Music as a form of anti-war protest?

#1
Was sent a few tracks from the Farenheit 9/11 soundtrack, most of which have a strong anti-war, but not anti-military message (think Travellin' Soldier by the Dixie Chicks), and that got me wondering, can music ever be considered an acceptable outlet for protests against war?

We all know music reacts to and often against the society of the time, particularly from the point of view of the yoffs of the day, but when it comes to an anti-war message it always seems to me to be a bit coy and poofy and, by and large, written by people who have no idea what they're on about that, in some cases, end up slagging of those in uniform for no good reason.

Most anti-vietnam songs seem quaint on reflection and most anti-gulf war songs seem weak and way off the mark.

Has music ever got it right in, say, the way film has (Platoon, Full Metal Jacket etc) and genuinely reflected the public's feelings at the time or is George Michael's Shoot the Dog the best we can expect?
 
#2
I recall a ditty from Gulf War 1:

"Hell, No, We Won't Go
We Won't fight for Texaco!"

Apparently it had an alternative ending:

"Hell, yes, send them to us
We will fight for Scottish Brewers"

http://www.jwsrockgarden.com/jw02vvaw.htm#message

I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-to-Die Rag
Joe McDonald (1965)

Well, Come On All Of You, Big Strong Men,
Uncle Sam Needs Your Help Again.
He's Got Himself In A Terrible Jam
Way Down Yonder In Vietnam
So Put Down Your Books And Pick Up A Gun,
We're Gonna Have A Whole Lotta Fun.

And It's One, Two, Three,
What Are We Fighting For ?
Don't Ask Me, I Don't Give A Damn,
Next Stop Is Vietnam;
And It's Five, Six, Seven,
Open Up The Pearly Gates,
Well There Ain't No Time To Wonder Why,
Whoopee! We're All Gonna Die.

Come On Wall Street, Don't Be Slow,
Why Man, This Is War Au-Go-Go
There's Plenty Good Money To Be Made
By Supplying The Army With The Tools Of Its Trade,
But Just Hope And Pray That If They Drop The Bomb,
They Drop It On The Viet Cong.

And It's One, Two, Three,
What Are We Fighting For ?
Don't Ask Me, I Don't Give A Damn,
Next Stop Is Vietnam.
And It's Five, Six, Seven,
Open Up The Pearly Gates,
Well There Ain't No Time To Wonder Why
Whoopee! We're All Gonna Die.

Well, Come On Generals, Let's Move Fast;
Your Big Chance Has Come At Last.
Now You Can Go Out And Get Those Reds
'Cause The Only Good Commie Is The One That's Dead
And You Know That Peace Can Only Be Won
When We've Blown 'Em All To Kingdom Come.

And It's One, Two, Three,
What Are We Fighting For ?
Don't Ask Me, I Don't Give A Damn,
Next Stop Is Vietnam;
And It's Five, Six, Seven,
Open Up The Pearly Gates,
Well There Ain't No Time To Wonder Why
Whoopee! We're All Gonna Die.

Come On Mothers Throughout The Land,
Pack Your Boys Off To Vietnam.
Come On Fathers, And Don't Hesitate
To Send Your Sons Off Before It's Too Late.
And You Can Be The First Ones On Your Block
To Have Your Boy Come Home In A Box.

And It's One, Two, Three
What Are We Fighting For ?
Don't Ask Me, I Don't Give A Damn,
Next Stop Is Vietnam.
And It's Five, Six, Seven,
Open Up The Pearly Gates,
Well There Ain't No Time To Wonder Why,
Whoopee! We're All Gonna Die.
 
#3
This sounds really really strange... but Greenday have actually come out with some of the best "anti-war" music on their latest album (american idiot), which also takes a pretty good pop at american media, american views etc

They're the Bob Dylan and John Lennon of the modern day...

editted to add that I agree that a lot of previous, especially anti-vietnam music, was very "quaint", but probably not so off the mark. Remember that "Give peace a chance" was a favourite of the hippies, who were a force to be reckoned with in those days. Obviously from our view point a lot of music has been written from a "peace and love" perspective which seems nieve etc, but it's the anti-services ones that get me wound up
 
#4
Masters of War- Bob Dylan

Come you masters of war
You that build all the guns
You that build the death planes
You that build the big bombs
You that hide behind walls
You that hide behind desks
I just want you to know
I can see through your masks

You that never done nothin'
But build to destroy
You play with my world
Like it's your little toy
You put a gun in my hand
And you hide from my eyes
And you turn and run farther
When the fast bullets fly

Like Judas of old
You lie and deceive
A world war can be won
You want me to believe
But I see through your eyes
And I see through your brain
Like I see through the water
That runs down my drain

You fasten the triggers
For the others to fire
Then you set back and watch
When the death count gets higher
You hide in your mansion
As young people's blood
Flows out of their bodies
And is buried in the mud

You've thrown the worst fear
That can ever be hurled
Fear to bring children
Into the world
For threatening my baby
Unborn and unnamed
You ain't worth the blood
That runs in your veins

How much do I know
To talk out of turn
You might say that I'm young
You might say I'm unlearned
But there's one thing I know
Though I'm younger than you
Even Jesus would never
Forgive what you do

Let me ask you one question
Is your money that good
Will it buy you forgiveness
Do you think that it could
I think you will find
When your death takes its toll
All the money you made
Will never buy back your soul

And I hope that you die
And your death'll come soon
I will follow your casket
In the pale afternoon
And I'll watch while you're lowered
Down to your deathbed
And I'll stand o'er your grave
'Til I'm sure that you're dead
 
#5
I remember Goodnight Siagon by Billy Joel. It was actually an adaptation of the autobiography by a paralyzed anti-war veteran.
 
#6
crabby said:
This sounds really really strange... but Greenday have actually come out with some of the best "anti-war" music on their latest album (american idiot), which also takes a pretty good pop at american media, american views etc
Actually, I agree. When compared to other bands they have certainly been the most vocal in their criticism of current world events, particularly in relation to their own government's involvement.

On that point, do you think their demographic has or is more likely to develop their own understanding of the subjects being written about, or are they more likely to adopt the view of whichever band they're listening to at the time?
 
#7
Chalky said:
crabby said:
This sounds really really strange... but Greenday have actually come out with some of the best "anti-war" music on their latest album (american idiot), which also takes a pretty good pop at american media, american views etc
Actually, I agree. When compared to other bands they have certainly been the most vocal in their criticism of current world events, particularly in relation to their own government's involvement.

On that point, do you think their demographic has or is more likely to develop their own understanding of the subjects being written about, or are they more likely to adopt the view of whichever band they're listening to at the time?
I don't actually know. You could say "young kids listening to greenday are just going to be impressionable and going along with what they think's cool" but there are a couple of problems with that. How many war protestors have you met who don't actually have a clue? They're just as impressionable and narrowminded as a teenager, if not more so. Also Greenday, having finally grown up, have broadened their appeal. My only other comment would be that perhaps some of their music is still "too subtle" (when september ends, most people think it's just a nice tune *sigh*). However, at least they have been vocal against the government outside of their music and they actually seem almost intelligent.
 
#8
crabby said:
Chalky said:
crabby said:
This sounds really really strange... but Greenday have actually come out with some of the best "anti-war" music on their latest album (american idiot), which also takes a pretty good pop at american media, american views etc
Actually, I agree. When compared to other bands they have certainly been the most vocal in their criticism of current world events, particularly in relation to their own government's involvement.

On that point, do you think their demographic has or is more likely to develop their own understanding of the subjects being written about, or are they more likely to adopt the view of whichever band they're listening to at the time?
I don't actually know. You could say "young kids listening to greenday are just going to be impressionable and going along with what they think's cool" but there are a couple of problems with that. How many war protestors have you met who don't actually have a clue? They're just as impressionable and narrowminded as a teenager, if not more so. Also Greenday, having finally grown up, have broadened their appeal. My only other comment would be that perhaps some of their music is still "too subtle" (when september ends, most people think it's just a nice tune *sigh*). However, at least they have been vocal against the government outside of their music and they actually seem almost intelligent.
I find alot of the younger kids love Greenday but dont actually listen carefully to what exactly they are singing about!
 
#9
crabby said:
How many war protestors have you met who don't actually have a clue? They're just as impressionable and narrowminded as a teenager, if not more so.
Before the whole Iraq debacle I would perhaps have agreed, but that particular debate brought to the fore the 'informed' protestor particularly amongst the mobilised middle classes, mixed in amongst the great unwashed student masses.

It doesn't, of course, mean that they were right or that because they had a vague idea of the actual issue they should be congratulated for finally applying their brain to something other than the Daily Mail weekend crossword, but it did show that when the issue is divisive enough political action will not fall solely to the soap-dodging animal-rights greeb with the DPM jacket and t-shirt sporting a picture of Che Guevara.

On the point of the hippy movement wielding enormous influence, which group of political activists wield the most influence now? I'd be terrified if it turned out to be a christian group. :-(
 
#10
Chalky said:
crabby said:
How many war protestors have you met who don't actually have a clue? They're just as impressionable and narrowminded as a teenager, if not more so.
Before the whole Iraq debacle I would perhaps have agreed, but that particular debate brought to the fore the 'informed' protestor particularly amongst the mobilised middle classes, mixed in amongst the great unwashed student masses.

It doesn't, of course, mean that they were right or that because they had a vague idea of the actual issue they should be congratulated for finally applying their brain to something other than the Daily Mail weekend crossword, but it did show that when the issue is divisive enough political action will not fall solely to the soap-dodging animal-rights greeb with the DPM jacket and t-shirt sporting a picture of Che Guevara.

On the point of the hippy movement wielding enormous influence, which group of political activists wield the most influence now? I'd be terrified if it turned out to be a christian group. :-(
Minority ethnic groups... I think even the Christian movement is kept in check by being a more tolerant majority than some of the less tolerant strands of different religions that live in this country. Environmentalists also hold quite a lot of influence now, but often half of them don't have the first clue what they're on about - or mix their desire for environmental protection in with republican/communist/liberalist agendas thus devaluing their argument
 
#12
Interesting thread.

I suppose there hasn't been much in the way of protest songs since political punk largely died in the mid 80s.

I suppose this counts as anti-war, although it should be considered that this particular band were not
entirely unsympathetic to the wooly face gang over the water:

Last Night Another Soldier Lyrics - Angelic Upstarts



Last night another soldier, last night another child
No one seems to worry, no one sees his mother cry

Can you see that smart, clean soldier,
Standing straight and oh so proud
He wants to fight for Queen and country
He wants to make his family proud

A job with the future, his way to get out of it
It's his sense of romance, it never ends that way
Last night another soldier, last night another child
No one seems to worry, no one sees his mother cry

They're just facts and figures on your TV screen
Another child and another soldier, is peace just a dream

In the country strange and foreign all the people resent him
He can't cope with his problems, all the fears and hatred

Now he wish he never went he wish he never thought of it
It's not the same as fighting armies looking for the terrorists

They're just facts and figures...

Can you hear the mocking laughter from the ones that gain by it
They're not in line for the bullets, they're the ones who started it

They're just facts and figures...

Last night another soldier, last night another child
Just a number in the papers, another one of the innocent

They're just facts and figures..
 
#13
Take example of Billy Bragg.
Good singer. Good music and lyrics. Very committed to his principles. Yet from where I sit I cannot think of anything he has done that has changed the path of the world to the slightest degree.
People listen to music to be entertained - Leonard Cohen aside. They might sing 'protest' music at demos but I know of no such song that has inspired a demo of any significance. Joan Baez had same sort of talent as Bragg but was known more for her musical talent than for her effect on things.
Blues and (sorry) negro spirituals gave solace to the singer and others in same conditions but there was no TOTP from the Slaves Revolution.
 
#14
Anyone here heard of Anti Flag

"Operation Iraqi Liberation (O.I.L.)"

This is a tale of liberation,this dedication song
Broadcast it from all stations!!

This tribute, this salute
cold hard facts one can't refute
#1 liberators in the world
can kill better than ice is cold!

To save you WE MAY HAVE TO KILL YOU!
For freedom YOU MAY HAVE TO DIE!
#1 at liberation
liberating life from bodies, helping spirits fly...
Freedom from... LIFE!

This is a tale of liberation,this dedication song
Broadcast it from all stations!!

This tribute, this salute
cold hard facts one can't refute
#1 liberators in the world
can kill better than ice is cold!

To save you WE MAY HAVE TO KILL YOU!
For freedom YOU MAY HAVE TO DIE!
#1 at liberation
liberating life from bodies, helping spirits fly...

THE GOVERNMENT LIES!
THE MASSES DIE!
THE MILITARY LIES!
AND WE ALL DIE!

BROADCAST IT FROM ALL STATIONS!
THIS IS OUR LIBERATION SONG!
BROADCAST IT FROM ALL STATIONS!
THIS IS OUR LIBERATION SONG!
BROADCAST IT FROM ALL STATIONS!
THIS IS OUR LIBERATION SONG!
BROADCAST IT FROM ALL STATIONS!
THIS IS OUR LIBERATION SONG!
 
#15
RustyH said:
Anyone here heard of Anti Flag

"Operation Iraqi Liberation (O.I.L.)"

This is a tale of liberation,this dedication song
Broadcast it from all stations!!

This tribute, this salute
cold hard facts one can't refute
#1 liberators in the world
can kill better than ice is cold!

To save you WE MAY HAVE TO KILL YOU!
For freedom YOU MAY HAVE TO DIE!
#1 at liberation
liberating life from bodies, helping spirits fly...
Freedom from... LIFE!

This is a tale of liberation,this dedication song
Broadcast it from all stations!!

This tribute, this salute
cold hard facts one can't refute
#1 liberators in the world
can kill better than ice is cold!

To save you WE MAY HAVE TO KILL YOU!
For freedom YOU MAY HAVE TO DIE!
#1 at liberation
liberating life from bodies, helping spirits fly...

THE GOVERNMENT LIES!
THE MASSES DIE!
THE MILITARY LIES!
AND WE ALL DIE!

BROADCAST IT FROM ALL STATIONS!
THIS IS OUR LIBERATION SONG!
BROADCAST IT FROM ALL STATIONS!
THIS IS OUR LIBERATION SONG!
BROADCAST IT FROM ALL STATIONS!
THIS IS OUR LIBERATION SONG!
BROADCAST IT FROM ALL STATIONS!
THIS IS OUR LIBERATION SONG!
Yes.

I've seen them live a few times (Reading Festival and when they were tour support to various pther punk bands), they've been going for years. The singer has a whiny, grating voice and the lyrics are pretty dire much of the time....the above track being a fine example of this!

:D
 
#16
Judge_John said:
I find alot of the younger kids love Greenday but dont actually listen carefully to what exactly they are singing about!
That's true. I have to admit to being guilty of the same thing. I've hummed away quite merrily to tunes that I've not realised were anti-war:

Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On?"
REM's "Orange Crush"
Credence Clearwater Revival's "Bad Moon Rising"
Nena's "99 Red Balloons"

The above just to mention a few.
 

Mr Happy

LE
Moderator
#17
99 Luftballoons - a classic....

Nena's still going you know, released a new labum last year, some of it pretty good.

I used to like Bloody Sunday or whatever by U2. Then it occured to me what its about (I never listen to lyrics, I am the worst Kareoke guy in the world) and I'm fairly steadfast in my not listening to it or indeed most of their songs now, which are shite anyway so thats fairly easy.
 
#18
Little Boy Soldiers By the Jam from the Album Setting Sons...

Its funny how you never knew what my name was,
Our only contact was a form for the election.

These days I find that you don't listen,
These days I find that we're out of touch,
These days I find that I'm too busy,
So why the attention now you want my assistance -
What have you done for me.

You've gone and got yourself in trouble,
No you want me to help you out.
These days I find that I can't be bothered,
These days I find that its all too much,
To pick up a gun and shoot a stranger,
But I've got no choice so here I come - war games.

I'm up on the hills, playing little boy soldiers,
Reconnaissance duty up at 5:30.
Shoot shoot shoot and kill the natives,
You're one of us and we love you for that.
Think of honour, Queen and country,
You're a blessed son of the British Empire,
God's on our side and so is Washington.

Come out on the hills with the little boy soldiers.
Come out on the hills with the little boy soldiers.
Come out on the hills with the little boy soldiers.

Come on outside - I'll sing you a lullaby,
Or tell a tale of how goodness prevailed.
We ruled the world - we killed and robbed,
The ******* lot - but we don't feel bad.
It was done beneath the flag of democracy,
You'll believe and I do - yes I do - yes I do -
yes I do -

These days I find that I can't be bothered,
To argue with them well what's the point,
Better to take your shots and drop down dead,
then they send you home in a pine overcoat
With a letter to your mum

Saying find enclosed one son - one medal and a note -
to say he won.
 
#19
How about off the new Muse album:

Soldiers’s poem

Throw it all away
Let's lose ourselves
'Cause there’s no one left for us to blame
It's a shame we're all dying
And do you think you deserve your freedom

How could you send us all far away from home
When you know damn well that this is all
I would still lay down my life for you
And do you think you deserve your freedom

No I don't think you do
There's no justice in the world
There's no justice in the world
And there never was


Nice touch that it's aiming it's anger at those who send the Army away, not the soldiers themselves.
 

chrisg46

LE
Book Reviewer
#20
ehh? 99 red balloons anti war song? wait a sec....(quick google search later)....ohhhh yeah....

Anyway, was that Everyone's gone to war song an anti war one, or a comment on human nature?

He says he's waited his whole damb life for this,
I knew him well when he was seventeen,
Now he's a man; he'll be dead by Christmas.

And so...
Everybody's going to war,
But we don't know what we're fighting for,

Don't tell me it's a worthy cause,
No cause could be so worthy
.

If love is a drug, then I guess we're all sober,
If hope is a song then I guess it's all over,
How to have faith, when faith is a crime?
I don't want to die...
If God's on our side, then God is a joker,
Asleep on the job, his children fall over,
Running out through the door and straight to the sky,
I don't want to die...


For every man who wants to rule the world,
There'll be a man who just wants to be free
,
What do we learn but what should not be learnt?
Too late to find a cure for this disease.

And so...
Everybody's going to war,
But we don't know what we're fighting for
,
Don't tell me it's a worthy cause,
No cause could be so worthy
.

If love is a drug, I guess we're all sober,
If hope is a song, I guess it's all over,
How to have faith, when faith is a crime?
I don't want to die...
If God's on our side, then God is a joker,
Asleep on the job, his children fall over,
Running out through the door, and straight to the sky,
I don't want to die...
I-I-I-I don't want to die,
I-I don't want to die...

I've got a friend, he's a pure-bred killing machine,
I think he might be dead by Christmas...


The sections highlighted in bold are the bits i have problem with.

Don't tell me it's a worthy cause,
No cause could be so worthy

Ok fair enough, she doesnt think any cause is worth fighting for. Thats her right, we do after all live in a free society. Oh wait, hang on a sec.... 8O

secondly,

For every man who wants to rule the world,
There'll be a man who just wants to be free.

So how do these two people resolve their differences? One just wants to be free, presumably running around with flowers in his hair, singing tra la la la and so on. The other wants to rule his arrse and tell him that no he cannot be friends with the bunny. In fact lets get all the bunnies in a gulag/concentration camp along with the guinea pigs and the feckin hamsters!
There isnt really a halfway point between the two so maybe at some point this situation could lead to hostilities. Would this count as being a worthy cause?

Having said all that, i do actually like the song (another case of not really listening to it), and think the video is good too! :D
 

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