Here in Canada, the 11th Day of the 11th month is committed to remembering those who gave their lives for the freedom we enjoy daily. I am not a politcian. I am not a philosopher. Nor am I in any position to give a detailed and lengthy rant about the evils of war, but typically it sucks. Sadly almost every civilization has experienced it in one form or another. Their muses and artists have not ignored the subject either. Here are 10 great songs about war.
1. "Rooster" - Alice In Chains
Vietnam inspired many great songs. Funny how such a futile and seemingly pointless occupation could inspire so many. I guess it isn't funny when you think of it. This one is about Jerry Cantrell's father who's nickname in Vietnam was "Rooster". The lyrics really exemplify the horror the soldiers experienced over there and the backlash they were ambushed by upon returning home. The video features Cantrell's father telling it from his perspective.
2. "Fortunate Son" - Creedance Clearwater Revival
Americans are silly....and sometimes terrifying. Upon it's release many patriotic Americans hailed "Fortunate Son" as a new anthem for those proud to wave the red, white and blue and believed it was a tune in favour of their new war. If they listened to the lyrics however, they would see it was critical of how rich and powerful politicians start wars that the poor end up being sent to fight.
3. "White People For Peace" - Against Me!
Against Me! have never been shy about where they stand on the politics of war. 2007's New Wave feature "White People For Peace" which screams for a halt of unnecessary bloodshed in the Middle East. As the lyrics unfold it paints a picture that makes the current events of a war on terror so baffling you almost wish it was just words in a song.
4. "One" - Metallica
I almost did this list and forgot about this one...."One". Metallica usually try to keep music and their own personal alignments seperate. This song is actually based on the Dalton Trumbo novel Johnny Got His Gun, which takes place in the first world war. The lead in the story gets horribly wounded in the trenches, loses his arms, legs, face and voice but is still being kept alive. This song also was Metallica's first foray into the world of music videos, which features clips from the film adaption of the novel.
5. "B.Y.O.B" - System Of A Down
Lets keep the metal theme going. When this song was released I heard many people lamenting about how sad it was that System Of A Down made a party anthem. I found it sad that so many listeners missed the point so badly. It's a plea to us who blissfully ignore whats going on to our fellow countrymen over seas. Ignorance breeds ignorance. It also serves up the "respected" government officials who start this shit and expect those who voted them in to clean it up.
6. "Straight To Hell" - The Clash
I don't talk about these guys enough, but they were always so much more to me than "Rock The Casbah" or "Should I Stay Or Should I Go?". I'm sure you recognize the intro riff that MIA used in her 2008 track "Paper Planes". The song was written about the American soldiers having children with Vietnamese women. "Going straight to hell" is those kids expecting America and the "father" they find there to be their salvation.
7. "No More" - Eddie Vedder
Although it was included as a bonus track on the iTunes version of the Into The Wild Soundtrack, it wasn't on the original release and doesn't really jive with the rest of that album's vibe. It is a straight forward, kick ass, grass roots protest song. Which is what this generation needs more of.
8. "Hero Of War" - Rise Against
Rise Against do a good job here of describing how it must be to get trucked off to another country and follow orders you may or may not understand. People come back as heroes, rightfully so, but maybe they aren't so proud of the "heroic" acts they carried out while they were away. Too many stories have been told of prisoner and even fellow soldiers being treated less than humanely. Just important to view all sides of an issue.
9. "Born In The USA" - Bruce Springsteen
Another one of those songs that people kind of missed the point to. Sure many Americans are proud of the country they are born in. I'm Canadian and I thank my lucky stars for my nationality almost daily. But Springsteen's song was more about how the Vietnam vets were getting spit on upon their return from a lost battle, unlike the heroes welcome veterans from other wars have always received. Don't think I could have done this list without the Boss either. Just didn't feel right.
10. "The Band Played Waltzing Matilda" - The Pogues
I've said some things here and included songs that might not say the greatest things about the wars of this crazy world. What it all boils down to is the fact that there are men and women fighting everyday for a cause. Whether you support that cause or not, those soldiers, wherever they were born, deserve to go home and fulfill their lives. They all have families. They all have hearts and minds. Every last one of them deserves your respect and gratitude. That's what November 11th is all about. Not wars. This song speaks for itself.