Tag Archives: Protest music

Eric Burdon Animals Sky Pilot

Eric Burdon Animals Sky Pilot

July 1968

Eric Burdon

Eric Burdon with the Animals were part of the British Invasion in 1964. Their “House of the Rising Sun” stuck an earworm into  American teenagers’ heads that still resides there. What Boomer can hear those first few guitar notes without immediately recognizing the song? Perhaps it was one of the first licks you learned on guitar? (click and see!)

American blues dominated the Animals’ early albums, but like Bob Dylan’s job on Maggie’s farm and John Lennon’s Norwegian wood lover, Eric Burdon did not stay with the girl he brung to the dance.

Eric Burdon Animals Sky Pilot

Eric Burdon & the Animals

With his release of Winds of Change (the title echoing,  of course, Dylan’s “The Times They Are a-Changin” as well as his line in “Subterranean Homesick Blues,” “you don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows”), Burdon allowed the times to change his content.

Such compositions as “The Black Plague” and “San Franciscan Nights” signaled those changes.

The Twain Shall Meet

Eric Burdon Animals Sky Pilot

1968. The Vietnam war raged and demonstrations regularly filled streets. Campuses seemed to have become places to sit in to protest, not to sit in a desk.

In May, MGM record released Eric Burdon and the Animals single, “Sky Pilot.” The following month, the song would be part of the “The Twain Shall Meet” album.

Even more than the popular “Monterey” on that album [Burdon’s reflections on the Monterey Pop Festival, an event he and the Animals performed at], “Sky Pilot” is the album’s strongest song.

Sky Pilot

Eric Burdon Animals Sky Pilot

He blesses the boys

As they stand in line

The smell of gun grease

And the bayonets they shine

He’s there to help them

All that he can

To make them feel wanted

He’s a good holy man

In some ways the song is as powerful as Jimi Hendrix’s Star Spangled Banner. Hendrix’s performance declared that those who were anti-Establishment were also entitled to our nation’s anthem.

Sky Pilot” (particularly with its inclusion the traditional bag piped “All the Bluebonnets Are Over the Border”) questions not only war, but whether God was on our side, or whether God’s self-appointed representative, the Sky Pilot, was even on God’s side.

Released as a two-sided single, many radio stations stated that its length too long and style not “pop” enough.  Be that as it may, the song remains among the elite of anti-war songs.

The whole band wrote the song: Eric Burdon, Vic Briggs, John Weider, Barry Jenkins, and Danny McCulloch

Eric Burdon Animals Sky Pilot

All the Blue Bonnets

It is interesting to listen to just the bag pipes song after listening to the Animal’s song with its inclusion.

Eric Burdon Animals Sky Pilot

Change Is Gonna Come

Change Is Gonna Come

Released December 22, 1964

Change Is Gonna Come

No Change

In October 1963 Sam Cooke was touring Louisiana. He had made reservations at a Shreveport Holiday Inn, but when he, his wife, brother, and another arrived, hotel personnel told them that there were no vacancies. 

Cooke argued to no avail and left angrily. When they arrived at their next hotel, police arrested them for disturbing the peace. 

With the rebirth of the civil rights movement, Black entertainers faced a difficult decision: make a living by catering to the tastes of the majority white audience, most of whom weren’t thrilled with black activism, or musically/philosophically join the civil rights struggle and risk their livelihood.

Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ In the Wind” surprised Cooke. How could a white person write such a moving song? Cooke began to use the song in his shows.

Change Is Gonna Come

His own change

And Cooke also decided to write his own.


By December 1963 he’d written “A Change is Gonna Come.” In February he performed it live on the Johnny Carson Show (no video available), but had not yet recorded it. Two days after Cooke’s performance on the Tonight Show, the Beatles were on Ed Sullivan.

Change Is Gonna Come

RCA holds off

Cooke did not record “A Change is Gonna Come” until November 1964 and RCA did not release it until December.

Sadly, Cooke had died eleven days before on December 11, 1964. (NYT article)

Change Is Gonna Come

Change Is Gonna Come


It became one of the civil rights movement’s anthems and dozens of artists have since covered the song.

In 2005, representatives of the music industry and press voted the song number 12 in Rolling Stone magazine’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Cooke’s style and spirit continue to inspire many of today’s young artists. The New York Times Magazine recently described Leon Bridges as “The Second Coming of Sam Cooke.” (NYT article)

Change Is Gonna Come