oh it's a lovely war

At a time of intense public debate about whether Britain should go to war or not, here are five anti-war hits – songs that many people didn’t even realise were about war:

1. THE MONKEES – Last Train to Clarksville
Members of the Monkees later said the only way they could get their 1966 anti-Vietnam War hit to even get air time – never mind get to number 1 – was by making it sound like an upbeat love song. It’s actually about a young Vietnam conscript seeing his girlfriend for the last time before he gets sent off to be killed:

“And I don’t know If I’m ever coming home”

Costello’s 1982 anti-Falklands War song was relatively subtle in its anti-war polemic – but so much more powerful for it:

“Within weeks they’ll be re-opening the shipyards
And notifying the next of kin”

3. PRINCE – Money Don’t Matter 2 Night
The only song (I think) written in protest against the first Gulf War in 1990. And no – it’s not about gambling:

“So what if we’re controlling all the oil,
Is it worth a child dying for?”

4. REM – Orange Crush
The orange referred to in the title is not an orange-flavoured drink- but the infamous Agent Orange:

“High on the booze, In a tent
Paved with blood, Nine inch howl
Brave the night, Chopper comin’ in”


Ronald Reagan thought it was a patriotic anthem, and many Americans still do. But shhh! The chorus is meant to be sarcastic:

“I had a brother at Khe Sahn
Fighting off the Viet Cong
They’re still there, he’s all gone”

Did I miss any? If so, please feel free to tell me in the comments below…