What are the various sentiments of opposition to war or specifically the Vietnam War contained in the lyrics of protest songs of the 1960s?

Analyze the Evidence

Question

What are the various sentiments of opposition to war or specifically the Vietnam War contained in the lyrics of protest songs of the 1960s?

Identify 4 sentiments of opposition to the war and cite phrases from the lyrics of these songs. (Note: It will be helpful to you if you locate these songs on YouTube and listen to the music as you read the lyrics.)

Concept and Evidence Chart

Sentiments of Opposition                                    Lyric Citations

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
   

 

Background

In the United States, music has been a vehicle for protest going back to the 18th century. The American folk music tradition is replete with songs that have criticized and spoken up against powerful men, women, and institutions in American politics. In the 1920s and 30s, the blues music tradition joined folk music as a major conduit for protest and commentary on American society. Labor and social activism were the causes that inspired the protest music of the 1930s into the early 1950s.

In the later 1950s much of this protest focused on two phenomena — the growing civil rights movement and the anti-nuclear war movement. But increasingly, the object of protest in the 1960s was the Vietnam War. As President Kennedy sent “advisors” to Vietnam in the early 1960s and President Johnson escalated the war in 1964, the protest tradition found a new music genre–rock music.

The pivotal figure was probably Bob Dylan, who wrote several anti-war songs in about a 20-month period from late 1962 to early 1964, including a song called “Masters of War.” “Masters of War” was clearly in the folk tradition, as Dylan wrote for the acoustic guitar at the time. But many of his folk standards were being played by rock bands. Also, Dylan viewed “Masters of War” as a protest of the “military-industrial complex” that President Eisenhower talked about at the end of his presidency, not the Vietnam War. Nevertheless, the public perceived “Masters of War” and other anti-war songs as anti-Vietnam War songs.

The year 1966 was a key year since Johnson’s escalation of the Vietnam War was beginning to be felt at home in the debate about the war, the draft, and the country’s national debt. Numerous rock bands and songwriters began to question aspects of the war. The number of protest songs increased significantly in the following years, but the messages had many different calls to action or expression of sentiments about Vietnam.

 

 

Source 1: Bob Dylan, “Masters of War” (1963)

Come you masters of war
You that build all the guns
You that build the death planes
You that build all the 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 all 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
That 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 over your grave ‘Til I’m sure that you’re dead.

Source 2: Paul Simon, “Scarborough Fair” (1966)

Are you going to Scarborough Fair?
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme
Remember me to one who lives there
She once was a true love of mine.

Tell her to make me a cambric shirt
(On the side of a hill in the deep forest green)
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme
(Tracing a sparrow on snow-crested ground)
Without no seams nor needlework
(Blankets and bedclothes the child of the mountain)
Then she’ll be a true love of mine
(Sleeps unaware of the clarion call).

Tell her to find me an acre of land
(On the side of a hill, a sprinkling of leaves)
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme
(Washes the ground with so many tears)
Between the salt water and the sea strand
(A soldier cleans and polishes a gun)
Then she’ll be a true love of mine.

Tell her to reap it in a sickle of leather
(War bellows, blazing in scarlet battalions)
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme
(Generals order their soldiers to kill)
And to gather it all in a bunch of heather
(And to fight for a cause they’ve long ago forgotten)
Then she’ll be a true love of mine.

Are you going to Scarborough Fair?
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme
Remember me to one who lives there
She once was a true love of mine

Source 3: Country Joe McDonald and the Fish, “I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixing-To-Die Rag” (1966)

Well, come on all of you, big strong men,
Uncle Sam needs your help again.
Yeah, he’s got himself in a terrible jam
Way down yonder in Vietnam
So put down your books and pick up a gun,
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.

Yeah, 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,
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.
You can be the first ones in 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.

Source 4: Buffalo Springfield, “For What Its Worth” (1966)

There’s somethin’ happenin’ here
What it is ain’t exactly clear
There’s a man with a gun over there
A tellin’ me, I got to beware.
I think it’s time we stop, children, what’s that sound?
Everybody look what’s going down

There’s battle lines being drawn
Nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong
Young people speakin’ their minds
A gettin’ so much resistance from behind.
Time we stop, hey, what’s that sound?
Everybody look what’s going down.

What a field day for the heat
A thousand people in the street
Singing songs and they carrying signs
Mostly say, hooray for our side
It’s time we stop, hey, what’s that sound?
Everybody look what’s going down.

Paranoia strikes deep
Into your life it will creep
It starts when you’re always afraid
Step out of line, the man come and take you away
We better stop, hey, what’s that sound? Everybody look what’s going down.

Source 5: Jefferson Airplane, “Volunteers” (1969)

Look what’s happening out in the streets
Got a revolution, got to revolution
Hey, I’m dancing down the streets
Got a revolution, got to revolution
Ain’t it amazing all the people I meet?
Got a revolution, got to revolution

One generation got old
One generation got soul
This generation got no destination to hold
Pick up the cry

Hey, now it’s time for you and me
Got a revolution, got to revolution
Come on, now we’re marching to the sea
Got a revolution, got to revolution

Who will take it from you?
We will and who are we?

We are volunteers of America
Volunteers of America
Volunteers of America
Volunteers of America

Got a revolution Whoa, got a revolution

Source 6: Creedence Clearwater Revival, “Fortunate Son” (1969)

Some folks are born made to wave the flag
Ooh, they’re red, white and blue
And when the band plays “Hail to the Chief”
Oh, they point the cannon at you, Lord.

It ain’t me, it ain’t me
I ain’t no Senator’s son
It ain’t me, it ain’t me
I ain’t no fortunate one, no.

Some folks are born silver spoon in hand
Lord, don’t they help themselves, oh
But when the tax men come to the door
Lord, the house look a like a rummage sale, yes.

It ain’t me, it ain’t me
I ain’t no millionaire’s son, no, no
It ain’t me, it ain’t me
I ain’t no fortunate one, no.

Yeah, some folks inherit star spangled eyes
Ooh, they send you down to war, Lord
And when you ask them, “How much should we give?”
Oh, they only answer, more, more, more, oh.

It ain’t me, it ain’t me
I ain’t no military son
It ain’t me, it ain’t me
I ain’t no fortunate one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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