The Soviet-Afghan War to a techno soundtrack…vaguely haunting…
I guess songs about war (or as soundtracks to war footage) either need to be in the ‘kick-ass’ vein or sentimental for those who were lost or the folly of war. The former really only have value for those steeling themselves to go there or those looking to cop a vicarious feel. I suspect the sentimental songs are the ones that stand the test of time, especially as we all get older and more susceptible to maudlin feelings over youth gone by and the waste of human life ended too quickly.
Our wars really haven’t generated iconic songs, have they? Vietnam certainly had a number as did WW2 (although I guess Korea didn’t). I’ll just take that as further evidence that our population is so removed from our wars it just hasn’t had much of an impact upon the collective consciousness. And yet, music is an important way to remember and understand the past. You can read a book about WW2 and Vietnam but I’m not sure they could capture the cultural context (as quickly and directly anyway) of listening to and comparing ‘I’ll be home for Christmas‘ versus ‘Eve of Destruction‘.
Since my formative years were really in the late ’70s and early ’80s the songs of war I grew up with were a strange lot, perhaps reflecting the unusual situation of the Cold War. 99 Luftballons? Paul Hardcastle’s ‘19‘ (which manages to be dated, disjointed and powerful all at the same time)? My favorite from the time is probably R.E.M.’s ‘Orange Crush‘