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Sparked during the crazy, psychedelic era of the 1960s, the Vietnam War was a lengthy, bloody, and brutal confrontation. This was the time when the US military poked its nose deep into the jungles of Vietnam, entangling the fate of millions in the sprawling maze of an armed conflict that left indelible marks on the psychology of the nations involved.

The impact of the Vietnam War reverberated beyond battlefields. Not only did it shape the political landscape, but it also profoundly influenced the cultural fabric, enabling an unprecedented surge of art – most notably, music. The protest songs that came out during this period were echoing declarations of dissent, resistance, and a call for peace.

Through this article, we will gonna take you on a time-machine journey, turning the musical pages of the Vietnam War era.

These are 10 great songs that became anti-war sentiment during the Vietnam War:

 

1 – “Machine Gun” by Jimi Hendrix

An instrumental protest echoing through the chords of Jimi Hendrix’s guitar, “Machine Gun” stands as a poignant commentary on the Vietnam War. The tumultuous guitar work within the song is often described as a sonic representation of the chaotic sounds and intense emotions experienced on the battlefield.

Recorded live at the Fillmore East in New York City on January 1, 1970, as part of the Band of Gypsys’ self-titled live album, the song marked a departure from Hendrix’s previous works with the Jimi Hendrix Experience.

 

 

2 – “All Along The Watchtower” by Bob Dylan

Continuing his exploration of anti-war sentiments, Bob Dylan released “All Along the Watchtower” in 1967 amidst the escalating Vietnam War. The song, enriched by the iconic cover of Jimi Hendrix, encapsulates the era’s unease.

While not overtly preaching against war, its narrative subtly echoes the ambiguity and existential dread of conflict. Initially met with puzzlement, the song’s enigmatic storytelling gradually seeped into the collective consciousness. It became a reflective backdrop for a generation grappling with the complex realities of the Vietnam War.

bob dylan in 1966 rare photo

 

 

3 – “Fortunate Son” by Creedence Clearwater Revival

Propelled into the mainstream in 1969, Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Fortunate Son” struck a chord that resonated deeply with the prevailing class disparities during the Vietnam era.

The song, with its powerful lyrics, deftly questioned the socio-economic system, shedding light on the disproportionate burden of the draft borne by poorer and middle-class families. “Fortunate Son” became a rallying cry for those critical of the war, adding substantial fuel to the anti-war sentiment that was already brimming at the time.

Fortunate Son Vietnam Wart wallpaper

 

 

4 – “For What It’s Worth” by Buffalo Springfield

Originally about the Sunset Strip curfew riots, “For What It’s Worth” eventually became synonymous with the anti-war movement. The song captures the tipping point between disagreements and violence, highlighting the suppression of youth voices through force.

The Buffalo Springfield song struck a chord among anti-war activists, resonating with the broader sentiment against the Vietnam War. As a soundtrack to a turbulent era, the song goes beyond its initial context, evolving into an anthem for those challenging authority and advocating for change.

1966 Buffalo Springfield "For What Its Worth" Song Release

 

 

5 – “Give Peace a Chance” by John Lennon

No Vietnam War song list would be complete without John Lennon’s iconic peace anthem. Lennon’s simple yet powerful chant was a direct plea for peace, nudging people to question why they couldn’t give it a chance.

Let’s just say Peace has a new tune! The song became an anthem for peace rallies and anti-war demonstrations worldwide. Lennon’s “Give Peace a Chance” not only served as a rallying cry during a tumultuous time but also left an indelible mark on the collective consciousness.

 

 

6 – “The Sound of Silence” by Simon & Garfunkel

Though not directly about Vietnam, “The Sound of Silence” aptly conveyed the collective numbness and ignorance propelling the war machine. This masterpiece encapsulated the suffering wrought by war and the deafening silence from those who could stop it.

Simon & Garfunkel’s haunting lyrics and melodic resonance served as a poignant commentary on the broader societal silence in the face of conflict. The song’s evocative power lies in its ability to transcend specific wars, resonating with any era where the silence of the masses becomes a complicit force in the continuation of suffering.

 

 

7 – “War” by Edwin Starr

This intense soul tune was an unambiguous condemnation of war, serving as a fist raised against the establishment’s manipulation. Edwin Starr sang out the bitter truth with gusto; war is a single-word horror story, one in which everybody loses.

Seeping into social consciousness, “War” bolstered opposition against the Vietnam War, becoming the battle cry for those who yearned for peace. The song’s powerful message and energetic delivery made it an anthem for anti-war protests, resonating with the collective desire for change. Starr’s emphatic declaration that war is “good for absolutely nothing” reverberated far beyond its initial release, solidifying “War” as a timeless protest anthem against the destructive nature of armed conflicts.

 

 

8 – “Ohio” by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

In the wake of the tragic Kent State University shootings on May 4, 1970, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young responded swiftly with the haunting anthem “Ohio.”

The song captures the shock and outrage surrounding the incident where National Guardsmen opened fire on students protesting the Vietnam War.

With Neil Young’s searing lyrics and the group’s powerful harmonies, “Ohio” became an urgent call to action, demanding accountability for the lives lost.

 

 

9 – “Universal Soldier” by Donovan

Donovan’s “Universal Soldier” is a poetic and poignant exploration of the individual’s role in perpetuating or challenging the machinery of war.

Released in 1965, the song’s acoustic simplicity and Donovan’s earnest delivery underscore its anti-war message. With lyrics that question the blind obedience of soldiers and the societal machinery that sends them to battle, “Universal Soldier” transcends its time, resonating as a timeless reflection on the human cost of conflict.

 

 

10 – “Draft Morning” by The Byrds

In the tumultuous landscape of the Vietnam War, The Byrds’ “Draft Morning” emerged as a compelling commentary on the draft experience and its profound impact on young lives. Released in 1968, during a pivotal moment in the anti-war movement, the song delves into the anxiety and uncertainty faced by those awaiting conscription.

With its characteristic folk-rock sound, “Draft Morning” paints a vivid sonic landscape that mirrors the complexities of the era. The Byrds’ harmonious blend of vocals and intricate instrumentation adds depth to the song’s narrative, creating a melodic journey that reflects the broader societal questioning of authority and war.


 

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“All Along the Watchtower”- Jimi Hendrix’s Cover.

 

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