Protests, mainly for civil rights and against the Vietnam War, were common in America in the 1960s, and songs about war and peace were a big part of the era’s music scene. Bob Dylan, the singer-songwriter turned Nobel Prize-winning poet, launched his career with the still popular “Blowin’ in the Wind” in 1962.
Based on the Billboard Hot 100, however, none of Dylan’s songs were big sellers. The most popular song about war and peace based on this yardstick is “Holiday” released by Green Day – not in the ‘60s, but in 2005. It was in the Hot 100 for 32 weeks, peaking at No. 19. (Here’s a list of all the most popular songs about war and peace on the Billboard Hot 100.)
Green Day has sold more than 85 records worldwide, making it one of the most popular rock bands in history. Started in 1987, Green Day has been made up of the same musicians since 1990 – founders Billie Joe Armstrong, the guitarist and lead vocalist, and Mike Dirnt, the bass player, plus drummer Tré Cool. Its music was in the vanguard of the punk rock movement. Its first major success came with the release of “Dookie” in 1994, which sold 10 million albums in the U.S.
The constant refrain in “Holiday” – which Armstrong says was actually inspired by Dylan – is “Oh I beg to dream and differ from the hollow lies.” The music video opens with huge planes dropping bombs.
At a concert last summer, Armstrong announced that he was going to renounce his U.S. citizenship to protest the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade. Whether he has actually done so is unclear. (Here, though, are some famous Americans who are no longer U.S. citizens.)
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