Protest 100: Guns n’ Roses – ‘Civil War’

 

Artist:          Guns n’ Roses

Song:           Civil War

Album:        Use Your Illusion II (1991)

Producer:    Mike Clink

Label:          Geffen

Year:           1990 (‘Nobody’s Child: Romanian Angel Appeal),

Notes:

Not only is this an actual anti-war song written by what at the time was the most dangerous band in the world, its lyrics are infused with first-hand civil rights movement experience. Vocalist W. Axl Rose penned most of the words, but bassist Duff McKagan contributed the line “Did you wear the black arm band when they shot the man who said: ‘Peace could last forever’?” based on going to a march as a young child with his mom in remembrance of Martin Luther King.’ The song, appropriately enough given the times, was reintroduced as a staple of Guns n’ Roses’ live set in 2019.

Excerpt from ‘Unreality’ (now seeking publisher!) –
“This compromise was sold to the civil libertarians as bringing the bogeyman out of the closet and to hawkish right-wingers as more effective law enforcement.”

Lyrics:

Look at your young men fighting
Look at your women crying
Look at your young men dying
The way they’ve always done before

Look at the hate we’re breeding
Look at the fear we’re feeding
Look at the lives we’re leading
The way we’ve always done before

My hands are tied
The billions shift from side to side
And the wars go on with brainwashed pride
For the love of God and our human rights
And all these things are swept aside
By bloody hands time can’t deny
And are washed away by your genocide
And history hides the lies of our civil wars

D’you wear a black armband
When they shot the man
Who said “peace could last forever”
And in my first memories
They shot Kennedy
I went numb when I learned to see
So I never fell for Vietnam
We got the wall of D.C. to remind us all
That you can’t trust freedom
When it’s not in your hands
When everybody’s fightin’
For their promised land
And

I don’t need your civil war
It feeds the rich while it buries the poor
Your power hungry sellin’ soldiers
In a human grocery store
Ain’t that fresh
I don’t need your civil war
Ow, oh no, no, no, no, no

Look at the shoes you’re filling
Look at the blood we’re spilling
Look at the world we’re killing
The way we’ve always done before
Look in the doubt we’ve wallowed
Look at the leaders we’ve followed
Look at the lies we’ve swallowed
And I don’t want to hear no more

My hands are tied
For all I’ve seen has changed my mind
But still the wars go on as the years go by
With no love of God or human rights
‘Cause all these dreams are swept aside
By bloody hands of the hypnotized
Who carry the cross of homicide
And history bears the scars of our civil wars

I don’t need your civil war
It feeds the rich while it buries the poor
Your power hungry sellin’ soldiers
In a human grocery store
Ain’t that fresh
I don’t need your civil war
No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no
I don’t need your civil war
I don’t need your civil war
Your power hungry sellin’ soldiers
In a human grocery store
Ain’t that fresh
I don’t need your civil war
No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no uh-oh-uh, no uh-oh, uh no
I don’t need one more war

I don’t need one more war
No, no, no, no uh-oh-uh, no uh-oh, uh no
Whaz so civil ’bout war anyway?

‘Protest 100’s mission is two-fold: dispelling the myth that heavy metal is a brainless, socially unaware music genre, and raising awareness of the issues facing our country in the Nov. 3, 2020 election. The path won’t be exclusively metal—some punk and rap and other stuff will be in here too, including the classics—and is not a ranking. All songs are songs I’ve heard while putting this list together, ordered in a manner designed to entertain and educate.

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