Protest Music Essay

Music is a form of art, and just as any piece of art, music sends a message. Too many people in many cultures, music is an important part of their way of life, it’s their way of expression. The Vietnam War influenced a generation of musicians and songwriters in both Vietnam and the United States. Bands were producing music about both anti-war and anti-communist to take a stand without going to war. The band Country Joe and the Fish recorded “I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin’-To-Die Rag” and “The “Fish” in 1965, and it became one of the most influential anti-Vietnam protest anthems.Music of the Vietnam era served as a rallying cry and a cause for action.

In 1965 the United States began to rise its military existence in Vietnam, and like a domino effect, the folk protest movement began to shift its focus to Vietnam. Singers like Joan Baez joined in the protest, and within a few years the protest movement was gathering steam throughout United State’s college campuses. As the draft began to reach into the student population in 1968 there were half a million US troops in Vietnam and the level of campus protests rose dramatically. 968 was the era of the flower power, and the Woodstock music festival. Rock music replaced folk music as the face of protest culture, and cultural protest combined with political demonstrations.

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American flags were destroyed on the platform at Woodstock, and Jimi Hendrix played a strange version of the American national anthem that turned many older generations’ heads. The protests got even stronger after four students were shot and killed during an anti-war demonstration at Kent State, Ohio, in 1970.On May 4, 1970 the evening news broadcasted on all networks was a story of students on the campus of Kent State University being killed by National Guardsman for exercising a peaceful protest. This is the moment that many Americans across the United States realized that the Vietnam War had come home.

Millions of Americans watched and where shock of the events that happened on that college campus. These emotions were expressed in a number of ways one of which was music. The difference between this war and pervious wars, was that this was the first generation where combat veterans were returning prior to the end of the war nd exposing what really happened in Vietnam While doing research on Vietnam protest music I found a couple of familiar songs such as “Hallelujah Day” by Jackson 5, “Purple Haze” by Jimi Hendrix, “All You Need is Love” by The Beatles and “Stop, hey what’s that sound” by Buffalo Springfield. I had no clue that these songs had anything to do with the Vietnam War.

All these songs had one thing in common they shared the same views of peace, and to bring the soldiers fighting in Vietnam home. I think during a time such as Vietnam, where there was so much hate many musicians used this era for inspiration to make art that would last generations. “


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