Op-Ed: Music records history, as it does with Edward Snowden

Posted Jul 20, 2013 by Carol Forsloff
Music often forms the foundation for society’s perception of events, recording history sometimes as it happens. It has often been used to protest, inform, educate and stimulate emotions, even with controversial figures like Edward Snowden.
NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden:  I don t want to live in a society that does these sort of things
NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden: "I don't want to live in a society that does these sort of things"
Screengrab Guardian
Edward Snowden, stands in the lens of history as someone who has provoked considerable discussion among scholars, politicians and everyday folk. He becomes a symbol of historical events, even as Daniel Ellsberg and Muhammad Ali were before him, events like the Vietnam War, and recorded in song as many others have been.
But as history narrates character with a long view, as it has redefined Muhammad Ali from a boxer turned war protestor to an advocate for the disabled and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
In the Middle Ages troubadours often served to inform the people, often just the aristocracy, about what had happened or was happened in the country. They were poets who set their observations and information to music, thereby taking on the role of journalist in the narration of events.
During the Vietnam War music served to drive the emotions of the time, with such notables in the folk music world as Pete Seeger, Joan Baez, Bob Dylan and others. Writing and performing songs of protest. Earlier, Joan Baez had stood beside Martin Luther King providing her music as part of the backdrop of history. .
Today music continues to be a vehicle to examine events, as this song does today, among others, looking at history’s latest whistleblower and controversial figure, Edward Snowden. Is he scoundrel or hero? Some might present a protest song in order to define him, whereas this one, a modern folk song, that specifically relates the idea itself of history’s role, as scoundrel or hero, by simply providing an overview of that perception in song.