The Eve of Destruction – Barry McGuire 1965

This song came out in 1965 in the wake of Bob Dylan’s brilliant ‘Protest’ period. It was written by P.F. Sloan who wrote a number of good songs. At the time he and Barry McGuire were seen as Dylan imitators trying to jump on the bandwagon. Certainly the New Christy Minstrel Barry McGuire seems a little out of character.

Despite its possible plastic creation there were a lot of good things about the song. It was very prescient regarding the flare up of the Middle East.

It was written at the height of the cold war when we were all greatly aware that we lived under the assurance of instant nuclear death. It was reckoned that where I lived had at least six nuclear warheads aimed at me (why me? What had I done?). It seemed almost inevitable that we would either have a flare-up or a mistake sooner or later. We certainly felt that we were living in the Eve of Destruction.

It did sum up a lot of the issues going on at the time – the loss of respect for our politicians, the futility of the anti-war marches, the ban the bomb marches and protest in general. Then there was the hypocrisy in society; the religious people who purported to follow Jesus yet toted guns and were full of hate; the racism that fuelled so much of that hatred; and the respect that was disintegrating – hate your next door neighbour but don’t forget to say grace.

Well the hatred in Selma Alabama may have cooled a bit and Red China is no longer viewed as the number one menace but they’ve been replaced by immigrants, ISIS and a resurgent Russia and the Middle East is still ravaged by war, terrorism and madness.

You can take a holiday but you come back to the same manic madness Рviolence, fury and murder. It never stops. Nationalism still beats its mad drum and thirsts for blood. Pride comes before a massacre. The hidden mass graves are testament to the disgrace.

Eve of Destruction Lyrics

The eastern world it is explodin’
Violence flarin’, bullets loadin’

You’re old enough to kill but not for votin’
You don’t believe in war, what’s that gun you’re totin’
And even the Jordan river has bodies floatin’
But you tell me over and over and over again my friend
Ah, you don’t believe we’re on the eve of destructionDon’t you understand, what I’m trying to say?
Can’t you see the fears that I’m feeling today?
If the button is pushed, there’s no running away
There’ll be no one to save with the world in a grave

Take a look around you, boy, it’s bound to scare you, boy
And you tell me over and over and over again my friend
Ah, you don’t believe we’re on the eve of destruction

Yeah, my blood’s so mad, feels like coagulatin’
I’m sittin’ here, just contemplatin’
I can’t twist the truth, it knows no regulation
Handful of Senators don’t pass legislation,
And marches alone can’t bring integration
When human respect is disintegratin’
This whole crazy world is just too frustratin’
And you tell me over and over and over again my friend
Ah, you don’t believe we’re on the eve of destruction

Think of all the hate there is in Red China
Then take a look around to Selma, Alabama
Ah, you may leave here for four days in space
But when you return it’s the same old place
The poundin’ of the drums, the pride and disgrace
You can bury your dead but don’t leave a trace
Hate your next door neighbor but don’t forget to say grace
And you tell me over and over and over and over again my friend
Ah, you don’t believe we’re on the eve of destruction

2 thoughts on “The Eve of Destruction – Barry McGuire 1965

  1. This is his nib’s favorite song of all time! McGuire was actually quite versatile. He went on to record a Christian song for VBS called “Bullfrogs and Butterflies.” We used the musical at church. It was fun!

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