The power of music is undeniable. War songs have been used throughout history to rally troops, honour fallen soldiers, and commemorate hard-fought battles. From ancient chants to modern anthems, these songs have served as a source of inspiration and a way to connect with people from all walks of life.
In this article, we’ll explore some of the best war songs ever released and the stories behind them. We’ll look at a few of our top picks and discuss why they remain so powerful and beloved today. So, strap on your helmet and get ready to explore the best war songs ever released.
“Fortunate Son” by Creedence Clearwater Revival
“Fortunate Son” is a rock song by the American rock band Creedence Clearwater Revival, released on their 1969 album, Willy and the Poor Boys. Written by John Fogerty and released as a single in September 1969, it reached number 14 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
The song is a protest against the Vietnam War and the privileged class that was able to avoid the draft. The lyrics describe a young man who is the “son of a millionaire” and is able to avoid being drafted into the military, while other, less fortunate sons are sent off to fight in the war. The song was a major hit in 1969 and has since become a classic protest song.
“Goodnight Saigon” by Billy Joel
“Goodnight Saigon” is a song by Billy Joel, released on his 1982 album The Nylon Curtain. The song was written as a tribute to the Vietnam War veterans who served in the conflict. It tells the story of a group of American soldiers who are sent to fight in Vietnam, and the struggles they face while there.
The song follows the soldiers as they prepare to leave Vietnam, saying goodbye to their friends and reflecting on the war and their experiences. The song also contains references to the Tet Offensive, the My Lai Massacre, and the fall of Saigon. The song has since become a staple of Joel’s live performances and has been used in movies and television shows to evoke the emotions of the Vietnam War.
“The Ballad of the Green Berets” by Barry Sadler
The Ballad of the Green Berets is a patriotic song written by Staff Sergeant Barry Sadler and Robin Moore, and performed by Sadler. It was released in 1966 and became a major hit, reaching number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the United States. The song is about the United States Army Special Forces unit, the Green Berets, and celebrates their courage, dedication, and patriotism. It is often considered the unofficial anthem of the Green Berets.
The song was written by Sadler and Moore in response to the Vietnam War. Sadler was a Vietnam veteran who had served as a medic with the Green Berets and was inspired by the bravery and dedication of the unit. Moore was an author who had written a book about the Green Berets. The song was recorded in 1966 and released as a single, becoming an instant hit and reaching number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It was also released on an album of the same name, which reached number one on the Billboard album chart.
The song has become an iconic symbol of patriotism and the Green Berets. It has been performed by numerous artists, including Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, and Merle Haggard, and has been featured in numerous films and television shows. It is still a popular choice for military functions and patriotic events.
“Where Have All the Flowers Gone” by Pete Seeger
“Where Have All the Flowers Gone” is a folk song written by Pete Seeger in 1955. The song is a protest against war and a lament for the victims of war. It is a simple song with a simple message, but it has become an anthem of peace and a reminder of the pain and suffering caused by war.
The song is based on a Ukrainian folk song, “Koloda-Duda”, which was collected by Ukrainian-American folklorist, Natalie Koulbanis, in the 1950s. Seeger adapted the melody and rewrote the lyrics to create a song that speaks to the horrors of war and the need for peace.
The story behind the song is that Seeger was inspired by the death of his friend and fellow folk singer, Woody Guthrie, in 1967. Seeger wrote the song as a way to honour his memory and to remind people of the cost of war.
The song has been covered by many different artists over the years, including Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, and The Kingston Trio. It has been used in films, television shows, and commercials, and has become an anthem of peace and a reminder of the need for peace.
“Masters of War” by Bob Dylan
“Masters of War” is a song written and performed by Bob Dylan, released on his 1963 album The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan. The song is a protest against war and warmongers and is considered one of the most influential protest songs of all time.
The song is addressed to “Masters of War”, a phrase which Dylan uses to refer to those who profit from war and the arms industry. The lyrics describe the destruction caused by war and the hypocrisy of those who profit from it. Dylan’s lyrics are inspired by the biblical Book of Isaiah, in which God condemns those who make a profit from war.
It has been covered by many artists, including Joan Baez, Bruce Springsteen, and U2. It has been used in films and television shows, including Forrest Gump and The West Wing.
The song’s message remains as relevant today as it was when it was first released, and it continues to inspire new generations of protest singers.
“Hells Bells” by AC/DC
“Hells Bells” is a song by the Australian rock band AC/DC, released as the lead single from their 1980 album Back in Black. The song was written by Angus Young, Malcolm Young, and Bon Scott.
It is an ode to the power of rock and roll, with its title being a reference to the bells used in churches to announce the start of service. The lyrics are about the fear and uncertainty of the unknown, with references to death and the devil. The song is driven by a powerful guitar riff and a pounding drumbeat, with an ominous bell ringing throughout.
The song was a major hit for the band, reaching #37 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and #2 on the UK Singles Chart. It has become one of AC/DC’s most iconic songs and is still performed live to this day.
“American Soldier” by Toby Keith
“American Soldier” is a song written and recorded by American country music singer Toby Keith. The song was released in 2003 as the lead single from his album Shock’n Y’all.
It is a tribute to the American soldier and their families and is a reflection of Keith’s admiration for the men and women of the United States Armed Forces. The song was written in honour of his father, Hubert Keith Covel, who served in World War II and the Korean War.
The song is a mid-tempo ballad, backed by strings and piano. The lyrics of the song describe the hardships and sacrifices of the American soldier, and the courage and bravery with which they serve. The song is often played at military funerals and memorial services.
It was a major success, reaching number one on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart, and was certified gold by the RIAA. It was also nominated for two Grammy Awards, as well as a Country Music Association Award.
“The Sound of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkel
The Sound of Silence is a song by the folk-rock duo Simon & Garfunkel, released in 1964. Written by Paul Simon, the song was originally titled “The Sounds of Silence” and recorded by Simon alone, but producer Tom Wilson added electric guitar and drums and released it as a single. The song became a major hit in the United States and around the world, reaching number one in several countries.
The song was inspired by a poem written by Paul Simon and is about the alienation and loneliness of modern society. The lyrics speak of a world in which people are disconnected from each other and communicate only through technology and television. The song speaks of a need for connection and understanding, and it has been interpreted as a commentary on the Vietnam War and the Cold War.
The song has been covered by many artists, including Elvis Presley and Metallica, and has been featured in numerous films and television shows. It is one of the most covered songs of all time and is considered a classic of the 1960s.
“Mama Tried” by Merle Haggard
“Mama Tried” is a song written and recorded by American country music artist Merle Haggard, and released in 1968. It is one of his most famous songs and has been covered by numerous artists, including Simon & Garfunkel.
The song tells the story of a young man’s struggles with life and his relationship with his mother. It paints a vivid picture of a young man who has gone astray and is trying to make his way back home.
The chorus reflects the mother’s love and understanding, despite her son’s mistakes: “Mama tried, to raise me better, but her pleading I denied/That leaves only me to blame ’cause Mama tried.” In the end, the man finds redemption and peace in the arms of his mother.
The song is often interpreted as a metaphor for the struggles of life and the importance of family. It serves as a reminder that no matter how far we may stray, our mother’s love and understanding will always be there to bring us back home.
These are just a few of the many great war songs that have been released over the years. Each of these songs captures the emotions of war in a unique and powerful way and will continue to resonate in our collective memory for years to come.