The Common Good

Protest Songs, Revisited: New Campaign from ONE Features Mumford & Sons, U2, and More

U2 performs in Milan, Italy. Photo courtesy Valeria73/

The ONE Campaign, co-founded by music legend Bono of U2, has launched a new platform to promote global messages of social justice, women’s rights, and putting an end to apartheid, war and poverty — just to name a few.

The campaign, agit8, features new covers of famous protest songs throughout history by contemporary musicians ranging from Mumford & Sons to Greenday.

With the stated goal of ending poverty by 2030, agit8 is timed to coincide with the upcoming G8 summit next week. Noting the impact protest music has had on American history, agit8 encourages artists to “get on their soapbox” and amplify “the voices of those who spoke up for social change throughout history.”

Take a listen:

In an effort to expose the hardship of those living during the Great Depression, music phenomenon Bruce Springsteen originally wrote and recorded “The Ghost of Tom Joad.” The track was based off John Steinbeck’s classic novel The Grapes of Wrath and praises the importance of "keeping the faith” in times of struggle and misfortune. Mumford and Sons teamed up with Elvis Costello for a fresh cover of “Joad,” one that speaks to economic challenges, new and familiar, in our country today.

“When the Saints Go Marching In,” originally recorded by Louis Armstrong and his Orchestra in 1938, has been a staple hymn in schools, churches, homes, stadiums and theatres across the country for nearly a century. TheDupont Brass Band of Wash., D.C., covers this tune, one that continues to represent the challenges, triumphs, and hopes for our nation.


Irish megaband U2 honored the victims of the ongoing conflict between Catholics and Protestants of Northern Ireland in their 1982 hit, “Sunday Bloody Sunday.” Written and recorded by Bono, the Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr., “Sunday” grabbed the attention of fans worldwide as an anthem lamenting deadly conflicts fueled by religious prejudice and political extremism.

Katie Anderson is a summer Web Assistant for Sojourners.

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