Best Anti War/Protest Songs

I’ve always thought Eric Burdon and the Animals Sky Pilot was the best anti war/protest. However there’s plenty of other opinions and I’d be interested to hear yours.


My contribution as a big fan of JA Music and Jimmy Cliff, his song that Bob Dylan no less apparently said was the best protest song he had heard.


Plenty of performances on youtube, here is a live one from 2005 referencing Iraq, Blair n Bush


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Michelle Gurevich - Goodbye My Dictator (2022)

Bruce Springsteen ‘War’ On the big ‘Live’ box

No Joan Baez ?

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Threads only 5 posts old there’s plenty of time. You can include one.


Robb Johnson

Track 8, We All Said Stop The War
Track 7, When Harry Took Me To See Ypres

Cold Chisel - Khe Sanh. Great anti war song.

I left my heart to the sappers 'round Khe Sanh
And the soul was sold with my cigarettes to the blackmarket man
I had the Vietnam cold turkey from the ocean to the Silver City
And it’s only other vets could understand

About the long forgotten dockside guarantees
How there were no V-Day heroes in 1973
How we sailed into Sydney Harbor, I saw an old friend but I couldn’t kiss her
Well, she was lined, and I was home to the lucky land

Well, she was like so many more from that time on
Their lives were all so empty 'until they found their chosen one
And their legs were often open, but their minds were always closed
And their hearts were held in fast suburban chains

And the legal pads were yellow, hours long, pay-packets lean
And the telex writers clattered where the gunships once had been
Car parks make me jumpy, and I never stopped the dreams
Or the growing need for speed and Novocain

So I worked across the country from end to end
Tried to find a place to settle down, where my mixed up life could mend
I held a job on an oil rig, flyin’ choppers when I could
Oh, but the nightlife nearly drove me 'round the bend

And I’ve traveled 'round the world from year to year
And each one found me aimless, one more year the worse for wear
And I’ve been back to Southeast Asia, and the answer sure ain’t there
But I’m drifting north, to check things out again, yes, I am

Well, the last plane out of Sydney’s almost gone
And only seven flying hours, and I’ll be landing in Hong Kong
And there ain’t nothing like the kisses from a jaded Chinese princess
I’m gonna hit some Hong Kong mattress all night long

Well, the last plane out of Sydney’s almost gone
You know the last plane out of Sydney’s almost gone
And it’s really got me worried, I’m goin’ nowhere and I’m in a hurry
You know the last plane out of Sydney’s almost gone

Well, the last plane out of Sydney’s almost gone
You know the last plane out of Sydney’s almost gone
No, it’s really got me worried, I’m goin’ nowhere and I’m in a hurry
You know the last plane out of Sydney’s almost gone

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The Piccolo Snare - Super Furry Animals. Powerful stuff

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And not forgetting the brilliant ‘I can’t write left handed’ by Bill Withers


Benjamin Britten’s settings of Wilfred Owen in his War Requiem, beautiful and terrifying.

Dylan’s Masters of War, as angry as any song gets.

The Green Fields of France (Furey Brothers and others), how poignant is this?


Australia has a great history of anti war songs because of unpopular participation in the Vietnam war. This only was the catalyst for this thread.

I Was Only 19 (A Walk in the Light Green) by Redgum

Mum and Dad and Denny saw the passing out parade at Puckapunyal
It was a long march from cadets
The sixth battalion was the next to tour and it was me who drew the card
We did Canungra and Shoalwater before we left

And Townsville lined the footpaths as we marched down to the quay
This clipping from the paper shows us young and strong and clean
And there’s me in me slouch hat with me SLR and greens
God help me - I was only nineteen

From Vung Tau riding Chinooks to the dust at Nui Dat
I’d been in and out of choppers now for months
And we made our tents a home, V.B. and pinups on the lockers
And an Asian orange sunset through the scrub

And can you tell me, doctor, why I still can’t get to sleep?
And night time’s just a jungle dark and a barking M.16?
And what’s this rash that comes and goes, can you tell me what it means?
God help me - I was only nineteen

A four week operation, when each step can mean your last one on two legs
It was a war within yourself
But you wouldn’t let your mates down ‘til they had you dusted off
So you closed your eyes and thought about somethin’ else

And then someone yelled out “Contact”, and the bloke behind me swore
We hooked in there for hours, then a God almighty roar
And Frankie kicked a mine the day that mankind kicked the moon
God help me - he was goin’ home in June

I can still see Frankie, drinkin’ tinnies in the Grand Hotel
On a thirty-six hour rec. leave in Vung Tau
And I can still see Frankie, lying screaming in the jungle
'Til the morphine came and killed the bloody row

And the Anzac legends didn’t mention mud and blood and tears
And the stories that my father told me never seemed quite real-
I caught some pieces in my back, that I didn’t even feel
God help me - I was only 19
And can you tell me doctor why I still can’t get to sleep
And the Channel 7 chopper chills me to my feet
And what’s this rash that comes and goes can you tell me what it means
God help me - I was only nineteen

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A protest about war and social injustice. A beautiful song that I keep coming back to, but I find myself conflicted over the lyrics.

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Paul Hardcastle - 19


Jimi Hendrix - Machine Gun.
A long loose jam protest of the Vietnam war.


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June Tabor - The Band Played Waltzing Mathilda… heartbreaking :mending_heart:


The original by Eric Bogle a Scottish/Australian is worth a listen too.


The banks of the Nile, as popularised by Sand Denny and sung by many others, is an anti war song from the Napoleonic wars, around 1801.
Here’s a more recent version that I admire.