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Readers’ Poll: The 10 Best Protest Songs of All Time

The greatest activist anthems from artists like Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Rage Against the Machine

Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young

Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, the group behind protest classic "Ohio."

Michael Ochs Archives/Getty

The Ferguson grand jury's recent decision not to indict former police officer Darren Wilson in the death of Michael Brown kicked off a storm of protest all across America. Because of this, we figured it was a good time to poll our readers and determine their favorite protest songs. Needless to say, most of them came from the 1960s and early 1970s. Here are the results.

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Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, ‘Ohio’

Days after the Kent State massacre, Neil Young saw a photo of 14-year-old Mary Ann Vecchio kneeling over the dead body of college student Jeffrey Miller. He poured his rage and sorrow into the lyrics to "Ohio" and called his Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young bandmates into the studio the following day to record the new song. Even though "Teach Your Children" was all over the radio, the label rushed the finished product out, and it was playing over the air before week's end. CSNY broke up just a few months later, making "Ohio" their furious final statement – at least until the many reunion tours.

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Bob Dylan, ‘Masters of War’

The very week that Bob Dylan arrived in New York City, outgoing president Dwight Eisenhower warned the country about the dangers of the "military-industrial complex." His words were largely ignored, and just two years later the world was even closer to nuclear war. Meanwhile, the arms industry was making a fortune and spreading money all over Washington, D.C. The situation enraged Dylan, and he funneled this anger into the caustic "Masters of War." "I hope you die and your death will come soon," he wrote. "I'll follow your casket in the pale afternoon and I'll watch while you're lowered to your death bed and I'll stand over your grave 'til I'm sure that you're dead." It's hard to get much harsher than that.

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