War (3:30)

Cover of War & Peace

From War & Peace and 332 other releases

“War” is a soul song written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong for the Motown label in 1969. Whitfield first produced the song — a blatant anti-Vietnam War protest — with The Temptations as the original vocalists. After Motown began receiving repeated requests to release “War” as a single, Whitfield re-recorded the song with Edwin Starr as the vocalist, deciding to withhold the Temptations’ version so as not to alienate their more conservative fans. Starr’s version of “War” was a number-one hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1970, and is not only the most successful and well-known record of his career, but is also one of the most popular protest songs ever recorded.

Edwin Starr, who had become a Motown artist in 1968 after his former label, Ric-Tic, was purchased by Motown founder Berry Gordy, Jr., became “War’s” new vocalist. Considered among Motown’s “second-string” acts, Starr had only one major hit, 1968’s number-six hit “Twenty-Five Miles”, to his name by this time.

He heard about the conflict surrounding the debate of whether or not to release “War,” and volunteered to re-record it. Whitfield re-created the song to match Starr’s James Brown-influenced soul shout: the single version of “War” was dramatic and intense, depicting the general anger and distaste the antiwar movement felt towards the war in Vietnam. Unlike the Temptations’ original, Starr’s “War” was a full-scale Whitfield production, with prominent electric guitar lines, clavinets, a heavily syncopated rhythm accented by a horn section, and with Whitfield’s new act The Undisputed Truth on backing vocals.

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  • karnickel

    1 Aug 2014 Reply
  • riverliffey

    Did you know the original title for 'War and Peace' was 'War—What Is It Good For?'

    30 Jul 2014 Reply
  • Degarmo

    AnarchyKM is an idiot apparently

    25 Jul 2014 Reply
  • AnarchyKM

    population control: survival of the smartest

    2 Jun 2014 Reply
  • thierrydesmet

    Anyway !! the Nashville Tennessee Power !!!! Hold that..... :-)

    1 Jun 2014 Reply
  • thierrydesmet

    Still Alive Boys !!!

    1 Jun 2014 Reply
  • Miles-Of-Mingus

    Damn straight!

    27 Apr 2014 Reply
  • B-AIRLINE

    CRAP VERSION

    7 Apr 2014 Reply
  • AnarchyKM

    I used to agree with this song, but since the invention of drones, we no longer clean out our gene pool

    24 Mar 2014 Reply
  • Haterkilla09

    RUSH HOUR

    12 Mar 2014 Reply
  • funkbrothersfan

    Iconic track..........love it..!!

    23 Feb 2014 Reply
  • funkbrothersfan

    WAR?????...I`m getting 25miles not that i`m complaining but...................................

    13 Oct 2013 Reply
  • Bolters

    WAR?????WHAT IS IT GOOD FOR?????????? Always liked this one !!!

    28 Sep 2013 Reply
  • TWHsr

    Cool

    31 May 2013 Reply
  • silversurfer250

    This is a protest song about the Vietnam war, although it makes a broader statement of the need for harmony in our everyday lives. This was one of the first Motown songs to make a political statement. The label had always been focused on making hit songs, but around this time Motown artists like The Temptations and Marvin Gaye started releasing songs with social commentary, many of which were written by Whitfield. http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=1029

    27 May 2013 Reply
  • architect-stamp

    rush hour!

    22 May 2013 Reply
  • TheDarkSide73

    I'm sure Richard M. Nixon hated this song, not only because it's a anti war song but because it's a song done by a black person...lol

    19 May 2013 Reply
  • uhohspagettio

    i remember singing this song with my fellow highschoolers while we skipped class to protest the war

    15 Mar 2013 Reply
  • Saulzen

    still a very potent message delivered by the mighty Ed Starr

    27 Jan 2013 Reply
  • mariemillar

    brilliant.............my brother was a gogo dancer in those days in the uk....two toned suit ..really smart ...and god could he dance.........!!!!!!!!!!! great song great memories......

    4 Dec 2012 Reply
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