Sometimes called the “Vietnam Song,” Country Joe & the Fish’s rendition of “Feel Like I’m Fixin to Die” was one of the signature moments at Woodstock. “War” – Edwin Starr (1970) – A clear anti-war song which rose in popularity at the height of the Vietnam War. Most Vietnam songs released during Kennedy’s presidency articulated a reluctance to be drafted. I Feel Like I’m Fixin to Die Rag by Country Joe & The Fish. Originally a protest song during the Civil Rights Movement in … (1965, re-released 1967) Misunderstood … During that time and still today most popular rock and country music was and is anti-war and pro-war music that expressed the opinions of many Americans. The war inspired many protest songs, some of which alluded to Vietnam more directly than others. It still feels fresh fifty years later. Barry McGuire, “Eve of Destruction” (1965). Vietnam has continued to inspire songwriters long after the last U.S. helicopters were pushed into the East Vietnam Sea, but my interest here is in songs recorded during the war. will examine various Vietnam protest songs to discover reasons why many Americans were against the Vietnam War. He wanted to protest the fact that not everyone would bear the burden of the war: “Some folks are born, silver spoon in hand.” In 2014, the Library of Congress added “Fortunate Son” to the National Recording Registry for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”. Matt is the Culture Editor at Esquire where he covers music, movies, books, and TV—with an emphasis on all things Star Wars, Marvel, and Game of Thrones. Berry Gordy, the founder of Motown Records and Gaye’s then brother-in-law, called “What’s Going On” the “worst thing I ever heard in my life.” Fortunately, a Motown sales executive disregarded his judgment and got the song into record stores. Rolling Stone magazine ranked “What’s Going On” number four on its list of the top 500 songs of all-time. Still an obscure Detroit rocker at the time, Seger warned of a war that leaves young men “buried in the mud, off in a foreign jungle land.” The song reflected a change of heart on his part. Rolling Stone magazine ranked “Blowin’ in the Wind” number fourteen on its list of the top 500 songs of all-time. The end of the Vietnam War, Watergate, environmental concerns, and the Kent State shootings informed the nation’s unrest. The chorus is infectious: “and it’s 1, 2, 3 what are we fighting for?/Don’t ask me, I don’t give a damn, next stop is Vietnam.”. Don't ask me I don't give a damn! This song was anti-war because it describes various protests and contains the lyrical line "I know we're all … "If you want to end war and stuff you got to sing loud / I've been singing this song now for twenty five minutes. Bob Dylan hailed “Vietnam” as “the greatest protest song ever written.” The lyrics are simple; the story is powerfully sad. It answers the driving question, "How does war effect society"; The citizens of the US are so against the Vietnam War that they protest it, however it turns into police violence. During the Vietnam War music played a major role in the anti-war efforts. Other songs expressed the heartache of those at home, with a subtext of protest, such as Freda Payne’s melodious “Bring the Boys Home” (1971) and Martha and the Vandellas’s “I Should Be Proud” (1970): Ochs’s Draft Dodger Rag was covered in 1965 by another major protest son… Pete Seeger, “Waist Deep in the Big Muddy” (1967). John Lennon, “Imagine” (1971). "How many dead men will it take / To build a dike that will not break? So my apologies to fans of George Harrison (“Give Me Love”), Steppenwolf ( “Monster”), The Doors (“The Unknown Soldier), or Bo Donaldson and the Heywoods (“Billy Don’t Be a Hero”), among others. Every product was carefully curated by an Esquire editor. Simone transformed a civil rights poem by Langston Hughes into a Vietnam War protest song. Five months later, half a million people sang “Give Peace a Chance” at a protest rally against President Richard Nixon and the Vietnam War. The Vietnam War gave protest music a greater importance to listeners, even if the songs did not explicitly discuss the war. The message: Geezer Butler said in Martin Popoff’s … "The War Song" Culture Club: 1972 "War Song" Neil Young and Graham Nash: 2006 "War … “Well here I sit in this rice paddy/Wondering about Big Daddy/And I know that Lyndon loves me so./Yet how sadly I remember/Way back yonder in November/When he said I’d never have to go.” In 2007, Paxton rewrote the song as “George W. Told the Nation.”, Pete Seeger, “Bring ‘em Home” (1966). Sunday marks fifty years since the first U.S. combat troops arrived in South Vietnam. This lesson fits into a unit about the Vietnam War as a way to bring attention to American opposition of the United State’s presence in Vietnam and surrounding countries, and should be implemented after the students have a good Many R&B and soul … Combat Troops Arrive in Vietnam”. Anti-war and pro-war songs were used during protests, specifically rock and country songs. We may earn a commission from these links. Too bad for The Temptations. McGuire recorded “Eve of Destruction” in one take in spring 1965. Often great art is produced in the hardest of times, and some of the most iconic music of the 20th century was produced during the 1960s and early 1970s in protest of America's involvement in the Vietnam War. 6. Guthrie’s call to resist the draft and end the war in Vietnam is unusual in two respects: it’s great length (18 minutes) and the fact that it is mostly a spoken monologue. Lennon’s first solo single after leaving The Beatles hit number 14 on the Billboard charts despite being recorded in one take in June 1969 while he and wife Yoko Ono were holding a “bed-in” in Montreal. Vietnam War Protests Influenced Popular Music America’s involvement in Vietnam started slowly - only 5,000 soldiers in 1960. Born in the USA (1984) – The Bruce Springsteen single from the biggest selling album of 1985 was … 5. He opposed American involvement in the Vietnam War from the start, making his sentiment abundantly clear: “bring ‘em home, bring ‘em home.”, Arlo Guthrie, “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree” (1967). Billie Holiday, “Strange Fruit” This track has to be at the top of the list; it’s that influential. Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young, “Ohio” (1970). The song still managed to peak at number 14 on the U.S. McGuire’s impassioned rendition of the song’s incendiary lyrics—“You’re old enough to kill, but not for votin’”—helps explain its popularity. John Fogerty, CCR’s lead singer, says he was prompted to write “Fortunate Son” after seeing news coverage of the wedding of David Eisenhower and Julie Nixon. The Bob Seger System, “2+2=?” (1968). Artists like Marvin Gaye, George Harrison, Joan Baez, and Arlo Guthrie spoke out against a war that took nearly 60,000 American lives. “War” got straight to the point: “War, huh yeah/What is it good for?/Absolutely nothing, oh hoh, oh.” The song was originally written for The Temptations to release as a single but that idea got nixed out of fear of alienating the group’s fans. With that caveat out of the way, here are my twenty picks for best protest songs in order of the year they were released. "Draft Dodger Rag" - Phil Ochs. Two years earlier he recorded “The Ballad of the Yellow Beret,” which begins “This is a protest against protesters.”, Creedence Clearwater Revival, “Fortunate Son” (1969). Combat Troops Arrive in Vietnam. / How many children must we kill / Before we make the waves stand still? And songs were an important part of that protest. Rolling Stone magazine ranked “Imagine” number three on its list of the top 500 songs of all-time. The chorus “Tin soldiers and Nixon coming/We’re finally on our own/This summer I hear the drumming/Four dead in Ohio” kept the song off many AM radio station playlists. During the Vietnam conflict, soul music accompanied both the anti-war movement and the overlapping struggle for black civil rights. Buffalo Springfield - "For What It's Worth". To mark the anniversary of the war that changed America, I am doing a series of posts on the best histories, memoirs, movies, and novels about Vietnam. : The Bob Seger System. Needless to say, most of them came … Today’s topic is protest songs. One of the … Paxton criticizes President Lyndon Johnson for promising peace on the campaign trail and then sending troops to Vietnam. The Best Vietnam Protest Songs. In “What Are You Fighting For,” he warns listeners about “the war machine right beside your home.” Ochs, who battled alcoholism and bipolar disorder, committed suicide in 1976. Public protests eventually forced CBS to reverse course, and Seeger sang “Waist Deep in the Big Muddy” in a February 1968 episode of the show. Jimmy Cliff, “Vietnam” (1970). • "Bà Mẹ Phù Sa" (all you need is love) Phạm Duy [about a peasant woman who hides a government agent when she sees a Vietcong, and in turn hides the Vietcong when she sees a government platoon coming.] All I know is that I'm young and your rules they are old. Dylan debuted a partially written “Blowin’ in the Wind” in Greenwich Village in 1962 by telling the audience, “This here ain’t no protest song or anything like that, ‘cause I don’t write no protest songs.” “Blowin’ in the Wind” went on to become possibly the most famous protest song ever, an iconic part of the Vietnam era. Although the Vietnam War lasted from 1955 to 1975, the conflict escalated throughout the 1960s, as did the anti-war sentiment. In the war’s early stages, protest songs voiced the concerns of a minority movement. “Give Me Love (Peace on Earth)” – George Harrison (1973) – While written about the war in Bangladesh, the song became an anthem of peace at the end of the Vietnam War. John Lennon, “Give Peace a Chance” (1969). The lyrics talk about the dying of many Vietnam soldiers that were dying in the war. We Shall Overcome – Joan Baez 1963. James M. Lindsay. I could sing it / For another twenty five minutes. Neil Young wrote “Ohio” in reaction to the Kent State University shootings on May 4, 1970 that left four students dead. Best Rock Songs Vietnam War Music | Best Rock Music Of All Time | 60s and 70s Rock Playlist , 60s rock , 70s rock , rock music rock songs , rock playlist , ", Nina Simone, “Backlash Blues” (1967). 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Oscar-winner Lou Gossett, Jr. co-wrote the song about “Handsome Johnny with an M15 marching to the Vietnam War.” Havens’s rendition of the song at Woodstock is an iconic moment from the 1960s. '2 + 2 = ?' Below is/was the main tune sung at many war protest rallies. Although it peaked at number three on the Billboard top 100 charts, BMI ranked it the 96th most played song on radio in the twentieth century, the only song on this list to make the top one hundred. Much as poetry provides a window into the Allied mood during World War I, anti-war songs provide a window into the mood of the 1960s. “War” reached number one on the Billboard charts and ranked number five overall for 1970. 10 Protest Songs to Remember Richard Nixon, How Ken Burns Chose the Music for 'Vietnam'. Marvin Gaye, “What’s Going On” (1971). Everyone understood the allusion to Vietnam, and CBS cut the song from a September 1967 episode of the Smothers Brother Comedy Show. Because of this, we figured it was a good time to poll our readers and determine their favorite protest songs. Ochs’s song of a soldier who has grown sick of fighting was one of the first to highlight the generational divide that came to grip the country: “It’s always the old to lead us to the war/It’s always the young to fall.”, Tom Paxton, “Lyndon Told the Nation” (1965). Seeger, who died last year at the age of ninety-four, was one of the all-time greats in folk music. The oldest protest song on record is "The Cutty Wren" from the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381 against feudal oppression, nearly six hundred years ago (Songs of Work and Protest 9). An unnamed narrator says goodbye to his Saigon bride—which could be meant literally or figuratively—to fight an enemy for reasons that “will not matter when we’re dead.”, Country Joe & the Fish, “Feel Like I’m Fixin’ to Die” (1967). In 1962, the Yes, I know. 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The Vietnam war spurred a protest movement that spread among the student movement in the 1960s. So as much as I love Bruce Springsteen (“Born in the USA”) and Billy Joel (“Goodnight Saigon”), their songs don’t make this list. Lenon originally wrote the song as an anti-war movement song in general, because of the time of its release and rise to popularity in the time of Anti-Vietnam war protests many people apply the song to the Anti-Vietnam War movement as well. Sign up for a morning roundup of news and analysis from around the world. For more suggested resources on the Vietnam War, check out the other posts in this series: • “The Best Histories of the Vietnam War”, • “The Ten Best Memoirs of the Vietnam War”, • “TWE Remembers: The First U.S. Protest music has developed over the years and has made its presence in history. So at first, people in the U.S. weren’t paying very close attention. As a class, they might then create an annotated playlist or a podcast that features discussion by the students and snippets of each of the songs. These songs were … Black Sabbath – ‘War Pigs’ War: Vietnam War. I left a lot of great songs off this list. These are the best Vietnam protest songs. Next stop is Viet Nam. Bob Dylan, “Blowin’ in the Wind” (1963). This song was made after the year of the most Vietnam casualties in 1968. He's part of a cadre of musicians and other celebrities who have championed social causes. Phil Ochs’ “I Ain’t Marching Anymore” (August 1965) This rousing number leads us through a litany … Simone transformed a civil rights poem by Langston Hughes into a Vietnam War protest song. “Raise my taxes/Freeze my wages/Send my son to Vietnam.”, Joan Baez, “Saigon Bride” (1967). Blog Post by Feel free to list your favorites that I overlooked in the comments below. His songs included I Ain’t Marchin No More and the Draft Dodger Rag.Ochs often used humor to get his message across. If I've got … It was one of anger, alienation, and defiance. The protest music of Vietnam War is the concentration of this paper. Richie Havens, “Handsome Johnny” (1967). Ochs wrote numerous protest songs during the 1960s and 1970s. Music is central to Ken Burns’s new Vietnam War documentary, with an original score accompanied by samples of the era’s most popular musicians, from the Rolling Stones to Bob Dylan. Who says that a protest song can’t be funny? The Animals’ hit song, “We Gotta Get Out of This Place” (1965), was not intended as an antiwar song but nonetheless became a theme song for U.S. soldiers in Vietnam longing to go home. Phil Ochs, “What Are You Fighting For” (1963). Esquire participates in various affiliate marketing programs, which means we may get paid commissions on editorially chosen products purchased through our links to retailer sites. For some radio stations it is a Thanksgiving tradition to play "Alice’s Restaurant Massacree. Edwin Starr, “War” (1970). Bob Dylan: ‘Masters Of War’ (1963) While plenty of Dylan’s early forays into politicized writing leave … Create an Annotated Playlist or Podcast of Protest Music That Matters to You: Throughout the unit or as a culminating project, invite students to bring in protest songs that matter to them, from any era and about any topic. The need for peace of necessary due to the fact that many mothers and fathers were losing their young sons to a war that was fought purely for the interests of the United States. 4. last U.S. helicopters were pushed into the East Vietnam Sea, the wedding of David Eisenhower and Julie Nixon, TWE Remembers: The First U.S. One of the major protest songwriters of the period was American singer-songwriter, Phil Ochs. Phil Ochs, I Ain’t Marching Anymore (1965). 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