5 Classic Rock Songs with Political Messages

If you want to send a message, wrap it in a classic rock song. The musical genre has enough power to rival the Hoover Dam and it provides a catchy, musical, charismatic venue for the exchange of ideas. That’s why the tumultuous 1960s, with its civil rights work and flower power philosophies, was rich with classic rock tunes.

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For more, specific evidence, look no further than this handful of songs below. All of them say something while also providing rhythms and stories that stick in your mind like a good meal. Here are five classic rock songs with political messages.

[RELATED: 6 of the Best Classic Rock Deep Cuts]

1. “Born in the U.S.A.,” Bruce Springsteen

When many hear this Bruce Springsteen song, they sing along with the chorus, filling their lungs with patriotism. However, the underlying message of the song is not one of American pride. At least, not entirely. In fact, this song is one of protest against the Vietnam War and the aftereffects that many veterans felt upon coming home to a country that didn’t provide a warm enough welcome for their sacrifice.

2. “The Times They Are A-Changin’,” Bob Dylan

In the 1960s, the most well-known protest songwriter was Bob Dylan, whether he liked the title or not. It was thanks to songs like “The Times They Are A-Changin'” that he got this reputation. With his acoustic guitar, Dylan wrote scathing verses battling fascism, like his hero Woody Guthrie, and warmongering. In this song, he talks about the constant that is change in society, noting that the world better open up and recognize his generation.

3. “My Generation,” The Who

This song from the British-born rock band The Who is all about acknowledging their peer group. As the ’60s were unfolding, so too was a backlash against the long-haired rockers like those in this electrified group. This song was also one of the band’s first big hits. If parents are going to have children, they’d better recognize the new generation’s sovereignty. This song is the anthem for that idea.

4. “War,” Edwin Starr

The message of this song is all in the chorus. While the song was first performed by the Motown band The Temptations, it was Edwin Starr who made it his own with his big booming tank-like voice.

War, huh, yeah
What is it good for?
Absolutely nothing, uhh
War, huh, yeah
What is it good for?
Absolutely nothing
Say it again, y’all

5. “Fortunate Son,” Creedence Clearwater Revival

Released in 1969, this song is another anti-Vietnam offering. “The thoughts behind this song—it was a lot of anger,” CCR frontman John Fogerty said in 2015. “So it was the Vietnam War going on. … Now I was drafted and they’re making me fight, and no one has actually defined why. So this was all boiling inside of me and I sat down on the edge of my bed and out came, It ain’t me, it ain’t me, I ain’t no senator’s son! You know, it took about 20 minutes to write the song.”

Photo Credit: Rob DeMartin / Courtesy of Shore Fire Media

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