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The Vietnam War Music

Country Joe and the Fish, I Feel Like I'm Fixin to Die (1967)

I Feel Like is an early album from one of the most outspoken anti-war rock bands of the '60s. The title track, "I Feel Like I'm Fixin to Die Rag" (also called "The Fish Cheer") was a popular anthem of the anti-war movement. It's an ironic, up-beat sing-along—"And it's one, two, three. / What are we fighting for?"—that comments on the lunacy of the Vietnam War and the ultimate price paid by those who must fight it—"Well there ain't no time to wonder why. / Whoopee! We're all gonna die!"

Black Sabbath, Paranoid (1971)

One of Black Sabbath's best selling, most notorious albums, Paranoid has been cited as one of the first "heavy metal" records in rock and roll history. Paranoid is thunderous, demonic, and bass-heavy with chilly tracks such as "Iron Man," "Paranoid," and "War Pigs," an anti-Vietnam song with references to bloody battlefields and corrupt politicians. Sabbath's anti-war music sounds quite different from many of the rock songs that came out of the Vietnam protest movements, but the essence of its message is very similar.

Creedence Clearwater Revival, Willy and the Poor Boys (1969)

This group is a San Francisco Bay Area rock legend from the Vietnam era. The band's sound is distinctly rock and roll, but flavored with a soulful country tone. Willy and the Poor Boys is perhaps CCR's most moving record, featuring a number of memorable working-class anthems. "Fortune Son" is a stand out, a song written from the perspective of a young man drafted into the Vietnam War; he has no choice but to go—and perhaps die—because he's no "senator's son" or a "fortunate one."

The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Are You Experienced (1967)

Some music spoke to the soldiers on the warfront who, whenever they could, listened to transistor radios on the base or in their bunkers. Many radio stations played Jimi Hendrix hits, like "Purple Haze," "Foxy Lady," and "The Wind Cries Mary." The JH Experience was a favorite among G.I.s for the band's aggressive, spontaneous sound, Hendrix's soulful lyrics, and the subtle (and not-so-subtle) references to love, sex, and drugs.

Bob Dylan, The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan (1963)

This early studio album from one of the legends of folk rock has been ranked by Rolling Stone magazine as one of the greatest albums of all time. Though it was released during the early years of the Vietnam War, before mass anti-war protests had taken shape, this record contains some of the songs that have come to be most associated with that movement, including "Blowin' in the Wind," "Masters of War," "A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall," and "Talkin' World War III Blues."

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