War is a
sensitive subject but war songs evoke feelings of inspiration, pride, fear,
remembrance, confusion and hope.
echoes Edwin Starr’s 1970 anti-Vietnam hit War and most people’s feelings
towards conflict. Culture Club released
The War Song in 1984, although not their greatest song it stated, “War is
stupid and people are stupid”. Maybe
childish but a true statement?
definitely not stupid and music is a very emotive media.
A war song
relates to war or a people’s thoughts of conflict, they could be anti-war,
pro-war or just statements of warring life.
There are many songs we know and remember today passed through
generations of loved ones lost in battle or proud patriotic moments in history.
there has always been a “war” song. As
early as the 16th century, ballad writers wrote songs encouraging
bravery and honour in war. The earliest
British war song was The Ballad of Chevy Chase which was written about the Scottish
victory at the Battle of Otterburn in 1388 so may have been written in the 14th
were “cavalier” ballads about the Spanish Armada, English Civil War and American
Civil War. Songs were commonplace during both World War I and II.
the First World War there were patriotic songs and songs like "Pack Up Your Troubles"
which reminded the soldiers of home.
Humorous songs lifted spirits including "Oh It’s A Lovely War", comically
singing of mud and soldier’s food rations. This inspired the film “Oh What A
engulfed the Second World War. Songs
were readily available in the USA and Britain and every country used this
powerful media to rally people and troops.
Germany censored some radio, but music played a major part in the
war. Political propaganda used in some compositions
gained mental points over the opposition.
Vera Lynn sang the popular war song, "(There’ll Be Bluebirds Over) The White
Cliffs of Dover". It was written before
America had joined the war, and Germany had conquered most of Europe and were
bombing Britain. Both countries’
aircraft fought over the hills of Dover and the song looked forward to hopeful
and peaceful times.
Other songs included
Vera Lynn’s "We’ll Meet Again" and the theme to TV’s “Dad’s Army”, "Run Rabbit Run"
by Flanagan and Allen.
know "19" by Paul Hardcastle was about the Vietnam War, the soldiers drafting
age. We remember Frankie Goes To
Hollywood’s controversial video to "Two Tribes" showing a hand to hand fight
between Reagan and Chernenko. Both were anti-war. Did you know that some war songs were loved for
very different reasons? Here’s a couple
to make you re-think.
Prince - Classic dance song? During the Reagan administration when nuclear war
was a huge reality, everybody assumed the world would end in 2000. It states everybody has a bomb so we can
dance until the end comes.
"Born In The
USA" by Bruce Springsteen - Patriotic anthem? Ronald Reagan misunderstood the
negative lyrics about the Vietnam War effects as national pride. It actually laments loss of national pride
and ignorance of the public voice.
happiness, sadness, love and pain. It inspires
movements, generations and sometimes hope for a better future.
Are there war
songs that you have taken to your heart for any reason, inspiring, protesting,
hopeful or reflective?
So war is
good for nothing, but songs about war are essential to our minds, hearts and
souls in this climate of destructive leaders.
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