The solemnity of Nov. 11 should never be forgotten. Our thoughts turn to the fallen and to the families they left behind. Here’s a playlist of songs that commemorate this day beyond the traditional playing of The Last Post:
Sky Pilot by Eric Burdon and the Animals:
With the Vietnam War at its peak in 1968, the Animals released this seven-and-a-half minute, three-movement song about a chaplain who blesses the troops before they leave on a mission. Although it doesn’t feature any obvious anti-war lyrics, the imagery and the era in which it was released have caused it to be categorized as a protest song.
And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda by the Pogues:
Written by an Australian singer-songwriter named Eric Bogle in 1971, the song tells the story of the Battle of Gallipoli during WWI through the eyes of a young Aussie soldier. There are many covers of this song but none are as moving as the Pogues version found on the Rum, Sodomy & the Lash album from 1985.
Brothers in Arms by Dire Straits:
The title track of their 1985 album closes the record and was the follow-up single to Money for Nothing. It doesn’t mention any war by name, but many believe it has to do with the Falklands War, which was fought between the U.K. and Argentina a few years earlier.
Remembrance Day by Bryan Adams:
In early 1986, Adams and songwriting partner Jim Vallance wrote this song during the sessions for the Into the Fire album. In 1988, the Canadian Ministry of National Defense asked to use the song in a video production that’s still played in schools across the country.
Hero of War by Rise Against:
This is the one acoustic song from the Appeal to Reason album from 2008. Singer Tim McIlrath wrote the song while trying to imagine an Iraqi war vet looking back on his experiences in the Gulf. Given that there aren’t many songs written from this perspective — at least not yet — it’s worth a listen.
Alan is the host of the radio show The Secret History of Rock. Reach him at email@example.com