Many of the lyrics in Bruce Springsteen’s “War” are very negative towards all wars past, present and future. The song starts off with the chorus which states “War. What is it good for? Absolutely nothing. Say it again, War. What is it good for? Absolutely nothing.” (Strong and Whitfield) Obviously, these lyrics are saying that there is no reason for war, we cannot accomplish anything from war. Springsteen had a very negative image of wars in general, he was a teen during World War 2 but did not get drafted. But he knew so many that did get drafted and felt like the US should not have been involved with the Vietnam War.
The song goes on to talk about what war does to those involved in it. The lyrics that speak to me the most are “War has shattered many young men’s dreams. Made them disabled bitter and mean. Life is too precious to be fighting wars each day. War can’t give life, it can only takes it away.” (Strong and Whitfield) Many of the men that served in our military during this time were young, they were fresh, eighteen year old boys that were drafted and didn’t have any say in whether they fought or not. Then, these young men go on to either become very proud servicemen or vehemently oppose all wars in the future. The last line of the section about how war only takes life away is my favorite line in the song, so many people die in all wars. The people that die aren’t even just the ones fighting, the civilians that are in the just in the same area including children die as well. A lot of the deaths in Vietnam included children that had nothing to do with it. So although Springsteen did not write the song, we can clearly feel all of his negative feelings throughout. Next week, we will discuss what was going on in the US when Bruce Springsteen released his version of the song.
Springsteen, Bruce. Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band Live, 1975-85. By Barrett Strong and Norman Whitfield. Columbia Records/CBS, 1986. CD.