Student Protests Are Totally Rock’n’Roll – So Where’s The Soundtrack?

There is not one band, no solitary collection of hirsute blokes or decorous girls, doing anything as remotely rock’n’roll as the students on the streets of London right now. If Joe Strummer was still with us (God rest his soul), he’d be on BBC News 24 cheering with a Telecaster slung around his neck.

What’s happening today is the Elvis-debut-album of protests. It is Paul Simonon smashing that bass. I hope to God we’ve got Pennie Smith types on the streets grabbing the iconic shots to record it.

The students have ditched the big march being corralled by cops into the kettles. They are staying in small groups, playing cat and mouse, a guerilla style of campaigning. There’s a sit-in at Trafalgar Square.

This is not students being violent. It’s students standing up and shouting for what they believe in – a truly beautiful thing. It’s days like this I wish Steven Wells was still with us, the vein in his forehead pulsating as he pounded his keyboard.

We have no protest songs right now. We don’t have our own ‘Give Peace A Chance’, ‘Give Ireland Back To The Irish’, ‘Blowin’ In The Wind’, ‘War’ (“Huh! What is it good for? Absolutely nothing! Sing it again”) or ‘Free Nelson Mandela.’

We have got solipsistic musicians writing about themselves. There’s something real happening out there right now and the closest thing we’ve got to a rebel in recent years is bloody Reverend And The Makers.

Come on your listless dilettante potato-faced tools, give us some rock’n’roll to soundtrack the riots and rages of our generation. Bin your chillwave chuntering and pull your heads out of your arses.

The country is under siege from misery and we need a new generation of bands to give us something to live for. Rock stars, you’re not doing your job right. Where’s our ‘Street Fighting Man’? I’ve not heard it yet.

Those students are tapping in to something that’s more visceral, more real than anyone on the NME Cool List has got anywhere near. They are truly fighting for what they believe in, whether you agree with them or not.

This is one of those moments in our lifetimes when you need to stand up and be counted. Rock’n’roll needs to stand together with the students. Come on musicians, I dare you to say something really controversial – not just slag off the bloody Drums.

Stop the student-bashing – they’re right to be angry

21 protest anthems

Photos of previous student protests