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|"The War Is Over"|
|Song by Phil Ochs
from the album Tape from California
|"The War Is Over"|
|Single by Phil Ochs|
|B-side||The Harder They Fall|
|Phil Ochs singles chronology|
"The War Is Over" is an anti-war song by Phil Ochs, a U.S. protest singer from the 1960s known for being a harsh critic of the American military-industrial establishment. The song, which was originally released on Tape from California (1968), has been described as "one of the most potent antiwar songs of the 1960s". One of Ochs' biographers wrote that "The War Is Over" is his "greatest act of bravery as a topical songwriter".
In 1966, poet Allen Ginsberg decided to declare that the Vietnam War was over. The idea of ending the war simply by declaring it over appealed to Ochs, who organized a rally in Los Angeles to announce that the war was over. To publicize the rally, he wrote an article in the Los Angeles Free Press titled "Have Faith, The War Is Over":
Is everybody sick of this stinking war? In that case, friends, do what I and thousands of other Americans have done â declare the war over.
"The War Is Over" alludes to war films and their heroes and asks "what's this got to do with me?" The song describes anti-war protesters as "angry artists painting angry signs" who have become "poisoned players" in a cycle of endless anti-war demonstrations that have failed to end the war. The song mockingly suggests that young men enlist in the army to "serve your country in her suicide", but adds that "just before the end even treason might be worth a try â this country is too young to die". Each verse of the song ends with the words, "I declare the war is over, it's over, it's over".
Ochs recorded "The War Is Over" for his fifth album, Tape from California. The musical arrangement, by Bob Thompson, incorporates martial beats, brass horns, and flutes. It includes quotes from John Philip Sousa's patriotic march "Stars and Stripes Forever", implying that opposition to the Vietnam War was patriotic. As the song fades out, the horns play part of Ochs's own "I Ain't Marching Anymore".
Ochs first performed the song in public at the "War Is Over" rally in Los Angeles on June 23, 1967. "The War Is Over" became one of Ochs' best-known songs about the Vietnam War. He performed it in front of 150,000 demonstrators in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., on October 21, 1967.
In November, Ochs planned a "War Is Over" rally in New York. After Ochs sang "The War Is Over", several thousand demonstrators marched from Washington Square Park to Times Square and then to the United Nations.
In August 1968, Ochs performed "The War Is Over" during the protests outside the Democratic National Convention, inspiring hundreds of young men to burn their draft cards. When Ochs sang the line "even treason might be worth a try â this country is too young to die", he was interrupted by five minutes of cheering. He couldn't finish the song and had to leave the stage.
A&M Records released "The War Is Over" as a single in 1968. The B-side of the single was "The Harder They Fall", another song from Tape from California. The version of "The Harder They Fall" on the single is a rock version of the song that has never been released on any album or compilation.
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