Edwin Starr’s plea for peace

Almost fifty years ago, Edwin Starr belted out an anthem simply called “War.” Written by Barret Strong and Norman Whitfield, Starr’s disdain for war and its aftermath comes through in his powerful rendition.

As I thought of this song, I mentally included it with two others – John Fogerty’s “Fortunate Son” he sang with CCR and Pete Seeger’s “Where have all the Flowers gone,” sung so well by Peter, Paul and Mary. These three songs come at this topic with sadness, skepticism and disdain.

But, for now, here are the lyrics to “War.”

War, huh, yeah
What is it good for
Absolutely nothing
War, huh, yeah
What is it good for
Absolutely nothing
Say it again, why’all
War, huh, good god
What is it good for
Absolutely nothing, listen to me
Oh, war, I despise
‘Cause it means destruction of innocent lives
War means tears to thousands of mothers eyes
When their sons go to fight
And lose their lives
I said, war, huh good god, why’all
What is it good for
Absolutely nothing say it again
War, whoa, lord
What is it good for
Absolutely nothing, listen to me
it ain’t nothing but a heart-breaker
(War) friend only to the undertaker
Oh, war it’s an enemy to all mankind
The point of war blows my mind
War has caused unrest
Within the younger generation
Induction then destruction
Who wants to die, ah, war-huh, good god why’all
What is it good for
Absolutely nothing
Say it, say it, say it
War, huh
What is it good for
Absolutely nothing listen to me
it ain’t nothing but a heart breaker
(War) it’s got one friend that’s the undertaker
Oh, war, has shattered many a young mans dreams
Made him disabled, bitter and mean
Life is much to short and precious
To spend fighting wars these days
War can’t give life
It can only take it away
Oh, war, huh good god why’all
What is it good for
Absolutely nothing say it again
whoa, lord
What is it good for
Absolutely nothing listen to me
it ain’t nothing but a heart breaker
(War) friend only to the undertaker
Peace, love and understanding
Tell me, is there no place for them today
They say we must fight to keep our freedom
But lord knows there’s got to be a better way
Oh, war, huh good god why’all
What is it good for you tell me
Say it, say it, say it, say it
huh good god why’all
What is it good for
Stand up and shout it nothing

Truly, what is it good for? Starr asks an excellent question, one we must ask before we send our young men and women into harm’s way.

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7 thoughts on “Edwin Starr’s plea for peace

  1. Dear Keith,
    How apropos for this time as the WH is using saber rattling against Korea when every military expert knows that there is no viable military option that can be used against Korea.
    Thanks for this reminder that war is not to be easily considered.
    Hugs, Gronda

    • Thanks Gronda. We fail to learn lessons that we should exhaust every means before we embark down that path. And, when we do we must have a plan and know what success looks like. We failed to heed this in Vietnam, so we committed the same mistakes in Iraq and Afghanistan. As a result, American and Allied soldiers, as well as civilians and the enemy combatants die or are harmed.

      Keith

  2. ‘The Best and the Brightest’ by David Halberstam charting the decision making and thought processes leading up to US combat troops entering Vietnam is an educational read (forgive me if I have mentioned it before- recently listened to it as an audio-book)

    • Roger, you may have shared this before. I look forward to reading it. Ken Burns is doing a series on PBS about the Vietnam War, which I look forward to watching. We involved ourselves with a less than helpful regime in both Vietnam and in Iraq. We failed to understand the complexities of the relationships. And, the comparisons go on. Keith

  3. Note to Readers: It should be noted Tony Blair continues to get criticism after a UK Commission ruled he was oversold the reason for joining the US in the invasion of Iraq. President Bush has faced no such formal review and it was his team that overstated the evidence, including falsely using a recon effort by a former Ambassador and then outing his CIA wife (Valerue Plame) when he complained.

    But, what saddens me further is once we decided to go in, we put our troops in danger with too few of them, insufficient equipment, too few interpretaters and allying with some less than scrutable sources. We owe it to our troops to have a well thought and executed plan.

  4. Note to Readers: A sequel of an original thought. In the suggested posts beneath this one is a post with an identical theme – the Edwin Starr song. Well, I had the same idea twice. I actually like the first one better. By the way, this is not the first time I have done this, but I guess it is OK to plagiarize yourself.

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