50+ Best 60s Songs about War (Complete List)

60s-war-songs

The 1960s were a decade of great change and upheaval. The Cold War was in full swing, and the Vietnam War was raging.

This was a time when the world was on the brink of nuclear war, and people were understandably worried. But it was also a time of great music.

There were many songs written about the war during the 1960s, that called for peace at a time when the world seems to be at its breaking point. Let’s look at some of the best ones.


Top Best 60s Songs about War

These anti-war anthems convey the hope for peace and a world without conflict. They also serve as a reminder of the human cost of war and the destruction it leaves in its wake. These songs also represent the feelings of those who have experienced war firsthand and those who have only felt its effects from afar. Follow along the spotify playlist below.

  1. Fortunate Son – Creedence Clearwater Revival
  2. For What It’s Worth – Buffalo Springfield
  3. Paint It Black – The Rolling Stones
  4. Eve Of Destruction – Barry McGuire
  5. Vietnam – Jimmy Cliff
  6. We Gotta Get Out of This Place – The Animals
  7. The “Fish” Cheer/I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin’-to-Die Rag – Country Joe and the Fish
  8. Gimme Shelter – The Rolling Stones
  9. Leaving on a Jet Plane – John Denver
  10. Blowin’ in the Wind – Bob Dylan

Songs About the Vietnam War of the 60s

The Vietnam War was one of the most divisive and controversial conflicts in American history. The war lasted from 1955 to 1975, and it saw the United States become embroiled in a brutal conflict in Southeast Asia.

Many popular musicians of the time wrote songs about the war, reflecting the growing sense of unease and protest that was prevalent in society. Some of these songs were patriotic anthems extolling the virtues of American soldiers, while others were searing indictments of the war itself.

Whatever their viewpoint, these songs about the Vietnam War helped to shape public opinion about one of the most controversial periods in US history.

  • The War Drags On – Donovan
  • (Sittin’ On) the Dock of the Bay – Otis Redding
  • Kill for Peace – The Fugs
  • Galveston – Jimmy Webb
  • White Boots Marching in a Yellow Land – Phil Ochs
  • Talking Vietnam Pot Luck Blues – Tom Paxton

60s Pop Songs about War

Although there were a few pop songs that alluded to the Vietnam War, none of them were direct. It wasn’t until 1965 when Barry McGuire released “Eve of Destruction” that a pop song about war became a hit. The lyrics were highly critical of the government and the Vietnam War. Though it was banned by several radio stations, the song struck a chord with the many American public and went to number one on the Billboard charts.

Other artists followed suit with songs that critiqued the war effort, but none was as successful as “Eve of Destruction.” In 1967, Buffalo Springfield released “For What It’s Worth,” which was also about the Vietnam War. The song was more reflective than angry, and it peaked at number seven on the Billboard charts.

  • House of the Rising Sun – The Animals
  • Gimme Shelter – The Rolling Stones
  • 2 + 2 = ? – The Bob Seger System
  • Give Peace a Chance – John Lennon and Plastic Ono Band
  • The Unknown Soldier – The Doors
  • Masters of War – Bob Dylan

60s Songs about War Being Bad

Aside from a few patriotic anthems, most of the songs about war from the 1960s were critical of the conflict. This is reflective of the growing anti-war sentiment in the US at the time. These songs highlighted the human cost of war and the destruction it causes.

One, in particular, was “The Ballad of the Green Berets” by Staff Sergeant Barry Sadler. The song was written in support of the US military, but it was also highly criticized for its glorification of war. Despite the controversy, the song was a huge hit, reaching number one on the Billboard charts in 1966.

Here are some other notable songs about war from the 1960s that were critical of the conflict.

  • Kill for Peace – The Fugs
  • White Boots Marching in a Yellow Land – Phil Ochs
  • Come Away Melinda – Harry Belafonte
  • Epitaph – King Crimson
  • Do the Russians Want War? – Mark Bernes

60s Protest Songs about War

Many protest songs were written about the War during the time. Some of these songs were anti-war, while others were pro-peace. Either way, they all conveyed the feelings of the time.

One of the most popular anti-war songs was “Fortunate Son” by Creedence Clearwater Revival. The song is about how the rich and powerful are able to avoid being drafted into the military. This song resonated with many people at the time, as it showed that not everyone was equal when it came to war.

Another well-known protest song is “Give Peace a Chance” by John Lennon. This song is a plea for peace and an end to war. It became an anthem for the anti-war movement and is still sung today.

  • Universal Soldier – Buffy Sainte-Marie
  • For What It’s Worth – Buffalo Springfield
  • I Ain’t Marching Anymore – Phil Ochs
  • Blowin’ in the Wind – Bob Dylan
  • The War Drags On – Donovan

60s Songs about Cold War

The Cold war was in full swing during the 1960s, and it was a major source of anxiety for many people. This conflict between the US and the USSR led to a nuclear arms race, and the threat of nuclear war was always present.

This fear is reflected in many songs from the time, including “War” by Edwin Starr and “The Times They Are A-Changin'” by Bob Dylan. These songs spoke to the feelings of unease and insecurity that many people were feeling during the Cold War.

  • Back in the U.S.S.R. – The Beatles
  • 20 Tons of TNT – Flanders and Swann
  • 1983… (A Merman I Should Turn to Be) – The Jimi Hendrix Experience
  • I Come and Stand at Every Door – Pete Seeger
  • MLF Lullaby – Tom Lehrer
  • Who’s Next? – Tom Lehrer

60s Country Songs about War

Country music is all about storytelling, and many of the songs from the 1960s told stories about the Vietnam War. Not only did these songs reflect the feelings of the soldiers who were fighting, but they also showed the effects of war on the families and loved ones they left behind.

  • Galveston – Jimmy Webb
  • Hello Vietnam – Johnnie Wright
  • Dear Uncle Sam – Loretta Lynn
  • Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town – Kenny Rogers and The First Edition
  • My Son – Jan Howard
  • The War Keeps Dragging On – Wilburn Brothers

60s Songs about Nuclear War

The world was on the brink of nuclear war in the 60s. The United States and the Soviet Union were locked in a Cold War that threatened to turn hot at any moment. The two superpowers had enough nuclear weapons to destroy the world several times over, and they weren’t afraid to use them.

Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed and a deal was reached: The Soviet Union would remove its missiles from Cuba in exchange for America removing its missiles from Turkey.

This event, known as the Cuban Missile Crisis, was a close call for humanity. And like many close calls, it inspired some great songs. Here are 5 of the best:

  • A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall – Bob Dylan
  • Pride of Man – Hamilton Camp
  • The Sun Is Burning – Simon & Garfunkel
  • Crawl out Through the Fallout – Sheldon Allman
  • The Great Atomic Power – The Louvin Brothers
  • Eve Of Destruction – Barry McGuire

Wrapping Up

Not to remind but not to sound like an after-school special, war is bad. It’s a waste of human life and resources. Though today ‘s wars are fought with more technologically advanced and therefore “safer” weapons, the death and destruction they cause is still very real. The songs on this list reflect the human cost of war, and they serve as a reminder that we should do everything we can to avoid it. Peace. Thanks for reading!