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Published on Jan 25, 2009
Written in the early 1960s by Canadian Buffy Sainte-Marie, Universal Soldier is commonly interpreted as being written in response to the war in Vietnam, it was actually penned before the first US combat troops arrived there. It gained popularity after being released by Scottish folk artist Donovan in 1965. It did well in Britain, where it was first released, reaching number five on the singles charts, though it fared less well in the United States.The version here appears with a photo montage, with credit to Youtube user tolka.
The Universal Soldier is an unusual war-protest song because it blames war not on governments, leaders or corporations, but on the individuals who accept the notion that killing solves problems and one war can end future wars. As implied by the title, Sainte-Marie makes no distinction between the soldiers of different nations, religions or ideologies: they fight for different causes but the same reasons. The song prompted a hostile response from Jan Berry of the pop duo Jan and Dean, who released The Universal Coward and turned his songwriting attention on war protesters. Some of the lyrics to Berry's song include:
He's a pacifist, an extremist, a Communist or just a Yank A demonstrator, an agitator, or just a knave A conscientious objector, a fanatic, a defector And he doesn't know he's digging his own grave
He's the universal coward and he runs from anything From a giant to a human to an elf He runs from Uncle Sam and he runs from Vietnam But most of all he's running from himself
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