In light of Veteran's Day and a CSS Mass Communication class's focus on music, students were asked to write a reaction paper to an NPR feature on Vietnam War protest music. Students were given the prompt: Given the importance of music as a catalyst for social change during Vietnam War (1964-75), is there anything in today's music scene that compares with what happened then? If not, why not?
Music today is definitely related to the music produced during the Vietnam War. Artists are getting their message across about the war going on now, but many of these songs don't make it to the radio because the commercial radio stations do not want to cause controversy.
Protest songs that were released between 2002-2004 include the following: "Solider" by Eminem, "Traveling Solider" by The Dixie Chicks, "Where is the Love?" by The Black Eyed Peas, "Freedom" by Paul McCartney, "God Bless This Mess" by Sheryl Crow and "Both Sides of the Gun" by Ben Harper, just to name a few. There was also an entire CD, "American Idiot" by Green Day, dedicated to the war commentary. This entire CD is advocates against the war on terrorism.
"Love One Another" and "We Got to get out of this Place" are two songs that were written during the Vietnam war time. One obviously supports the war and one doesn't. A song that was more recently written about our current war is "Where is the Love?" by the Black Eyed Peas. The lyrics are strong and direct. Listen to "Where is the Love?" by Black Eyed Peas, and read some of the key points I have pulled from the song below.
The message of this song is clear to all listeners. I think that this song is phenomenal. I support our troops, but I do not support the war. War, for any reason, will never be the answer. Despite the controversial content in this song, it miraculously made it to commercial radio and became a hit!
Another recently produced protest song is "Freedom" by Paul McCartney. Unlike the Black Eyed Peas' song, this song advocates for the war. This song was "accepted" by our government because it has a message that reinforces the war on terrorism.
Click below to hear the song, and read the lyrics that follow:
I can't disagree with this song because our country is free, but the line that sticks out most to me is, "I will fight, for the right/To live in Freedom/Anyone who tries to take it away/ Will have to answer/Cause this is my right." It is ironic that it states "will have to answer," because that is suggesting violence within our own country and taking away the freedom of speech, key word: freedom.
After hearing the "Next Stop is Vietnam" war song and listening to songs that have been written and composed about 50 years before our war on terrorism, I have began to notice that there are many parallels between the role of music in Vietnam and the current war on terrorism. In both cases the music has become a medium that allows artists to share their opinions, either for or against the war. The words are strong and are heard.