“Eve of Destruction” was written by nineteen year old P.F. Sloan in 1964. Barry McGuire recorded it in 1965 and soon after it became “the biggest protest song to date.” The media tore the song apart because they feared it was a “cheapening protest” and would give the enemy the wrong idea about America’s outlook on the war.
The lyrics list many different terrible events happening in that time period and promote fear in the american people. Lyrics like “violence flarin’, bullets loadin’/you’re old enough to kill but not for votin’” and “if the button is pushed, there’s no runnin’ away/there’ll be no one to save with the world in a grave” give clues to listeners that this song is about Vietnam and nuclear warfare. Sloan writes with a disheartening tone because he seems to have given up on faith in humanity. Many people felt this way about the Vietnam War because countless lives were lost and the war seemed to drag on forever.
Despite the media’s rage, the song became popular due to the large amount of “youthful frustration” in the 1960s. Even though many “radio and TV stations banned” the tune, the record sold “six million copies” and “topped the charts two months” after coming out. Many young men were drafted even though they were not even old enough to vote, as Sloan states in the song. That was a frustrating time for kids who were forced to get involved in a long, violent war. Sloan writes, “and marches alone can’t bring integration/when human respect is disintegratin’/this whole crazy world is just too frustratin’.” In other words, he feels that none of the protests have made progress towards the end of the war and the large loss of peace and respect among the people is unsatisfying.
“Eve of Destruction” brought much controversy to the media in the mid 1960s. The lyrics mention so many touchy subjects in our country and was not accepted by everyone. Even if the song was not accepted fully, Sloan and McGuire managed to get their point across in this protest song to americans all over the country.
Lynskey, Dorian. 33 Revolutions per Minute: A History of Protest Songs, from Billie Holiday to Green Day. New York: HarperCollins, 2011. Print.