4 of the Most Iconic Folk Protest Songs Ever

Folk music as a genre is known for its incredible protest songs. Let’s take a quick look at four of the most iconic folk protest songs ever written! But, it is worth noting that this list is far from exhaustive; it would be never-ending if we included them all.

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1. “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” by Bob Dylan

Would this be a list of folk protest songs without including some Bob Dylan classics? “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” was released in 1963, but it’s more than relevant decades later. The song was featured on Dylan’s album The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, and it perfectly describes what post-war America looked like at the time… and now.

[See Bob Dylan Live With Willie Nelson In 2024]

2. “Between The Wars” by Billy Bragg

This track from Billy Bragg is the perfect one to lead a crowd with nothing but a single voice and an acoustic guitar. Bragg performed it live in 1985 on Top Of The Pops, and it was a controversial statement. The song exposed the violent fight miners in the UK had to fight during the striking days.

3. “This Land Is Your Land” by Woodie Guthrie

This Woodie Guthrie classic is still beloved today. And it’s one of many Guthrie songs that was inevitably going to become a protest staple. “This Land Is Your Land” celebrates the stunning nature of the United States and questions the concept of owning private property.

4. “Masters Of War” by Bob Dylan

Another Bob Dylan masterpiece, “Masters Of War” from 1963 is a protest song that leaves quite a bit of room for interpretation. It portrays Dylan in his youth and at his most angry, picking apart the feeling of being helpless in the wake of the US’s international involvement with wars in Cuba and Vietnam. Dylan has since said that it was meant to be a “pacifistic song against war” and not necessarily an anti-war song.

Photo by Michael Ochs Archives

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