Watching the various Woodstock retrospectives brought to mind some of the anti-war songs of that era. There was Phil Ochs’ “I ain’t marching any more,” Freda Payne’s “Bring the Boys Home” and of course Country Joe and the Fish’s “I Feel Like I’m Fixin’ to Die,” which debuted at Woodstock with its memorable “One, two, three, what am I fighting for? Don’t ask me cause I don’t give a damn, next stop is Vietnam.” I’m sure there were other songs that I no longer recall but I do remember that Armed Forces Radio banned Country Joe and, for a time, Freda Payne. Even the songs that might have been seen as pro-war had a lugubrious quality, hardly very gung-ho. In basic training we used to march along singing to the tune of the Coasters’ “Poison Ivy” which included lines about friends dying and the refrain “Vee-yet-nam, Vee-yet-nam, late at night while you’re sleeping Charley Cong comes a creeping all around.”
Even though Vietnam was a war that made some sense in the context of the Cold War and Iraq and AfPak make no sense whatsoever, there have been no antiwar songs that I am aware of, which possibility explains the anemic state of the antiwar movement in general (though more likely it results from the lack of any middle class kids being drafted for the conflict). TAC might be interested in launching a competititon for the best new song to describe Mr. Obama’s war. For starters Barack and AfPak do rhyme and both Petraeus and Hillary possess a certain euphonious quality. particularly if one engages in a little syncopation by accenting the last syllables of their names. Weapons of mass destruction and improvised explosive devices do, however, present some problems.