When Chumbawamba broke up a year and a half ago, I was pretty much alone in my mourning. Most people were surprised that they hadn't broken up long before this, since they are widely regarded as a one hit wonder for the song Tubthumper, released in 1997.
I hate to admit it, but that song, that album, that introduced me to them. My parents liked the song, bought the CD, and didn't really like the rest of the album. I think that just the fact my parents didn't want me to listen to it because it had swear words in it is what first piqued my curiosity. Anyway, I listened to it over and over and I enjoyed that I could avoid the not totally widespread "PARENTAL ADVISORY" sticker by buying more Chumbawamba albums, who were too under the radar to warrant a music store clerk's attention.
I also remember the album notes for it had to all be taken out because they couldn't get the rights to print what they wanted, but you could find them online. Another way for a teen in Neenah, Wisconsin to fight the man.
I've always enjoyed their music since then. I love their blend of punk, anarchist lyrics and poppy music. I love their tributes to events and people I wouldn't hear about otherwise. And their lyrics, their music, are still very topical today.
So anyway, here, in no particular order, are my top 10 favorite Chumbawamba songs.
Everything You Know Is Wrong, Un, 2004 - The lyrics on this one detail a bunch of conspiracies/secrets that the singer has been in the middle of. It's cute, incredibly catchy and fun. This song will forever remind me of driving on the highway in the summer, belting it out at the top of my lungs. Look for a performance on 35W this summer.
El Fusilado, The Boy Bands Have Won, 2008 - The peppiest song about a firing squad. It covers the tale of Wenseslao Moguel, who was shot 9 times, once in the head, and still survived and managed to escape. The song tells this story, celebrating determination and survivalhood with fingers snapping in the background the entire time.
You Can (Mass Trespass, 1932), A Singsong and a Scrap, 2005 - This song was written about an act of civil disobedence in 1932, but the lyrics play in my head when I watch footage of the Occupy or Black Lives Matter movements. Highly singable and upbeat.
By & By, A Singsong and a Scrap, 2005 - This one is specifically about Joe Hill, but the lyrics are powerful for the non-religions person tired of the pressure to put religion into a funeral. I want this played at my funeral.
Waiting for the Bus, The Boy Bands Have Won, 2008 - A song about wrongful imprisonment by a racist justice system. The lyrics in this flow together, the feeling of unfairness and sadness captured in the telling. The subject of the song, Gary Tyler, is still in jail.
Homophobia, Anarchy, 1994 - This song details an anti-gay hate crime. I remember listening to this song in high school. It helped shape my awareness about gay rights at a time when information on it was hard to come by. It's a sad song, but it helped me know that it was a wider issue with people suffering consequences far beyond (luckily) anything I saw personally.
Torturing James Hetfield, ABCDEFG, 2010 - A revenge fantasy against James Hetfield for his approval of Metallica's music being used as torture in Guantanamo Bay. Another oddly happy song where they poke fun of themselves. I really love the lyrics on this one too.
Sing About Love, The Boy Bands Have Won, 2008 - A simple song detailing how feels to write and perform music about sadness and war for so long. When I hear the tired complaint "I wish people wouldn't bring gender/race/etc into everything," this song comes to mind. We all wish we could just talk about happy things, but for a lot of us, the sad things are too much to ignore.
Stitch That, Shhh, 1992 - A song about revenge after domestic violence. Another peppy, upbeat song about a sad subject with an oddly empowering end.
The Day The Nazi Died, Homophobia Single, 1994 - I love the beat, I love the lyrics, and the message - that even then, and even now, there are still Nazis around, and we shouldn't think of them as simply a part of history.