MUSIC: What are we fighting for?

Music plays an important role, if not the central role for peace. It is obviously not always “peaceful”, can be the very opposite. Just witness what has happened in modern 20th century music (Rite of Spring, Allegro Barbaro and so on), and also what goes on today in diverse popular genres like death metal or techno.

But music making (and this is an important insight) is practically always peaceful.

Even the most violent band or orchestra plays together. They might dislike each other intensely, arrive in separate taxis to the concert, but take note that when they go onstage they play the SAME piece, in the SAME  key, in the SAME tempo, together.

In music making harmony reigns. That is why it is such a great model for positive peace.

Of course music can be used as a tool of dissent, protesting war and violence. Protest is of many kinds; it can be (and make others) angry, indignant, or just make you laugh. Anger I see as protowar, so I lean towards laughter, towards that which inspires, that which indicates where to go instead of where not to go.

Here is a satirical viewpoint — warpointsoundpoint — from Country Joe and the Fish.

Lyrics below. Sing along!

Give me an F.  Give me an I.  Give me an S.  Give me an H.

What’s that spell?

F I S H !!!
Well, come on all of you, big strong men,
Uncle Sam needs your help again.
He’s got himself in a terrible jam
Way down yonder in Vietnam
So put down your books and pick up a gun,
We’re gonna have a whole lotta fun.

REFRAIN: And it’s one, two, three,
What are we fighting for?
Don’t ask me, I don’t give a damn,
Next stop is Vietnam;
And it’s five, six, seven,
Open up the pearly gates,
Well there ain’t no time to wonder why,
Whoopee! we’re all gonna die.

Well, come on generals, let’s move fast,
Your big chance has come at last.
Gotta go out and get those reds
The only good commie is the one that’s dead
And you know that peace can only be won
When we’ve blown ’em all to kingdom come.


Come on Wall Street, don’t be slow,
Why man, this is war a go-go
There’s plenty good money to be made
By supplying the Army with the tools of the trade,
But just hope and pray that if they drop the bomb,
They drop it on the Viet Cong.


Come on mothers throughout the land,
Pack your boys off to Vietnam.
Come on fathers, don’t hesitate
Send them off before it’s too late.
Be the first one on the block
To have your boy come home in a box.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *