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Lessons from History: Let down by the music industry

Today’s artists have failed to rouse our spirits during the darkest days of Covid-19
Lessons from History: Let down by the music industry
  • Who has filled the role of Dame Vera Lynn to raise our morale during the pandemic?
  • The changing way we consume music might have altered its ability to boost us in troubled times

In the past year, many parallels have been drawn between the coronavirus pandemic and wartime. Supermarkets have been compared to the front line, the NHS to the army, and those in lockdown to the home front. But who is filling the role of Vera Lynn? What rousing anthem is there to spur on the fight? On which bluebirds should we pin our hopes for a brighter tomorrow?

One music hero – who’s comparison with the army’s sweetheart is unexpected though not unreasonable – is Bob Dylan. Although he has been assuring journalists since the 1950s that he is "not a topical artist", Dylan’s music has fought in several battles on the global stage. During the Vietnam War, he made contributions to both protestors and the soldiers themselves via The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan. The album contrasts the hard-hitting anthem Masters of War with one his most recognised songs of soft desperation, in which he famously asks: ‘How many times must the cannonballs fly / Before they're forever banned?’. Many veterans cited the quiet interludes of strumming to Bob or listening to his songs on the radio, as invaluable reminders of home and happiness amidst the chaos.

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