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Top 11 Songs for a Better World By Frank Mastropolo
hile rock ‘n’ roll has always celebrated love, laughter, and living large, its stars have also created music that has sparked social change. To abolish war, racism, hate and poverty, rockers have created anthems that have moved people to contribute money, take to the streets or just live in harmony. Songs that targeted the Vietnam War have been updated to address new conflicts; music that tackled hunger and discrimination are still relevant. Here is our list of the Top 11 Songs for a Better World.
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11. Edwin Starr – War With war raging in Vietnam in 1969, Motown’s Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong wrote what would become one of the best-selling protest songs: War. Originally recorded by the Temptations, Motown never intended to release War as a single. “It was buried on one of their albums,” soul shouter Edwin Starr told Super Seventies. “But then a lot of mail came in, mostly from students, asking why they didn’t release it on a 45. Well, that was a touchy time, and that song had some implications. It was a message record, an opinion record, and stepped beyond being sheer entertainment. It could become a smash record, and that was fine, but if it went the other way, it could kill the career of whoever the artist was.”
To avoid alienating the Tempts’ more conservative fans, Motown released War as a single by Starr, which hit number one in 1970; Bruce Springsteen also cracked the Top 10 with a live version in 1986. Starr maintained that people have misunderstood the song’s meaning. “It wasn’t about Vietnam. It never once mentioned the war in Vietnam,” Starr said. “Actually, we were talking about a war of people – the war people wage against each other on a day-to-day basis.”
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