PROTEST SONGS: THE VIETNAM WAR
ROCK N’ ROLL AIN’T NO NOISE POLLUTION
September 27, 2021
Protests have been going on for as long as the human race has been functioning together as a society. From sit-ins to marches, people have taken extravagant measures to share their views on social-injustices. Musicians are no exception. Inspiring the oppressed to take action is a common result of the following music.
“War. What is it good for?” is the opening line to “War” by Edwin Starr. It set the tone for not only that song, but for many anti-war songs to come. This and most of the songs I will be mentioning in this column are a direct response to the war going on at the time: the Vietnam War.
For those who aren’t too familiar with the Vietnam War, it was costly and alienating for the U.S soldiers that returned. The one song that really encompassed the feeling that the returning soldiers probably felt, both over in Vietnam and when they returned to America, is “Rooster” by Alice in Chains. Although this song wasn’t released at the time of this war, it still narrates the harsh life that those men had to endure.
One memorable line:
Walkin’ tall machine gun man
They spit on me in my homeland
Gloria sent me pictures of my boy
Another song to protest the Vietnam war is “Fortunate Son” by Creedence Clearwater Revival. Written by the lead singer, John Fogerty, this track was written when the singer was faced with the possibility of being drafted overseas. During this war, those of lower class were drafted over those in the upper class. This is a protest against not only the Vietnam war, but the discrimination among social classes.
A memorable line:
Yeah, some folks inherit star-spangled eyes
They send you down to war
And when you ask ’em, “How much should we give?”
They only answer, “More, more, more”
The next song, which is perhaps one of my personal favorites on the list, is a track from the band Black Sabbath, appropriately dubbed, “War Pigs.” At the time, this band was seen as the embodiment of evil, and those who were against the band were very shocked to hear that Black Sabbath made a song condemning war, instead of promoting violence. The lyrics stand against the politicians that decide the stance a country has on the war while they hide away in the safety of their own home.
Another memorable line:
Time will tell on their power minds
Making war just for fun
Treating people just like pawns in chess
Wait till their judgement day comes, yeah!
The last song I’ll be talking about is one by John Lennon, titled “Imagine.” It was a different tone, but the message was still the same. Instead of condemning those who force the war upon the citizens, this calls for peace and unity amongst everyone.
The final memorable line:
Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion, too
The Vietnam War was horrible to those who served in it. Not only were the soldiers exposed to terrors during battle, but they were rejected and discriminated against by the protesters when they came home. Calling for change and giving hope, the songs above inspired the people to persevere.