The Vietnam War happened during the time when many of the 20th Century’s most defining rock tracks emerged. With an aim to convey social commentary, much of that classic rock music served to inspire social changes, upheavals, and motivation among soldiers and citizens alike. Here are a few of the most popular now "classic" rock songs of the Vietnam War era.
Fortunate Son, by Creedence Clearwater Revival
Fortunate Son sung by not-so-fortunate son is an anti-war song that holds a counter-culture message. The song was initially inspired by David Eisenhower’s grandson and then-President Richard Nixon’s daughter’s wedding in 1968 when the rest of the world was inclined towards war. The song depicts those who support war up to their words and not in actions because they are not interested in contributing, they're just there to wave the flag.
Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay, by Otis Redding
Released in 1968, Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay was a widely popular track during the Vietnam War era. Admired by troops for its nostalgic melody, the song praises the emotional turmoil people were going through at that time and how one should strive to have a peaceful life despite hopelessness and despair.
We Gotta Get Out of this Place, by The Animals
Another anti-war song, We Gotta Get Out of this Place was a part of the iconic film Hamburger Hill. The song has an emotional appeal to find a way to a better life and resonated with the feelings of soldiers stationed in Vietnam. US disc jockeys played it frequently and it became an anthem of the time.
The Letter, by The Box Tops
Another hit of the era, The Letter by The Box Tops depicts how exciting it is to return home to your loved ones. It is about a boy who had received a love letter from his former girlfriend requesting him to return back home because she couldn’t live without him anymore. The song resonates with the feelings of soldiers stationed in South Vietnam as well as many citizens who were dying to return to their loved ones.
All Along The Watchtower, by Jimi Hendrix
When it comes to the Vietnam War, watchtowers can be visualized in abundance. The iconic image symbolized oppression and touched the hearts of people struggling in the time. In general, this song gives a suspicious and dangerous vibe instead of the outrageously violent situation.
I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin-to-Die Rag, by Country Joe & The Fish
Released by Country Joe McDonald in 1965 when the Vietnam War was at its peak, this song resonates with the feelings and humor shared among the troops. The lyrics were about the role and attitude of the US government, and how credit is given to politicians and leaders instead of soldiers fighting for the country. McDonald, a Navy vet, wrote the song in 30 minutes and implied that many people were just out to make money from the war.
For What Its Worth’, by Buffalo Springfield
Written by Buffalo Springfield guitarist Stephen Stills, this was not an anti-war song projected at the circumstances of the Vietnam War but it was praised by the public to hold anti-war meaning and used at youth gatherings protesting anti-loitering laws and the closure of the West Hollywood nightclub Pandora's Box. The song was frequently played by people in Vietnam as the lyrics reflect their feelings and anxiety in times of war and violence.
Run Through The Jungle, by Creedance Clearwater Revival
Written by Creedence's lead singer, guitarist, and songwriter, John Fogerty, Run Through the jungle was released in 1970. It was another hit song of the Vietnam War era and was assumed to depict the true scenery of the time. However, both the title and the lyrics as well as the year in which it was released go hand in hand in aiding the assumption. The song was actually about the proliferation of guns in the United States.
War, by Edwin Starr
Last but not least, War by Edwin Starr is yet another anti-war rock hit of the time. The song suggests the meaningless violence and how future generations would have a meaningless life. It also depicts the horror of war and how losing people didn’t have become a norm. it had nationwide campaigns for the release.