Music has always been a great encapsulator of time and place - when someone makes an historical documentary or drama, for example, it is a powerful aid to play music in the background relevant to the events and times depicted in order to immediately evoke an atmosphere of presence and impart a reality to the story being presented. But sometimes music has stepped out of that background to take central stage in history itself; it has become a player in the unfolding drama and a catalyst for historical change - on occasion great change.
To take one example: in April 1974 the Portuguese dictatorship established by Salazar (now headed by Prime Minister Caetano) seemed, to the bulk of the population and the world at large, as impregnable and permanent as ever. What the Portuguese public could not know however was that for two months a small group of military officers had been secretly plotting to stage a coup. Their intentions are still a subject of debate, seeming to range from a simple takeover of the dictatorship's hierarchy to its complete abolition. What could not have been predicted by any of them was the public's response. When the coup was finally put in motion on the 25th the streets were immediately filled with hundreds of thousands of citizens, at first interpreted as a spontaneous but directionless movement, but which quickly developed, as the "Carnation revolution" continued, into an emphatic demand for democracy.
One signal for that coup was a pre-arranged playing on the radio of that year's Portuguese entry in the forthcoming Eurovision Song Contest " "E depois do adeus" sung by Paulo de Carvalho. The song itself was to finish joint last in the competition a few weeks later but to the Portuguese this mattered little. Its place in their country's history had been secured.
The other signal used was also a song - this time by the then banned folk singer Zeca Alonso whose rendition of "Grandola, Vila Morena" was the cue for the coup leaders to announce to the public they had ousted the old regime.
Other songs spring to mind which were more specifically written to effect change, and others which played that role accidentally, though few maybe with quite as sudden an effect as that above. Are there any which you feel maybe deserve a place on this list of music as political or social catalysts of change?