My Top 10 Favorite Anti-War Songs

I was born in the late 60's, and this is the era in which I constantly heard many protest songs played on the radio, especially songs against the Vietnam War. Not only on the radio, I also saw the music video clips and news footage on TV about the Vietnam War.

When I grew up, I came to understand the lyrics and learn to love the songs. There are rock and roll songs I love to play, but I will just list here my favorite anti-war songs.

1. Happy Christmas (War is Over) - John Lennon

This is a Christmas song by by John Lennon, Yoko Ono and the Plastic Ono Band. It was recorded at Record Plant Studios in New York City in late October of 1971, with the help of producer Phil Spector. It features soaring, heavily echoed vocals, and a sing-along chorus. The children singing in the background were from the Harlem Community Choir and are credited on the song's single.

Although the song is a protest song about the Vietnam War, it has become a Christmas standard and has appeared on several Christmas albums.

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2. Blowin' in the Wind - Bob Dylan

A song written by Bob Dylan and released on his 1963 album The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan. Although it has been described as a protest song, it poses a series of questions about peace, war, and freedom. The refrain "The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind" has been described as "impenetrably ambiguous: either the answer is so obvious it is right in your face, or the answer is as intangible as the wind."

In 1999, the song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. In 2004, it was ranked #14 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the "500 Greatest Songs of All Time".

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3. Give Peace a Chance - John Lennon

This is a 1969 single by (John Lennon's) Plastic Ono Band that quickly became an anthem of the American anti-war movement at that time.

It was sung by half a million demonstrators in Washington, D.C. at the Vietnam Moratorium Day, on 15 October 1969. They were led by the renowned folk singer Pete Seeger, who interspersed phrases like, "Are you listening, Nixon?" and "Are you listening, Agnew?", between the choruses of protesters singing, "All we are saying ... is give peace a chance."

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4. Bring the Boys Back Home - Pink Floyd

This is a song on the Pink Floyd album, The Wall. "Bring the Boys Back Home" is about not letting war, or careers, overshadow family relationships or leave children neglected. This is symbolized by the scene in the film, a flashback in which protagonist Pink is a young boy at a train station, which is filled with soldiers returning from war, their loved ones rushing happily to greet them. But though he wanders around in vain, there is no one for Pink to embrace, as his father did not make it off the battlefield alive. The happy crowd sings an exultant tune, "Bring the Boys Back Home", but the song ends abruptly on a minor chord as Pink suddenly realizes he is alone, and the crowd of reunited families vanishes. As the last notes die away, we flash forward to his embittered and alienated adulthood. Memories of events that drove Pink to mental isolation begin to recur in a loop.

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5. Who'll Stop The Rain - Creedence Clearwater Revival

A song written by John Fogerty and originally recorded by Creedence Clearwater Revival for their 1970 album Cosmo's Factory.

Due to the time period in which it was made and the resigned but somewhat angry feeling of the song, many see "Who'll Stop the Rain" as a thinly-veiled protest against the Vietnam War, with the final verse lyrics and its references to music, large crowds, rain, and crowds trying to keep warm, being about the band's experience at the Woodstock Festival in August of 1969. There is also a line during the song's second verse about "five-year plans and new deals wrapped in golden chains" that may indicate a general cynicism altogether about politicians.

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6. They Dance Alone - Sting

They Dance Alone (Cueca Solo)" is a protest song composed by English musician Sting and published first on the 1987 album Nothing Like the Sun. The song is a metaphor referring to mourning Chilean women (arpilleristas) who were dancing the Cueca, the national dance of Chile, alone with photographs of their disappeared loved ones in their hands. Sting explained his song as a symbolic gesture of protest against the Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet whose regime killed thousands of people between 1973 and 1990. This song was written in an English version (with some spoken Spanish words) and a Spanish version titled Ellas Danzan Solas which was released on the EP Nada como el sol.

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7. Russians - Sting

A song by Sting, from his debut solo album, The Dream of the Blue Turtles, released in 1985. It was also released as a single. Sting cautions about the repercussions of the Cold War, singing how he hopes that the "Russians love their children too", since he sees this as the only thing that protects the world from a nuclear holocaust.

The song was a hit in France, where it peaked at #2 for three weeks and remained on the top 50 for 19 weeks. It is currently the 636th best-selling single of all time in this country.

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8. War Pigs - Black Sabbath

An anti-war song by British heavy metal band Black Sabbath from their 1970 album, Paranoid.

As explained in the liner notes of the band's live album Reunion, the original title of the song was "Walpurgis", and it dealt with the witches' sabbath. The title, lyrics, and theme were subsequently changed during the recording of Paranoid. An early version, with its original theme, can be found on Ozzy Osbourne's compilation The Ozzman Cometh.

It is the opening track on Paranoid, Black Sabbath's best selling album. It can also be found on every live and compilation album by the band except Cross Purposes Live along with "Paranoid" itself and "Iron Man".

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9. The Times They Are a-Changin' - Bob Dylan

The Times They Are a-Changin is singer-songwriter Bob Dylan's third studio album, released in January 1964 by Columbia Records. The Times They Are a-Changin' opens with the title track, one of Dylan's most famous songs.

Dylan recalled writing the song as a deliberate attempt to create an anthem of change for the moment. The civil rights movement and the folk music movement were pretty close for a while and allied together at that time. A self-conscious protest song, it is often viewed as a reflection of the generation gap and of the political divide marking American culture in the 1960s.

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10. Ang Bayan Kong Sinilangan- Asin

Asin (sometimes spelled ASIN, in all capital letters) is a Pinoy rock and folk rock band from the Philippines. They were formed during the 1970s and originally known as Salt of the Earth from the song of Joan Baez, but later Filipinized their name into "Asin", which means salt in Filipino language.

Asin were also important in the political world and although they did not set out to be a political band they reflected the political message needed for the times. This should be seen against the backdrop of martial law during the time of President Ferdinand Marcos. Occasionally their recordings were confiscated as subversive yet on the other hand they were invited to play at the Presidential Palace.

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Comments 19 comments

beth811 profile image

beth811 5 years ago from Philippines Author

@ angie ashbourne- Thanks!


angie ashbourne profile image

angie ashbourne 5 years ago

Good Hub - I like the song, Give Peace a Chance 1969 - John Lennon


beth811 profile image

beth811 5 years ago from Philippines Author

I'm glad you liked it, MrDSpade. Thanks!


MrDSpade2 5 years ago

Inspirational and commendable, cool hub.


beth811 profile image

beth811 6 years ago from Philippines Author

Tom - I was having 5 days vacation (no laptop or pc to use to check mails or my HP account) and sorry for my late reply.

Have thought why I did not include Masters of War in my list. Masters of War lyrics have more meanings and create much impact generally when talking about war. Thank you so much for bringing this to my attention. Your comment here is much appreciated!

There are many antiwar songs I like, so I think I have to revamp this list and make it to My Favorite Top 20 or more, LOL...

As to why I haven't approved yet your comments... maybe I was comfortably numb to them, LOL...


justom profile image

justom 6 years ago from 41042

Hello..Hello..Hello, is there anybody in here? Just nod if you can hear me. Is there anyone home? Have you given up or just not approving comments? Just curious!! Peace!! Tom


justom profile image

justom 6 years ago from 41042

Blowin' in the Wind? I'm not sure there's a better anti-war song written than Masters of War (from the same album). How could it not be considered at least in the top 10? Just sayin' Peace!! Tom


beth811 profile image

beth811 6 years ago from Philippines Author

Hi, atravellertoo. Thanks for dropping by.

There are a lot of anti-war songs I like but I could not list down ALL of them here so I made it as My Top Ten Favorite.

Sorry if you miss your favorites in this list. Thanks for the input too...


atravellertoo 6 years ago

List is acceptable but misses many 60's folk greats: some like Universial Soldier even made the crossover into Pop. I also noticed that Country songs like Ruby (also a crossover to Pop) by Kenny Rogers missed the list


beth811 profile image

beth811 6 years ago from Philippines Author

I know you like these since you love classic rock. Thanks, zzron.


zzron profile image

zzron 6 years ago from Houston, TX.

Very nice, I like all of these.


beth811 profile image

beth811 7 years ago from Philippines Author

Thanks for dropping by GNelson.


GNelson profile image

GNelson 7 years ago from Florida

Thanks for this hub. I really enjoyed it!!


beth811 profile image

beth811 7 years ago from Philippines Author

Thanks for taking your time reading this hub, Maita. I love John Lennon too.


prettydarkhorse profile image

prettydarkhorse 7 years ago from US

i love john lennon songs, imagine is one...good you put this together beth, good day to you as always!


beth811 profile image

beth811 7 years ago from Philippines Author

Thanks Naomi. I'm glad you enjoyed it.


Naomi R. Cox profile image

Naomi R. Cox 7 years ago from Elberton, Georgia

Great article here, Beth. Good to hear some of the songs again too. Thanks for sharing.


beth811 profile image

beth811 7 years ago from Philippines Author

Thanks for dropping by, shamelabboush.


shamelabboush profile image

shamelabboush 7 years ago

Nicely researched hub beth, thanks.

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