War Pigs (Song intro plays throughout podcast)

Narrator: Hello and welcome to Protest Pals! On today’s episode, we’ll be taking a deep dive into the song “War Pigs” by Black Sabbath. 

(Song intro)

Narrator: Since metal was initially introduced to the music scene in the late 1960’s, the genre has been almost notorious for its bold, unapologetic essence with lyrics stretching anywhere from satanic ideas to how war shapes our world. Like any new thing we are introduced to, metal at its conception was highly scrutinized, and generally broadly misunderstood by the public. This is no different from the story of the band Black Sabbath. 

Narrator: The song, “War Pigs”, include essentially the bread and butter of what makes metal music so heavily contested. From the jump, the listener is bombarded with an intense, airy, and most importantly ominous guitar riff which transports the listener into a world of corruption and chaos. 

Narrator: When analyzing “War Pigs”, it is crucial that we consider the lyrics in order to give the feel of the song some real meaning. 

Narrator: Now, lets explore the lyrics. Starting off, the line “generals gathered in their masses, just like witches at black masses” introduces listeners to what some may refer to as the dark side of what metal music is all about.

Evil minds that plot destruction, sorcerers of death’s construction

In the fields the bodies burning, as the war machine keeps turning

Death and hatred to mankind, poisoning their brainwashed minds

Narrator: The bridge of the song is quintessential when we consider how its lyrics shape the imagery and overall feel of “War Pigs”.

Politicians hide themselves away, they only started the war. Why should they go out to fight? They leave that all to the poor

Narrator: In discussing the lyrics and analyzing their meaning, it is impossible to ignore the overarching and at times overwhelmingly applicable themes of war, corruption, and religious imagery. 

Narrator: This begs the question: what has made “War Pigs” such an influential and representative anthem for Vietnam war protest specifically? Here, we must consider the time period in which the song was created. While metal music was initially popularized in the 60’s with bands like The Yardbirds, Cream, and even Jimi Hendrix, it didn’t see a true boom in popularity the way we know today until around 1968, which is when Black Sabbath released “War Pigs. So, how exactly is “War Pigs” a protest anthem for the Vietnam War specifically? The answer is simple, it applies to the sentiments we have been seeing all along: corruption, war, greed, etc. Not all wars are the same, but the common thread seems to be images and messaging of the same type of thing: war is bad and the government is corrupt. Of course, a song itself is not going to end world wars, but it is definitely a great start.