Vietnam War Protest Songs

This is a Guest Post by Michael Ezra

The 1960s was an important period in socialist history. It saw the rise of the New Left, those that looked to third world revolutionary leaders such as Che Guevara, Mao Tse Tung and Ho Chi Minh for inspiration. As opposed to the Old Left of course, which idolised Stalin and the Soviet Union. The movement reached its zenith in 1968, a year that as Tod Gitlin reports (The Sixties [Bantam Books, 1993]p.344),  an opinion poll of US college students showed more of them identifying with Che Guevara (20 percent) than with any of the presidential candidates. Max Elbaum adds (Revolution in the Air [Verso,2006] p.40), “For thousands and even tens of thousands … revolution had become the most important thing in their lives.”

Dominating much of the New Left’s political activity for the latter part of the decade was opposition to the Vietnam War. The 1960s will be remembered by those that were teenagers and in their twenties during it for many things – sexual liberation, mind altering drugs and the music scene. It was not surprising that many put pen to paper and composed songs either against the war, in favour of peace or in favour of a win by Ho Chi Minh and the Vietcong. Below are a few of those songs, all of which have been taken from Barbara Dane and Irwin Silber’s The Vietnam Songbook (Guardian Books, 1969): (more…)

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