Bruce Springsteen: ‘War’ (1986)

springsteen war

War is a popular anti-war song, recorded by the Temptations, Edwin Starr and Bruce Springsteen. War was penned by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong in 1969. Both were prolific songwriters in the Motown music scene in the United States.

The lyrics of War are a series of statements and condemnations about the nature of war. Its repeating chorus, backed by a powerful drum beat, asks and answers the question: “War. What is it good for? Absolutely nothing.”

War was initially recorded by Motown quintet The Temptations, whose record company declared it too politically provocative for the group.

It was then re-recorded and released by Edwin Starr, another Motown performer. Starr’s version reached number one on the US singles chart and remained there for three weeks.

In the mid-1980s, American singer-songwriter Bruce Springsteen covered War as a protest against the Reagan administration’s aggressive foreign policy in Central America. Initially played live, Springsteen’s version of War was released as a single and reached the US top 10.

The live version contains a preamble where Springsteen warns his audience that “blind faith in your leaders, or in anything, will get you killed”.

Two years after its release, Springsteen became one of the first Western rock singers to perform in East Berlin (July 1988). Springsteen’s concert there attracted a crowd of between 200,000 and 300,000 people.

War! What is it good for? Absolutely nothing
War! What is it good for? Absolutely nothing

War is something that I despise
For it means the destruction of innocent lives
For it means tears in thousands of mothers’ eyes
When their sons go out to fight to give their lives

War! What is it good for? Absolutely nothing
Say it again
War! What is it good for? Absolutely nothing

War! It’s nothing but a heartbreaker
War! Friend only to the undertaker
War is the enemy of all mankind
The thought of war blows my mind
Handed down from generation to generation
Induction destruction… Who wants to die, in a

War! What is it good for? Absolutely nothing
Say it again
War! What is it good for? Absolutely nothing

War has shattered many young men’s dreams
Made them disabled bitter and mean
Life is too precious to be fighting wars each day
War can’t give life it can only take it away

War! It’s nothing but a heartbreaker
War! Friend only to the undertaker

Peace love and understanding
There must be some place for these things today
They say we must fight to keep our freedom
But Lord there’s gotta be a better way
That’s better than

War! What is it good for? Absolutely nothing
Say it again
War! What is it good for? Absolutely nothing

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