Songs About War

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Music Index

The following collection of songs presents commentary and insights regarding the impact of war on democracy. Lyrics are viewable by clicking on any song title.

  1. War” by Bruce Springsteen [Listen on iTunes Music Store]
  2. The Dogs of War” by Pink Floyd [Listen on iTunes Music Store]
  3. Till I Go Down” by Jackson Browne [Listen on iTunes Music Store]
  4. No Bomb is Smart” by Sonia Rutstein, SONiA [Listen on iTunes Music Store]
  5. It Won’t Take Long” by Ferron [Listen on iTunes Music Store]
  6. The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” by Gil Scott-Heron [Listen on iTunes Music Store]
  7. I Am A Patriot” by Jackson Browne [Listen on iTunes Music Store]
  8. The Word Justice” by Jackson Browne [Listen on iTunes Music Store]
  9. For America ” by Jackson Browne [Listen on iTunes Music Store]
  10. Lives in the Balance” by Jackson Browne [Listen on iTunes Music Store]
  11. Soldier of Plenty” by Jackson Browne [Listen on iTunes Music Store]
  12. What’s Going On” by Cyndi Lauper [Listen on iTunes Music Store]
  13. Sunday Bloody Sunday” by U2 [Listen on iTunes Music Store]
  14. Ride Across the River” by Dire Straits [Listen on iTunes Music Store]
  15. Brothers in Arms” by Dire Straits [Listen on iTunes Music Store]

iTunes Index [ Index | Top ]

Lyrics

“War” by Bruce Springsteen [Listen on iTunes Music Store] [ Index | Top ]

Spoken to crowd at live concert: “If you grew up in the 1960s, you grew up with war on TV every night – a war that your friends were involved in. I want to do this song tonight for all the young people that are out there. If you’re in your teens, I remember a lot of my friends when we were 17 or 18, we didn’t have much of a chance to think about how we felt about a lot of things. The next time, they’re going to be looking at you, and you’re going to need a lot of information to know what you’re going to want to do. Because in 1985, blind faith in your leaders or in anything will get you killed. Cause what I’m talking about here is…”

[chorus]

War

What is it good for

Absolutely nothing

War

What is it good for

Absolutely nothing

War is something that I despise

For it means the destruction of innocent lives

For it means tears in thousands of mothers’ eyes

When their sons go out to fight to give their lives

[chorus]

War

It’s nothing but a heartbreaker

War

Friend only to the undertaker

War is the enemy of all mankind

The thought of war just blows my mind

Handed down from generation to generation

Induction, destruction

Who wants to die

[chorus]

War has shattered many young men’s dreams

Made them disabled bitter and mean

Life is too precious to be fighting wars
each day

War can’t give life it can only take it away

[chorus]

War

It’s nothing but a heartbreaker

War

Friend only to the undertaker

Peace love and understanding

There must be some place for these things today

They say we must fight to keep our freedom

But Lord there’s gotta be a better way

That’s better than

War…

[chorus]

“The Dogs of War” by Pink Floyd [Listen on iTunes Music Store] [ Index | Top ]

Dogs of war and men of hate

With no cause, we don’t discriminate

Discovery is to be disowned

Our currency is flesh and bone

Hell opened up and put on sale

Gather ’round and haggle

For hard cash, we will lie and deceive

Even our masters don’t know the web we weave

One world, it’s a battleground

One world, and we will smash it down

One world … One world

Invisible transfers, long distance calls,

Hollow laughter in marble halls

Steps have been taken, a silent uproar

Has unleashed the dogs of war

You can’t stop what has begun

Signed, sealed, they deliver oblivion

We all have a dark side, to say the least

And dealing in death is the nature of the beast

One world, it’s a battleground

One world, and we will smash it down

One world … One world

The dogs of war don’t negotiate

The dogs of war won’t capitulate,

They will take and you will give,

And you must die so that they may live

You can knock at any door,

But wherever you go, you know they’ve been there before

Well winners can lose and things can get strained

But whatever you change, you know the dogs remain.

One world, it’s a battleground

One world, and we will smash it down

One world … One world

“Till I Go Down” by Jackson Browne [Listen on iTunes Music Store] [ Index | Top ]

Till I go down

I’m not gonna shut my eyes

I’ve already seen the lies

On the faces of the men of war

Leading people to the killing floor

Till I go down

Till the world stops spinning around

Till I’m six feet under the ground

Till there’s no sound

Till there’s no pain

I’m gonna swing this chain

Till I go down

I’m not gonna shut my mouth

I’m for the truth to come out

About the leader with the iron will

And his allegiance to the dollar bill

Till I go down

Till I go down

Till I go down

I’m not gonna shut my eyes

Till I go down

“No Bomb is Smart” by Sonia Rutstein, SONiA [Listen on iTunes Music Store] [ Index | Top ]

Well this is one more voice across the great big

This land is your land

and this is two more cracks across the backs

‘cause this land was my land

and it’s my time to sing now

I’m singing real loud

‘cause I’m not gonna watch this silently in pain

and I’m not gonna let this Earth go down the drain

once you bought up all the public transit tracks

so there was no way for us to get back home

had to buy a car to get to town

made sure that the bus stations all run down

well it’s my time to sing now

I’m singing real loud

‘cause I’m not gonna watch this silently in pain

and I’m not gonna let this Earth go down the drain

first you said they miscounted the votes

your brother said “no pretzels George, so you won’t choke”

how could a coup like this happen in America

“easily” that’s what the brother said “I already told ya”

it’s not about good guy

it’s not about bad guy

a brain’s a brain don’t ask me why

but if I am me and you are we

and we’re all freedom and democracy

then it’s hypocrisy to keep pushing us apart

no bomb is smart

no bomb is smart

now I’m riding on the back of a ten ton truck through Yucca Mountain

safe and quiet as a nuclear bomb or Chernobyl fountain

happy 50th birthday B-52 bomber

CNN how can you glorify this drama

Have you noticed that American’s on fire

Fueled by the high octane Bush bang bang empire

It’s not about good guy

It’s not about bad guy

A brain’s a brain don’t ask me why

well if I am me and you are we

and we’re all freedom and democracy

then it’s hypocrisy to keep pushing us apart

No bomb is smart

no bomb is smart

No bomb is smart

no bomb is smart

“It Won’t Take Long” by Ferron [Listen on iTunes Music Store] [ Index | Top ]

They said some men would be warriors

and some men would be kings

And some men would be owners of land

and other man-made things

False love as the eternal flame

would move some to think in rings

And gold would be our power

and other foolish things

But you who dream of liberty

must not yourselves be fooled

Before you get to plea for freedom,

you have agreed to be ruled

If the body stays a shackle

then the mind remains a chain

That’ll link you to a destiny

whereby all good souls are slain.

And it won’t take long,

it won’t take too long at all

It won’t take long, and you may say

“What has that got to do with me?”

and I say “You mean to tell me that’s all?”

Of three men in a desert wandering,

one is knowing and two are scared

They say time is in the river,

but the river is not there

Dry in spirit dry in body

two will lend themselves to death

And in grief one weeps into his hands

and drinks his bitter tears

‘Cause it don’t take long,

it don’t take too long at all

It don’t take long, and you may say,

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,”

and I say “You mean to tell me that’s all?”

And as I stand before you now,

I am hopeful in my rage

You know love has finally called for me,

I will not wilt upon its stage

But still smaller than my nightmare

do I print upon the page

Do we have to live inside its walls

to identify the cage?

‘Cause it takes so long,

why does it take so long,

But it takes so long, and you may say,

“I don’t really care what you’re talking about,”

and I say, “Are you trying to say you don’t belong?”

I am my mother’s daughter,

but I have seen myself in you

It’s this blessing that I follow now,

and so I must speak true

I dreamed of thousands dying,

it was you and you and you,

And while the city sleeps so quietly

there is something we must do

And it wont’ take long,

it won’t take too long at all,

It won’t take long, and you may say,

“I don’t know if I wanna know what you’re getting at,”

and it makes me wanna say, “So long.”

Because grief will come in measures,

only grief alone will know

And you’ll see it on your family,

on your own face it will grow

And they’ll try to keep you hungry,

then they’ll tell you to eat snow

You know pride can be a moving thing

if we learn the strength of “NO!”

And it won’t take long,

it won’t take too long at all,

It won’t take long, and you may say,

“I don’t think this has anything to do with me,”

“But did you ever think you could be wrong?”

At noon on one day coming,

human strength will fill the streets

Of every city on our planet,

hear the sound of angry feet

With business freezed up in the harbor,

the kings will pull upon their hair

And the banks will shudder to a halt,

and the artists will be there

‘Cause it won’t take long,

it won’t take too long at all,

It won’t take long, and you may say,

“I don’t think I can be a part of that,”

and it makes me want to say,

“Don’t you want to see yourself that strong?”

Division between the peoples

will disappear that honored day

And though oceans lie between us,

lifted candles light the way

Half will join their hands by moonlight,

the rest under a rising sun

As underneath the sun and moon,

a ritual’d wailing has begun.

And it won’t take long,

it won’t take too long at all,

It won’t take long, and you may say,

“I don’t know how to be a part of what you’re talking about,”

and it makes me want to say, “Come on!”

And beware you sagging diplomats,

for you will not hear one gun

And though our homes be torn

and ransacked we will not be undone

For as we let ourselves be bought,

we’re gonna let ourselves be free

And if you think we stand alone,

look again and you will see:

We are children in the rafters,

We are babies in the park,

We are lovers at the movies,

We are candles in the dark,

We are changes in the weather,

We are snowflakes in July,

We are women grown together,

We are men who easily cry,

We are words not quickly spoken,

We’re the deeper side of try,

We are dreamers in the making,

We are not afraid of “Why?

“The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” by Gil Scott-Heron [Listen on iTunes Music Store] [ Index | Top ]

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

You will not be able to stay home, brother.

You will not be able to plug in, turn on and cop out.

You will not be able to lose yourself on skag and skip,

Skip out for beer during commercials,

Because the revolution will not be televised.

The revolution will not be televised.

The revolution will not be brought to you by Xerox

In 4 parts without commercial interruptions.

The revolution will not show you pictures of Nixon

blowing a bugle and leading a charge by John Mitchell,

General Abrams and Spiro Agnew

to eat hog maws confiscated from a Harlem sanctuary.

The revolution will not be televised.

The revolution will not be brought to you by the

Schaefer Award Theatre and will not star Natalie

Woods and Steve McQueen or Bullwinkle and Julia.

The revolution will not give your mouth sex appeal.

The revolution will not get rid of the nubs.

The revolution will not make you look five pounds thinner,

because the revolution will not be televised, Brother.

There will be no pictures of you and Willie May

pushing that shopping cart down the block on the dead run,

or trying to slide that color television into a stolen ambulance.

NBC will not be able predict the winner at 8:32

or report from 29 districts.

The revolution will not be televised.

There will be no pictures of pigs shooting down

brothers in the instant replay.

There will be no pictures of pigs shooting down

brothers in the instant replay.

There will be no pictures of Whitney Young being

run out of Harlem on a rail with a brand new process.

There will be no slow motion or still life of Roy

Wilkens strolling through Watts in a Red, Black and

Green liberation jumpsuit that he had been saving

For just the proper occasion.

Green Acres, The Beverly Hillbillies, and Hooterville

Junction will no longer be so damned relevant, and

women will not care if Dick finally gets down with

Jane on Search for Tomorrow because Black people

will be in the street looking for a brighter day.

The revolution will not be televised.

There will be no highlights on the eleven o’clock

news and no pictures of hairy armed women

liberationists and Jackie Onassis blowing her nose.

The theme song will not be written by Jim Webb,

Francis Scott Key, nor sung by Glen Campbell, Tom

Jones, Johnny Cash, Englebert Humperdink, or the Rare Earth.

The revolution will not be televised.

The revolution will not be right back after a message

about a white tornado, white lightning, or white people.

You will not have to worry about a dove in your

bedroom, a tiger in your tank, or the giant in your toilet bowl.

The revolution will not go better with Coke.

The revolution will not fight the germs that may cause bad breath.

The revolution will put you in the driver’s seat.

The revolution will not be televised, will not be televised,

will not be televised, will not be televised.

The revolution will be no re-run brothers;

The revolution will be live.

“I Am A Patriot” by Jackson Browne [Listen on iTunes Music Store] [ Index | Top ]

And the river opens for the righteous (5 times)

Someday

I was walking with my brother

And he wondered what’s on my mind

I said what I believe in my soul

Ain’t what I see with my eyes

And we can’t turn our backs this time

I am a patriot

And I love my county

Because my country is all I know

I want to be with my family

The people who understand me

I’ve got nowhere else to go

And the river opens for the righteous

And the river opens for the righteous

And the river opens for the righteous

Someday

And I was talking with my sister

She looked so fine

I said, Baby, what’s on your mind?

She said, I want to run like the lion

Released from the cages

Released from the rages

Burning in my heart tonight

And I ain’t no communist

And I ain’t no capitalist

And I ain’t no socialist

And I ain’t no imperialist

And I ain’t no democrat

And I ain’t no republican

I only know one party

And it is freedom

I am, I am, I am

I am a patriot

And I love my country

Because my county is all I know

And the river opens for the righteous

And the river opens for the righteous

And the river opens for the righteous

Someday

And the river opens for the righteous…

“The Word Justice” by Jackson Browne [Listen on iTunes Music Store] [ Index | Top ]

A man stands up before God and country

Raises his right hand and takes an oath

Swears he has acted in the line of duty

And he more than anyone wants to tell the truth

But there is a need to keep some things a secret

Some weapons shipments–some private wars

In the future democracy will be defended

Behind closed doors

Now the men of Congress who convene to determine

If covert war is a business or a crime

Are the same men who routinely give their permission

For the shedding of blood in security’s name

And there is a need to keep some things a secret

The names of some countries–the terms of some deals

And above all the sound of the screams of the innocent

Beneath our wheels

Does the word justice mean anything to you?

Are the features of a lie beginning to come through?

In the streets of America the children are buried

Caught in an avalanche of weapons and drugs

They live and they die in the bowels of a business

That’s disguised as a war between The Crips and The Bloods

And there is a need to keep some things a secret

The C.I.A. deals protecting the source

And the government policies directly connecting the drugs and our wars

Does the word justice mean anything to you?

As the battlefield comes home and democracy falls through

I am waiting for the time to come

When the word will be real for everyone

And not just a word but a thing that can be done

But justice must be won

“For America ” by Jackson Browne [Listen on iTunes Music Store] [ Index | Top ]

As if I really didn’t understand

That I was just another part of their plan

I went off looking for the promise

Believing in the Motherland

And from the comfort of a dreamer’s bed

And the safety of my own head

I went on speaking of the future

While other people fought and bled

The kid I was when I first left home

Was looking for his freedom and a life of his own

But the freedom that he found wasn’t quite as sweet

When the truth was known

I have prayed for America

I was made for America

It’s in my blood and in my bones

By the dawn’s early light

By all I know is right

We’re going to reap what we have sown

As if freedom was a question of might

As if loyalty was black and white

You hear people say it all the time-

My country wrong or right

I want to know what that’s got to do

With what it takes to find out what’s true

With everyone from the President on down

Trying to keep it from you

The thing I wonder about the Dads and Moms

Who send their sons to the Vietnams

Will they really think their way of life

Has been protected as the next war comes?

I have prayed for America

I was made for America

Her shining dream plays in my mind

By the rockets red glare

A generation’s blank stare

We better wake her up this time

The kid I was when I first left home

Was looking for his freedom and a life of his own

But the freedom that he found wasn’t quite a sweet

When the truth was known

I have prayed for America

I was made for America

I can’t let go till she comes around

Until the land of the free

Is awake and can see

And until her conscience has been found

“Lives in the Balance” by Jackson Browne [Listen on iTunes Music Store] [ Index | Top ]

I’ve been waiting for something to happen

For a week or a month or a year

With the blood in the ink of the headlines

And the sound of the crowd in my ear

You might ask what it takes to remember

When you know that you’ve seen it before

Where a government lies to a people

And a country is drifting to war

And there’s a shadow on the faces

Of the men who send the guns

To the wars that are fought in places

Where their business interest runs

On the radio talk shows and the T.V.

You hear one thing again and again

How the U.S.A. stands for freedom

And we come to the aid of a friend

But who are the ones that we call our friends–

These governments killing their own?

Or the people who finally can’t take any more

And they pick up a gun or a brick or a stone

There are lives in the balance

There are people under fire

There are children at the cannons

And there is blood on the wire

There’s a shadow on the faces

Of the men who fan the flames

Of the wars that are fought in places

Where we can’t even say the names

They sell us the President the same way

They sell us our clothes and our cars

They sell us every thing from youth to religion

The same time they sell us our wars

I want to know who the men in the shadows are

I want to hear somebody asking them why

They can be counted on to tell us who our enemies are

But they’re never the ones to fight or to die

And there are lives in the balance

There are people under fire

There are children at the cannons

And there is blood on the wire

“Soldier of Plenty” by Jackson Browne [Listen on iTunes Music Store] [ Index | Top ]

God is great, God is good

He guards your neighborhood

Though it’s generally understood

Not quite the way you would

You try to take the slack

Stay awake and watch his back

But something happens every now and then

And someone breaks into the promised land

Ah, boy

This world is not your toy

This world is long on hunger

This world is short on joy

A E I O

You speak as if you know

What’s good for everyone

What’s good in what you’ve done?

What’s good about a world in which

War rages at a fever pitch

And people die for the little things

A little corn, a little beans

Ah, boy

This world is not your toy

This world is long on hunger

This world is short on joy

How much longer

You gonna keep the world hungry, boy?

You measure peace with guns

Progress in mega-tons

Who’s left when the war is won?

Soldier of misfortune

Soldier of an angry call

Soldier on foreign soil

I’m not here to fight your war

I know what you’re fighting for

Ah, boy

This world is not your toy

This world is long on hunger

This world is short on joy

How much longer

You gonna keep the world hungry, boy?

“What’s Going On” by Cyndi Lauper [Listen on iTunes Music Store] [ Index | Top ]

Mother, mother

There’s too many of you crying

and brother, brother, brother

There’s far too many of you dying

You know we’ve got to find a way

To bring back love here today

Father, father

There’s no need to escalate

You see, war is not the answer

For only love can conquer hate

You know we’ve got to find a way

To bring back lovin’ here today

Aw, picket lines, and picket signs

Don’t punish me with brutality

Just talk to me so you can see

Oh what’s going on,

What’s going on…

Mother, mother

Every body thinks we’re wrong

Who are they to judge us

Just because our hair is long

You know we’ve got to find a way

To bring some understanding today

“Sunday Bloody Sunday” by U2 [Listen on iTunes Music Store] [ Index | Top ]

I can’t believe the news today

Oh, I can’t close my eyes

And make it go away

How long…

How long must we sing this song?

How long? How long…

’cause tonight…we can be as one

Tonight…

Broken bottles under children’s feet

Bodies strewn across the dead end street

But I won’t heed the battle call

It puts my back up

Puts my back up against the wall

Sunday, Bloody Sunday

Sunday, Bloody Sunday

Sunday, Bloody Sunday

And the battle’s just begun

There’s many lost, but tell me who has won

The trench is dug within our hearts

And mothers, children, brothers, sisters

Torn apart

Sunday, Bloody Sunday

Sunday, Bloody Sunday

How long…

How long must we sing this song?

How long? How long…

’cause tonight…we can be as one

Tonight…tonight…

Sunday, Bloody Sunday

Sunday, Bloody Sunday

Wipe the tears from your eyes

Wipe your tears away

Oh, wipe your tears away

Oh, wipe your tears away

(Sunday, Bloody Sunday)

Oh, wipe your blood shot eyes

(Sunday, Bloody Sunday)

Sunday, Bloody Sunday (Sunday, Bloody Sunday)

Sunday, Bloody Sunday (Sunday, Bloody Sunday)

And it’s true we are immune

When fact is fiction and TV reality

And today the millions cry

We eat and drink while tomorrow they die

(Sunday, Bloody Sunday)

The real battle just begun

To claim the victory Jesus won

On…

Sunday Bloody Sunday

Sunday Bloody Sunday…

“Ride Across the River” by Dire Straits [Listen on iTunes Music Store] [ Index | Top ]

I’m a soldier of freedom in the army of man

We are the chosen, we’re the partisan

The cause it is noble and the cause it is just

We are ready to pay with our lives if we must

Gonna ride across the river deep and wide

Ride across the river to the other side

I’m a soldier of fortune, I’m a dog of war

And we don’t give a damn who the killing is for

It’s the same old story with a different name

Death or glory, it’s the killing game

Gonna ride across the river deep and wide

Ride across the river to the other side

Nothing gonna stop them as the day follows the night

Right becomes wrong, the left becomes the right

And they sing as they march with their flags unfurled

Today in the mountains, tomorrow the world

Gonna ride across the river deep and wide

Ride across the river to the other side

“Brothers in Arms” by Dire Straits [Listen on iTunes Music Store] [ Index | Top ]

These mist covered mountains

Are a home now for me

But my home is the lowlands

And always will be

Some day you’ll return to

Your valleys and your farms

And you’ll no longer burn

To be brothers in arms

Through these fields of destruction

Baptisms of fire

I’ve watched all your suffering

As the battles raged higher

And though they did hurt me so bad

In the fear and alarm

You did not desert me

My brothers in arms

There’s so many different worlds

So many differents suns

And we have just one world

But we live in different ones

Now the sun’s gone to hell

And the moon’s riding high

Let me bid you farewell

Every man has to die

But it’s written in the starlight

And every line on your palm

We’re fools to make war

On our brothers in arms

 

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