The Vietnam War era had a playlist like no other. The social changes, economic upheavals, and disillusionment with the war motivated artistic expression, with music at the center. Songs like House of the Rising Sun and We’ve Gotta Get Out of this Place played an important role for soldiers and citizens alike.
Whether you’re a Vietnam veteran or a music enthusiast, many of these songs are probably on your playlist. Let’s take a look at some of the most famous songs from the Vietnam War era.
All Along the Watchtower, Bob Dylan / Jimi Hendrix
The song was originally recorded and released by Bob Dylan, All Along the Watchtower is best identified with Jimi Hendrix. Hendrix’s version received a Grammy Hall of Fame award in 2001 and was ranked 47th in Rolling Stone magazine’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time in 2004.
While the song only has three verses (with no chorus), it is jam-packed with meaning and drama. The lyrics have plenty of symbolism, which have been analyzed by fans throughout the years. While the song’s true meaning may only be known to Bob Dylan, listeners can agree that it is about the need for change.
Gimme Shelter, The Rolling Stones
Rolling Stones frontman, Mick Jagger, said that he and guitarist Keith Richards drew their inspiration directly from the Vietnam War. In an interview with NPR in 2012, Jagger said, “It was a very moody piece about the world closing in on you a bit. When it was recorded, early ’69 or something, it was a time of war and tension, so that’s reflected in this tune.”
Gimme Shelter not only became a Rolling Stone staple during their live shows but quickly became a counter-culture favorite.