Occupy Wall Street compilation to benefit movement


By Jessica Cabe

In September, a nation once condemned for its apathy spawned one of the biggest sociopolitical movements in the past fifty years.

Occupy Wall Street has grown into an international protest calling for progressive reformation of the relationship between government, corporations and the working class.

Just like any high-profile protest, from the Civil Rights Movement to the hippie subculture, music plays a huge role in the Occupy Movement.

“Music unifies and brings people together,” said Occupy Rockford member Jen Maddison. “Music in Occupy is a great way to have a positive rally to build bridges with the community, and it helps us diversify instead of just having protests and being against things in the public eye.”

Soon, sympathizers will not have to attend protests to experience protest music. Occupy This Album: A Compilation of Music By, For and Inspired By the Occupy Wall Street Movement and the 99% will be released May 15.

The album will be available in a four-disc physical format with 78 tracks. It will also be available as a digital download with 99 tracks and one hidden track. Among the contributors are Willie Nelson, Patti Smith, Debbie Harry and Yoko Ono.

All the proceeds from this album will go directly to the Occupy movement.

“Occupy needs funding for bail, if necessary; for permits, if necessary,” Maddison said. “Sometimes funding is needed for supplies to plan direct action, but mostly we beg and borrow those things from each other and the local community.”

The story behind Occupy This Album is a unique one. Jason Samel, a self-described artist, entrepreneur and family man, went to Zuccotti Park three days into the Occupy movement and found Matt Pless playing his guitar and singing on the street.

“I was playing for a crowd of people on the steps at Zuccotti Park,” Pless said. “Jason came up and asked me for my contact information. I didn’t have a card, so I wrote my name on a piece of cardboard and told him to look me up on the Internet.”

After seeing Pless perform on the street, Samel had the idea to create a compilation album for the movement, and Occupy This Album was born.

Sebastian Hentbrook, senior political science major and vice president of College Republicans, thinks it is a good thing when celebrities make their opinions known in regard to political topics.

“Celebrities have influence over the young and popular culture, and that can have an effect at causing change in our country,” Hentbrook said. “Young people aren’t always in tune to politics, but they listen to their heroes.”

Despite instances of violence and vandalism, the movement is mostly peaceful. Yet there are still people who oppose Occupy because they think it lacks structure and has a lax definition of what the protest is trying to accomplish.

Pless does not feel this so-called disorganization is a bad thing.

“People want to work toward making a better world, but they have varying opinions of what is required to accomplish this,” Pless said. “I think Occupy, in my opinion, is more or less an umbrella name for people to rally under in order to discuss new and alternative ways of living, behaving and learning.”