“The thing just sucked me in,” Marcus said Friday during a panel about protest and community at the Aspen Ideas Festival, which is cosponsored by The Atlantic and the Aspen Institute. “I found myself hearing and memorizing every word.”
So he called up the radio station and found out what song it was: “It Isn’t Nice,” released by Barbara Dane and the Chambers Brothers in 1966.
Marcus knew about the Chambers Brothers, a ’60s soul band. Only five years ago, Lester Chambers had dedicated a song in concert to Trayvon Martin—and was swiftly attacked by an angry woman in the audience. Marcus also knew about Barbara Dane. He’d remembered her from anti-war rallies at UC Berkeley, “when she would get up and sing these hortatory songs—you have to do this, you have to do that, this is right, and that is wrong—with almost no musical feeling in them” he recalled. “And here she is wailing like Dion in ‘Lovers Who Wander’ or something.”