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David Rovics

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David Rovics
Rovics in 2013
Rovics in 2013
Background information
Born (1967-04-10) April 10, 1967 (age 57)
OriginNew York City, U.S.
Years active1992–present

David Stefan Rovics (/ˈrvɪks/ ROH-viks;[1] born April 10, 1967) is an American indie singer/songwriter. His music concerns both topical subjects such as the 2003 Iraq war, anti-globalization, anarchism, and social justice issues, and also labor history. Rovics has been an outspoken critic of former President George W. Bush, the Republican Party, John Kerry, and the Democratic Party.

Rovics is critical of the United States government's policies and claims that the "U.S. government's foreign policy represents U.S. corporate interests" and that "the U.S. government does not like democracy either at home or abroad."[2]

Although some of Rovics' work is not self-published, and much of it is commercially distributed, Rovics has made all of his recorded music freely available as downloadable mp3 files. He encourages the free distribution of his work by all non-profit means to promote his work and spread political messages, and speaks out against websites or programs like iTunes that charge money for downloading his songs. Rovics has also advocated the performing of his songs at protests and demonstrations and has made his sheet music and lyrics available for download.[3]



David Rovics was born in New York City. His family moved to Wilton, Connecticut when he was young. Rovics was politically inspired during his adolescence by his experiences with the conservative-oriented, Christian milieu of his home town. His parents, both classical musicians[4] and educators, were liberal in their outlook. Perhaps for this reason, while in his teens Rovics acquired interests in nuclear disarmament, vegetarianism and other counterculture issues. He has described himself as an "anti-Zionist Jew from New York".[5]

In 1985, Rovics enrolled at Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana, but dropped out and moved to Berkeley, California. He worked in occupations such as a cook, barista, secretary and typist, while pursuing his musical interests as a street and subway performer and in small clubs and bars. He immersed himself in leftist counterculture and made contact with other songwriters and performers on the underground circuit. By the early 1990s he was a full-time busker in the Boston subways.[4]

From the mid-1990s, Rovics has spent most of his time on concert tours around the world.[4] Rovics tours regularly on four continents, playing for audiences large and small at cafes, pubs, universities, churches, union halls and protest rallies. He has had his music featured on Democracy Now!, the BBC, Al-Jazeera, Acik Radyo and other networks. His essays are published regularly on CounterPunch and Truthout and the 200+ songs he makes available on the web have been downloaded more than a million times.[4] Although Rovics' work has not gained major commercial success, it has been acclaimed in sections of the press.[6][7][8][9]

He currently lives in Portland, Oregon with his family[4] and has a daughter, Leila, who was born in 2006.[10]

Political activism

Interview with David Rovics on Talk Nation Radio dealing with the politics of music.

Rovics has also written a song on Francis Hughes, a Provisional IRA combatant who died in the 1981 Irish Hunger Strike, in his song "Up The Provos".[11]

In 2021, Rovics interviewed white nationalist activist Matthew Heimbach and posted it on his YouTube account, hosted a conversation with musician Gilad Atzmon on the same account, and appeared on the podcast of conspiracy theorist Kevin Barrett.[12] As a result, Rovics has been accused by anti-fascists It's Going Down and Shane Burley of promotion of individuals associated with white nationalism, Holocaust denial and antisemitism.[13][14] Rovics temporarily removed the interview with Heimbach from his site, but responded that Atzmon is not an antisemite and Heimbach not a fascist, and that it is important to understand why people are drawn to the far-right.[15][16][17]


  • Make It So (Self-release, 1996)
  • Pay Day at Coal Creek (Self-release, 1998)
  • We Just Want the World (Liberation Records, 1999)
  • Live at Club Passim (Liberation Records, 2000)
  • Living In These Times (Liberation Records, 2001)
  • Hang a Flag In the Window (Liberation Records, 2002)
  • Who Would Jesus Bomb? (Self-release, 2003)
  • Behind the Barricades, the Best of David Rovics (AK Press/Daemon Records 2003)
  • The Return (Ever Reviled Records, 2003)
  • Songs for Mahmud (Ever Reviled Records, 2004)
  • Beyond the Mall (Self-release, 2004)
  • For the Moment (Yoyo Records, 2005)[18]
  • Halliburton Boardroom Massacre (MI5 Records/Caroline Distribution, 2006)[19]
  • The Commons (Irregular Records, 2007) Recorded live at Club Passim
  • Ten Thousand Miles Away (Liberation Records, 2009)
  • Waiting for the Fall - A Retrospective (Liberation Records, 2009)
  • Troubador: People's History in Song (Liberation Records, 2010)
  • Big Red Sessions (Liberation Records, 2011)
  • Ten New Songs (2011) (Liberation Records, 2011)
  • Meanwhile In Afghanistan (Liberation Records, 2012)
  • 99% (Liberation Records, 2012)
  • Spies Are Reading My Blog (Liberation Records, 2013)
  • A Coup That Wasn't A Coup (Aug 17, 2013)
  • Everything Can Change (Liberation Records, 2013)
  • Into A Prism (Liberation Records, 2013)
  • Falasteen Habibti (Self-release, 2014)
  • All the News That's Fit to Sing (Self-release, 2014)
  • When I'm Elected President / Wayfaring Stranger (Self-release, 2014)
  • The Other Side (Self-release, 2015)
  • 1936 (Self-Release, 2016)
  • Letter to My Landlord (Self-Release, 2016)
  • Spies are Reading My Blog (Self-Release, 2017)
  • Punk Baroque (Self-Release, 2017)
  • Ballad of a Wobbly (Self-Release, 2018)
  • Historic Times (Self-Release, 2019)
  • Meanwhile in Afghanistan (Self-Release, 2019)[20]
  • Songs for Today (Self-Release, 2019)
  • Strangers and Friends (Self-Release, 2019)
  • Notes From a Failed State (Self-Release, 2020)
  • Say Their Names (Self-Release, 2020)
  • Rebel Songs (Free The Imagination) (Self-Release, 2020)
  • It's Been a Year (Self-Release, 2021)
  • May Day (Self-Release, 2021)
  • Notes From A Holocaust (Self-Release, 2023)[21]

Children's albums

  • Har Har Har! Pirate Songs for Kids (CD Baby.Com/Indys, 2008)
  • Ballad of a Dung Beetle (2011)

See also



  1. ^ "Folklife: Interview with David Rovics Singer Songwriter". YouTube. July 11, 2012. Retrieved January 16, 2023.
  2. ^ "tlaxcala". Archived from the original on October 18, 2013.
  3. ^ "David Rovics - Download Songbook". Progressive @rt & Design. Archived from the original on June 18, 2021. Retrieved June 16, 2011.
  4. ^ a b c d e "David Rovics Biography". David Rovics. Archived from the original on January 11, 2015. Retrieved June 16, 2011.
  5. ^ Rovics, David (September 23, 2013). "The Antideutsch and Me: An Open Letter to the German Left".
  6. ^ "Review: Return". Acousticmusic.com. Retrieved June 16, 2011.
  7. ^ Jasmin. "The Social Significance of David Rovics". The Pulse. Archived from the original on August 25, 2011. Retrieved June 16, 2011.
  8. ^ Emerick, Katie. "Rabble rouser for the new left". Anchorage Press. Archived from the original on January 16, 2013. Retrieved June 16, 2011.
  9. ^ "David Rovics". Time Out Hong Kong. Archived from the original on 4 October 2011. Retrieved 16 June 2011.
  10. ^ Dineen, Matt (September 2006). "The Soundtrack to Protest: An interview with David Rovics". ZNet. Archived from the original on 5 October 2006. Retrieved 16 June 2011.
  11. ^ "Up The Provos". Retrieved March 31, 2020.
  12. ^ Tenold, Vegas (February 20, 2018). Everything You Love Will Burn. Bold Type Books. ISBN 978-1-56858-995-4.
  13. ^ ""No, It Is the Children Who Are Wrong": A Response to David Rovics". It's Going Down. August 11, 2021. Retrieved March 27, 2023.
  14. ^ Burley, Shane (April 24, 2022). "The Gilad Atzmon and David Rovics Antisemitism Controversy, Explained". Retrieved March 27, 2023.
  15. ^ Rovics, David (July 16, 2021). "The Campaign Against Me". This Week with David Rovics. Archived from the original on July 17, 2021. Retrieved July 17, 2021.
  16. ^ Rovics, David (January 31, 2021). "Platforming Fascists". PM Press. Retrieved March 27, 2023.
  17. ^ Burley, Shane (March 19, 2023). "Fascists Are Attempting to Win Followers by Rebranding as Antiwar". Truthout. Retrieved March 27, 2023.
  18. ^ Lankford, Ronnie D. Jr. "David Rovics - For the Moment". AllMusic. Retrieved January 22, 2023.
  19. ^ Brown, Alan (April 5, 2007). "David Rovics: Halliburton Boardroom Massacre". PopMatters. Retrieved January 22, 2023.
  20. ^ Altman, Ross. "David Rovics - Meanwhile in Afghanistan". FolkWorks. Retrieved January 22, 2023.
  21. ^ Rovics, David. "Palestine – David Rovics -Singer/Songwriter". Retrieved January 7, 2024.

Further reading