Public Enemy, Cat Power, Mozart, MC5, Gang of Four. Cat Power photo by Stefano Giovannini

"The American Ruse"


While many would opt for "Kick Out the Jams" to represent Detroit rabble-rousers the MC5 on a revolution mixtape—because it is an ultimate party anthem, and unbelievably motivational in the physical movement department—we're going with "The American Ruse." The ruse ("terminal stasis") of which the MC5 sang on this sparky, catchy rocker sprang from the Vietnam War era's sociopolitical environment, but US–based ruses recur like nightmares, so this song maintains relevance today. As these motherfuckers played for eight hours at the violence-plagued 1968 Democratic National Convention, their liberal-­activist cred stands as a sterling example to all politically engaged bands. DAVE SEGAL

"Fight the Power"

Public Enemy

The revolutionary rap group comes strong here with its most direct message. Riding the unstoppable "Funky Drummer" breakbeat, "Fight the Power" sprays righteous outrage in multiple directions, at injustices from multiple eras, but Chuck D's authoritative words and delivery and the inspirational rhythmic thrust are enough to keep any crowd of activists focused and mobile. This track recurred throughout Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing, and its funky fury should be a major catalyst for the Occupy Wall Street movement. "Our freedom of speech is freedom or death/We got to fight the powers that be," Chuck declares, truthfully. DAVE SEGAL

"God Save the Queen"

The Sex Pistols

This one may seem obvious, but it's fucking essential. The Sex Pistols were considered dangerous, "dangerous to the very fabric of society," and were banned from playing shows all across the UK. "God Save the Queen" was their first single, and the BBC banned its airplay during daytime hours. While there's much debate about who started punk, its confrontational, political ethos was unquestionably pioneered into the collective consciousness by Johnny Rotten. Also, how can Steve Jones's glorious and anthemic chord progressions not charge you up? That and the iconic chorus: "No future/No future/No future for you/ Noooo future/Noooo future/Noooo future for me," which hits with as much resonance now as it did all the way back in recession-malaised London circa 1977. GRANT BRISSEY

Overture, The Marriage of Figaro


Okay—from the classical world, I would say the fourth movement of Shostakovich's String Quartet No. 8 because it's shot through with unforgettably urgent percussive knocks, inspired by Stalin's death squads at the composer's doors. But playing that piece of music could drain spice out of pepper, and occupiers need energy to keep this thing going. What you want is the four-minute blast of an overture that begins Mozart's opera The Marriage of Figaro. It's playful, sneaky, insistent, and whistleable. And the opera? It's a story of class struggle disguised as light entertainment, in which the characters scheme to save a servant bride-to-be from being lawfully raped by her master. Yup. Certain kings and queens banned it. Turn it up—nobody ever suspects Mozart. JEN GRAVES

"This Land Is Your Land"

Woody Guthrie

Maybe you think of this song as some cheesy, old-timey track that your grandpa or hippie parents liked. You know what: They were fucking right, and you're not paying attention if you don't see a line that runs straight from this song to the Occupy movement. I like the Bruce Springsteen version, from his 1975–'85 live album. It's mournful, and cold with fury and determination, and at the beginning Bruce explains why "This Land Is Your Land" is one of America's best protest songs. "This song was originally—it was written as an angry song," Bruce says, over slow guitar picking. "It was an answer to Irving Berlin, who had just wrote 'God Bless America.' And this song was written as an answer to that song." The implied contempt at the idea that this would be enough—"God Bless America," we're done here—is as clear now as it was when Woody Guthrie wrote "This Land Is Your Land" in 1940. Bruce continues: "And, um, this is about one of the most beautiful songs ever written." Truth. Go look up the so-called secret verses, the ones about "the squares of the city," and take them with you down to Westlake. ELI SANDERS

"Get Up, Get Into It, Get Involved"

James Brown

Protesters need this track mainly for its galvanizing sonic power; few pieces of music light a hotter fire under your ass than "Get Up, Get Into It, Get Involved." That being said, the title—which gets shouted with utmost call-and-response soulfulness and force by JB and Bobby Byrd—is solid advice for any concerned citizen. The triumphant horn charts, insistently funky bass line, and tensely torqued rhythms all coalesce into a joyous cattle prod to revolutionary machinations. Let your pulse rate rise to the occasion! DAVE SEGAL

"Capital (It Fails Us Now)"

Gang of Four

These British post-punk Marxists are a font of leftist punditry and poetry. Their first two albums—Entertainment! and Solid Gold—burst with trenchant observations about the personal and the political, all set to abrasively funky rock that was as sonically advanced as it was intellectually gripping. Initially released as a single in 1981, "Capital (It Fails Us Now)" is especially pertinent now. A scathing look at consumerism and credit-card debt, the track is a coiled funk jam that's at once angst-ridden and uplifting. "One day old and I'm living on credit," GO4's Jon King and Andy Gill lament near song's end, neatly summarizing banks' tyranny over the citizenry. DAVE SEGAL

"Forces of Oppression"

The Pop Group

Hell, the Pop Group's whole For How Much Longer Do We Tolerate Mass Murder? album should probably be played on repeat at these Occupy rallies, but "Forces of Oppression" is perhaps most applicable to the cause (although some would argue for "Rob a Bank"). These English post-punks churned out this pressure-cooker funk bomb during Margaret Thatcher's contentious reign in the late '70s and early '80s, but the sentiments translate loud and clear to America circa now. The tormented tone of Mark Stewart's voice along with the music's roiling intensity generates a whirlwind of positive energy and feelings of invincibility in receptive listeners. DAVE SEGAL

"I Can't Get No Satisfaction"

Cat Power

After the first boy I ever loved broke my heart, I occupied my basement for weeks listening to Cat Power's cover of "I Can't Get No Satisfaction." (If you aren't familiar with Cat Power, imagine, for mood, a legless orphan chanting "ennui" while casually strangling a kitten.) The beauty of this song is threefold: It makes you feel simultaneously sad, righteous, and powerful; playing it repeatedly amounts to psychological warfare (think cops, government officials); and in the worst-case scenario—Occupy Seattle fizzles tomorrow, the middle class collapses into a sinkhole of debt, and banks continue buying favors from political sycophants while lodging record profits—it would be the perfect soundtrack to a mass-suicide pact. CIENNA MADRID

"To Hell with Poverty!"

Gang of Four

Putting two songs by one artist on the same mixtape has always been a strong choice, and one typically best avoided—what can two Morrissey songs communicate that one Morrissey song cannot? (Besides "I am crazy"?) But putting two Gang of Four tracks in this mix is perfectly understandable. Literally no band has ever been more lyrically explicit about the failures of capitalism (see Dave Segal's GO4 track, above), but the band's 1981 single "To Hell with Poverty!" does something the aforementioned "Capital (It Fails Us Now)" does not, setting its elliptical anticapitalist battle cries—"In this land! Right now!"—to a razor-y dance beat you can actually dance to. (Dancing to "Capital" will forever look like untreated epilepsy.) DAVID SCHMADER

"Human Being"

New York Dolls

Speaking of the failures of capitalism, one of the worst is its casting of people with no capital as people with little worth. This New York Dolls classic from 1973 rectifies that fallacy with its chorus refrain, "If I'm acting like a king, that's 'cause I'm a human being!" The moral: It doesn't take money to make a person valuable, it takes a heartbeat. DAVID SCHMADER

"A More Perfect Union," "Titus Andronicus Forever," and "No Future Part Three"

Titus Andronicus

Named after the Shakespeare tragedy that concerns Titus, a fictional general in the Roman army who's engaged in a cycle of revenge with Tamora, Queen of the Goths, Titus Andronicus released one hell of a revolution soundtrack in 2010's The Monitor. It all starts with opener "A More Perfect Union," which quotes a monologue by Abraham Lincoln that ends with the words, "If destruction be our lot we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of free men we will live forever or die by suicide." Frontman Patrick Stickles's bedraggled croon gets real political, and as I've said before, sometimes it all makes you proud just to be alive. "Union" bleeds into "Titus Andronicus Forever," which in turn bleeds into "No Future Part Three." But the highlight comes at the end of "Union," when Stickles quotes prominent American abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison: "I am in earnest. I will not equivocate. I will not excuse. I will not retreat a single inch. AND I WILL BE HEARD," then breaks into the rousing chorus—"The enemy is everywhere/The enemy is everywhere," sung by the whole group, guitars and drums blaring. It's gripping and inspiring, and in this fight, the enemy is everywhere. Realizing that is a potent start. GRANT BRISSEY recommended