Eve of Destruction (song)

"Eve of Destruction" is a protest song written by P. F. Sloan in mid-1965.[4] Several artists have recorded it, but the most popular recording was by Barry McGuire.

"Eve of Destruction"
West German picture sleeve
Single by Barry McGuire
from the album Eve of Destruction
B-side"What Exactly's the Matter With Me"
ReleasedJuly 16, 1965[1]
RecordedJuly 15, 1965
Genre
Length3:35
Label
Songwriter(s)P. F. Sloan
Producer(s)Lou Adler, P. F. Sloan, Steve Barri
Barry McGuire singles chronology
"Upon a Painted Ocean"
(1965)
"Eve of Destruction"
(1965)
"This Precious Time"
(1965)

The song references social issues of its period, including the Vietnam War, the draft, the threat of nuclear war, the Civil Rights Movement, turmoil in the Middle East, and the American space program.

The American media helped popularize the song by using it as an example of everything that was wrong with the youth culture of the time.[5] Due to its controversial lyrics, some American radio stations banned the song, "claiming it was an aid to the enemy in Vietnam".[6][7]

Background edit

The song was offered to the Byrds as a potential single in the vein of their prior Bob Dylan covers, but they rejected it. The Turtles, another L.A. group, recorded a version instead. The Turtles version was issued as a track on their October 1965 debut album It Ain't Me Babe, shortly after McGuire's version was cut and released in July 1965. The Turtles version was later released as a single in 1970 and hit #100 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Lyrical references edit

  • "You're old enough to kill, but not for votin'" refers to the United States law requiring registration for the draft at age 18, while the minimum voting age in most states was 21 until the ratification of the Twenty-sixth Amendment in 1971.
  • "And even the Jordan River has bodies floatin'" refers to the War over Water.
  • "If the button is pushed, there's no runnin' away." refers to mutual assured destruction.
  • The song's mention of Selma, Alabama, refers to the Selma to Montgomery marches in March 1965. The Jan and Dean version substitutes "Watts, California" in the lyrics, in apparent reference to the Watts riots that occurred in Los Angeles later in 1965.
  • "You may leave here for four days in space, but when you return it's the same old place" refers to the June 1965 mission of Gemini 4, which lasted just over four days.
  • "The pounding of the drums, the pride and disgrace" refers to the assassination of John F. Kennedy and the marching band that played as his casket was carried to Arlington National Cemetery.
  • "Hate your next door neighbor, but don't forget to say grace" refers to simple hypocrisy, according to Sloan.

Barry McGuire version edit

McGuire's recording was made between July 12 and July 15, 1965, and released by Dunhill Records. The accompanying musicians were P. F. Sloan on guitar and "Wrecking Crew" session musicians Hal Blaine on drums and Larry Knechtel on bass guitar. McGuire's vocal track was not intended to be the final version, but a copy of the rough mix "leaked" out to a disc jockey, who began playing it.[8] The song was an instant hit, and as a result, the more polished vocal track that was at first envisioned was never recorded.

McGuire recalled in later years that "Eve of Destruction" had been recorded in one take on a Tuesday morning, with him reading lyrics scrawled on a crumpled piece of paper. The following Monday morning he got a phone call from the record company at 7:00 a.m., telling him to turn on the radio; his song was playing.[9] McGuire's single hit #1 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and #3 on the UK Singles Chart in September 1965.

Reception edit

In the first week of its release, the single was at No. 103 on the Billboard charts. By August 12 Dunhill released the LP, Eve of Destruction. It reached its peak of #37 on the Billboard album chart during the week ending September 25. That same day the single went to #1 on the chart, and repeated the feat on the Cashbox chart, where it had debuted at No. 30.[10] McGuire would never again break into the top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100. It went to #1 in Norway for two weeks.[11]

Chart history edit

Controversy, parodies, and response songs edit

In addition to its being banned in some parts of the U.S., it was also banned by Radio Scotland.[25][7] It was placed on a "restricted list" by the BBC, and could not be played on "general entertainment programmes".[26] It was however featured on Top of the Pops on television one week while in the Top 10.

A group called The Spokesmen released a partial parody and answer record entitled "The Dawn of Correction", which became a Top 40 hit. Singer Tony Mammarella also released a positive answer song titled "Eve of Tomorrow".[27] A few months later, Green Beret medic SSgt. Barry Sadler released the patriotic "Ballad of the Green Berets". Johnny Sea's 1966 spoken word recording, "Day For Decision", was also a response to the song, and was also a Top 40 hit. In addition, the British musician Alan Klein included a parody of the song attacking protest singers entitled "Age of Corruption" on his album Well at Least It's British.[28]

In popular culture edit

The Temptations' 1970 song "Ball of Confusion (That's What the World Is Today)" mentions the song title.

The song is prominently featured in the second season episode of The Greatest American Hero, entitled "Operation Spoilsport". The song is played during the fourth-season finale of The A-Team, "The Sound of Thunder".

The song, like many other popular songs of the day, gave its name to a gun truck used by United States Army Transportation Corps forces during the Vietnam War. The truck is on display at the U.S. Army Transportation Museum and is believed to be the only surviving example of a Vietnam-era gun truck.[29]

The song is featured in the soundtrack of Mafia III.[30]

The song is played in its entirety in the Italian film Rose Island from 2020.[citation needed]

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ Billboard magazine, August 14, 1965, page 1
  2. ^ MacDonald, Ian (2007). Revolution in the Head: The Beatles' Records and the Sixties (Third ed.). Chicago: Chicago Review Press. p. 154. ISBN 978-1-55652-733-3.
  3. ^ Breihan, Tom (August 14, 2018). "The Number Ones: Barry McGuire's "Eve Of Destruction"". Stereogum. Retrieved June 12, 2023. As a pop song, it's raw and snarly, but it never takes flight the way the best pop music of the era did.
  4. ^ P.F. Sloan. "P.F. Sloan: In His Own Words — The Stories Behind the Songs". Retrieved November 18, 2015.
  5. ^ P. F. Sloan (February 19, 1999). "P. F. Sloan - Stories Behind The Songs". The P. F. Sloan Website. Retrieved April 26, 2008.
  6. ^ Gilliland, John (1969). "Show 33 - Revolt of the Fat Angel: American musicians respond to the British invaders. [Part 1]" (audio). Pop Chronicles. University of North Texas Libraries.
  7. ^ a b Blecha, Peter; Taboo Tunes/A History of Banned Bands & Censored Songs; Backbeat Books, 2004. ISBN 0-87930-792-7
  8. ^ McGuire, Barry (October 9, 2005). "Eve of Destruction". Barry McGuire.com. Archived from the original on June 24, 2006.
  9. ^ McGuire stated this on Spicks and Specks, Australian ABC TV shown on March 12, 2008.
  10. ^ Barry McGuire. "Eve of Destruction". BarryMcGuire.com. Retrieved September 5, 2010.
  11. ^ a b "Barry McGuire - Eve of Destruction". norwegiancharts.com. Retrieved September 5, 2010.
  12. ^ "Cash Box - International Best Sellers" (PDF). Cashbox (magazine). 1981-01-01. Retrieved 23 February 2024.
  13. ^ Kent, David (2005). Australian Chart Book (1940–1969). Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-44439-5.
  14. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. 17 July 2013. Retrieved January 4, 2018.
  15. ^ "SINGLET JOULUKUU 1965 DECEMBER". Suomen virallinen lista. Retrieved 2024-02-23.
  16. ^ "InfoDisc : Accès direct à ces Artistes > Choisir Un Artiste Dans la Liste" (PHP) (in French). infodisc.fr. Retrieved 23 February 2024.
  17. ^ "irishcharts.ie search results". Retrieved 2024-02-23.
  18. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – Barry Mc Guire – Eve of Destruction" (in German). GfK Entertainment charts. Retrieved 23 February 2024. To see peak chart position, click "TITEL VON Barry Mc Guire"
  19. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Eve of Destruction". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved January 14, 2018.
  20. ^ Hallberg, Eric (1993). Eric Hallberg presenterar Kvällstoppen i P 3: Sveriges radios topplista över veckans 20 mest sålda skivor 10. 7. 1962 - 19. 8. 1975 - November 1965. Drift Musik. p. 130. ISBN 9163021404.
  21. ^ Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955-1990 - ISBN 0-89820-089-X
  22. ^ "Cash Box Top 100 Singles, September 25, 1965". Archived from the original on May 10, 2015. Retrieved February 16, 2018.
  23. ^ Musicoutfitters.com
  24. ^ "Cash Box Year-End Charts: Top 100 Pop Singles, December 25, 1965". Archived from the original on May 10, 2017. Retrieved February 16, 2018.
  25. ^ Chapman, Robert;Selling the Sixties: The Pirates and Pop Music Radio; Routledge, 1992. ISBN 0-415-07970-5
  26. ^ Unfit for Auntie's airwaves: The artists censored by the BBC. The Independent.
  27. ^ Record World, September 4, 1965, page 22
  28. ^ Erlewine, Stephen. "Alan Klein - Well at Least It's British". Allmusic. Retrieved December 14, 2018.
  29. ^ "Gun Truck page". U. S. Army Transportation Museum site. Archived from the original on February 28, 2008. Retrieved March 5, 2008.
  30. ^ "Mafia 3's Excellent Soundtrack Revealed, Contains These 100-Plus Songs". GameSpot. Retrieved February 18, 2020.

External links edit