The songs “Have you Forgotten” by Darryl Worley, and “Where have all the flowers gone? ” by Pete Seeger are two songs that both deliver strong messages regarding two different wars. “Have you Forgotten? ” which is a song composed to convey emotions regarding the war in Iraq delivers messages that are meant to sway people to hate war. It describes the war and all its horrors by questioning if people have in fact forgotten what it is like to be in a war and so have become indifferent of the one that was currently being fought.
“Where have all the flowers gone? ” on the other hand, which is written during the period of the Vietnam war is another song written as a series of progressive questions terminating in the sad reality that the war in Vietnam had caused so many deaths. While the song does not in any way specify whose death had been more deserved or valued in the Vietnam War, it proceeds to question these deaths in an attempt to question the war itself.
In an article, John Pareles describes that, “Songs that touched on the war in 2006 were suffused with the mournful and resentful knowledge” (2010) This is quite obvious in the song by Worley, for instance, in the lines from the chorus, “Have you forgotten, how it felt that day? / To see your homeland under fire/…And you say we shouldn’t worry bout Bin Laden…” (7-8, 12) the song seems to be didactic and even moralizing in its approach and its perception of how people perceived the war. These lines, in relation to what Pareles describes, are in fact resentful in that they express how people are indifferent about this particular war.
In addition, Pareles (2010) also states that, “Immediate responses to 9/11 and to the invasion of Iraq arrived along familiar lines. There was anger and saber-rattling at first”. This expresses how the emotions had died down when the war had began to drone on. There was only the desired response initially which eventually died down. Hence, Morley’s song very accurately describes this indifference by questioning America about its stand on the war and how America can seemingly be uncaring of what was going on.
So, in the last few lines of the song, one finds, “Have you forgotten / About our Pentagon / All the loved ones that we lost / And those left to carry on” (27-30) as the song shifts from being fierily questioning of the objectives for and reactions to the war to being deeply emotional, appealing to the better judgment of the listeners as if pleading that everybody be more reactive because the war was not just any kind of war, but it was something that took away so much from those who were in it.
Songs during the Vietnam War were equally as questioning, perhaps because that particular also had grey areas when it came to the goals and objectives of the battle. “In 1963 musicians began directly questioning the Vietnam War. ” (Anderson) and so, in the song “Where have all the flowers gone? ” by Seeger, this questioning tone is also employed. However, noticeably in the song, as it progresses, the repeated lines go from questioning where the flowers are to where the graves are; (1-40) looking at each of the stanzas, however, the more interesting recurring line is “When will they ever learn?
” (7-8, 15-16, 23-24, 31-32, 39-40) which serves the same function as the ‘Have you forgotten’ theme of the earlier song. So, in effect, this song by Seeger not only questions but also admonishes the listeners, perhaps because, “”Their music stated traditional folk themes, ones which were being voiced in the current civil rights crusade: justice, peace, and brotherly love. ” (Anderson)
Looking at these two songs side by side one can easily conclude that while both were about different wars at different periods the main message delivered is don’t people ever get tired of wars albeit the painful and agonizing effects of these exercises? So, if war songs are to be evaluated according to these two songs which are separated by decades in between, the sentiment of people when it comes to war has not changed significantly which is probably due largely to the reality that nobody wants wars regardless of the reasons.
So, while both of the songs question the audience or the listeners, the questions in both songs are meant to indirectly remind the listener of the horrors of war and to admonish and enjoin the listener to remain faithful to the precepts of peace, justice and love while actively protesting whatever justifications the government makes for conducting these bloody exercises. Works Cited Anderson, Terry. “American Popular Music and the War in Vietnam. ” (): 51-65. Print. Pareles, John.
“Pop Music and the War: The Sound of Resignation. ” New York Times. N. p. , 2 Jan. 2007. Web. 15 July 2010. <http://www. nytimes. com/2007/01/02/arts/music/02songs. html >. Seeger, Pete. “Where Have all the Flowers Gone. ” arlo. net. N. p. , 2003. Web. 15 July 2010. <http://www. arlo. net/resources/lyrics/flowers-gone. shtml>. Worley, Darryl. “Have you Forgotten?. ” Lyrics007. N. p. , 2007. Web. 15 July 2010. <http://www. lyrics007. com/Darryl%20Worley%20Lyrics/Have%20You%20Forgotten%20Lyrics. html>.
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