A Brief History
On August 8, 2017, country and pop music superstar Glen Campbell passed away. Campbell had a Gold and Platinum singing career and a successful acting career as well, and the first song that put him in the public eye was “Universal Soldier,” reaching #45 on the charts.
Written by singer/songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie, an indigenous Canadian woman, her original rendition did not rock the airwaves, but when Scottish singer Donovan and American Glen Campbell covered the song in 1965 the tune became an anti-war icon.
Other famous anti-war tunes such as Edwin Starr’s “War,” PF Sloan’s “Eve of Destruction” made famous by Barry McGuire, “Zombie” by the Cranberries, and others are valid competition for the “greatest anti-war song.” We vote for “Universal Soldier.” Which anti-war song gets your nomination as the greatest?
Question for students (and subscribers): Do you believe “Gimme Shelter,” “All Along the Watchtower,” “War Pigs,” and “What’s Goin’ On?” are anti-war songs? Please let us know in the comments section below this article.
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For more information, please see…
Lynskey, Dorian. 33 Revolutions per Minute: A History of Protest Songs, from Billie Holiday to Green Day. Ecco, 2011.
Sullivan, James. Which Side Are You On?: 20th Century American History in 100 Protest Songs. Oxford University Press, 2019.
The featured image in this article, a photograph of singer-musician Glen Campbell, is in the public domain in the United States because it was published in the United States between 1927 and 1977, inclusive, without a copyright notice. For further explanation, see Commons:Hirtle chart as well as a detailed definition of “publication” for public art.
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