteve) country tune titled, the "99 Percenter Song."

Having lived through a down economy, lay-offs and down-sizing first-hand, the songwriter was hit hard when his "day job" went south. Finding a common thread that many of us can relate to, one of his song's basic tenets is recognizing that hopelessness and hope are two sides to the same coin.

Similar to #OccupyWestSideStory, and also fans of tongue-and-cheek lyrics, Occupella is a group that hails from the San Francisco Bay area and believes, that "music has the power to build spirit, foster a sense of unity, convey messages and emotions, spread information, and bring joy to participants and audiences alike."

The group is the creation of singers and cultural workers Hali Hammer, Betsy Rose, Nancy Schimmel, Bonnie Lockhart and Leslie Hassberg. Here you find the traveling troubadours reviving the 1908 classic "Take Me Out To The Ball Game," renamed "Take Me Out To The Big Banks." Note the frustrated Citi bank manager ushering them to the door while alerting them that he has called "the cops" 

Some say the Occupy Movement is waning and never really had a strong enough leadership presence to create change - namely in making a dent in how the financial banking and investment industry machine disportionately controls the country's wealth. Hopefully, with songwriters and musical ensembles like bwaySteve, #OccupyWestSideStory and Occupella, perhaps the fire and passion can still continue to be kindled through music and song. Your thoughts readers?

Apr 17, 2012
by Anonymous

Occupy cultural workers

Culture and its artistic components have been the exclusive property of the 1% for too long. Now we have to fight against that exclusive "right" and bring culture back to the 99%. This new culture will be truly the expression of the people, without elitism and from the bottom up. Thank you for this great post.

May 3, 2012
by Ron Callari

"The World You Live In" - Occupy Music by Maximillion

Thanks for posting. Like the song/ lyrics - vocals have a Dave Matthews 'dirge' quality to it!