Album: War And Peace (1970)
Charted: 3 1
  • Motown hitmakers Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong wrote this song. Starr began his career recording for Ric-Tic Records, a Detroit label that was a rival to Motown. In 1968, Motown bought Ric-Tic, which gave Starr access to their writers and producers.
  • This is a protest song about the Vietnam War, although it makes a broader statement of the need for harmony in our everyday lives.

    "War" was one of the first Motown songs to make a political statement. The label had always been focused on making hit songs, but around this time Motown artists like The Temptations and Marvin Gaye started releasing songs with social commentary, many of which were written by Whitfield.
  • The Temptations were the first to record this; it was included on their 1970 album Psychedelic Shack. Motown had no intention of releasing it as a single, but many in the protest movement, especially college students, made it clear that the song would be a big hit if it was. Motown head Berry Gordy had other plans for The Temptations and didn't want them associated with such a controversial song, so he had Starr record it and his version was released as a single. Starr didn't have as big a fan base to offend.
  • This song has a very distinct tambourine part, played by percussionist Jack Ashford. He was one of the Motown Funk Brothers who played on the track; bass player Bob Babbitt and guitarist Dennis Coffey were also part of it.

    Coffey came up with the psychedelic guitar sound Norman Whitfield used on "Cloud Nine" by The Temptations, which marked a musical shift for the label. In a Songfacts interview with Coffey, he said: "Norman wanted to change the sound of Motown, and I was the guy that helped him do it. He wanted to get into that protest and social consciousness stuff, so I did that fuzz tone thing up high on 'War.'"
  • Starr added the interjections "good God y'all" and "absolutely nothings," which became some of the most famous ad-libs in music history.
  • Starr won the Grammy Award for Best R&B Male Vocal for this song.
  • This is a very sincere song about the horrors of war, but it has been used for comic effect in a number of movies and TV series. It appeared in Family Guy ("Bigfat" - 2013), The Simpsons ("Treehouse of Horror VIII" - 1997) and two episodes of Seinfeld ("The Marine Biologist" - 1994, "Highlights of a Hundred" - 1995). Movie uses include the 1988 blaxploitation spoof I'm Gonna Git You Sucka, and the 1998 film Rush Hour with martial arts star Jackie Chan and comedian Chris Tucker. Here are some others:


    Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows (2016)
    Grudge Match (2013)
    Blood: The Last Vampire (2009)
    Rush Hour 3 (2007)
    Guy X (2005)
    High Heels and Low Lifes (2001)
    Backdraft (1991)
    One More Saturday Night (1986)
    Pacific Inferno (1979)


    Xena: Warrior Princess ("Lyre, Lyre, Hearts on Fire" - 2000)
    Boy Meets World ("Cutting the Cord" - 1999)
    The Wonder Years ("The Journey" - 1990)
  • Bruce Springsteen's version was a hit in 1986. It was the first single released from his boxed set, Live 1975-1985, and reached US #8 and UK #18. Springsteen first performed it on September 27, 1985 during his Born In The U.S.A. tour. He taped the lyrics to his arm so he wouldn't screw them up.
  • The Jam released this in 1982 as the B-side of their single "Just Who Is The 5 O'Clock Hero." Other artists to cover it include Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Joan Osborne and Maria Muldaur.
  • Starr died of a heart attack in 2003. He was 61.

Comments: 24

  • Markantney from BiloxeMar 2015, one of the first songs I recall as a kid (late 40s now) and Starr's riffing throughout the song, "Good God Y'all", "Say it Again", "Listen to Me",...is almost James Brown like, except Starr's lyrics have more clarity.

    Like the song wasn't made in a studio but at a small venue concert or even a Protest Rally.

    That fricken "Good God Y'all" does it for me,...everytime.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn December 13th 1970, "Stop the War Now" by Edwin Starr entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #62; and five weeks later on January 17th, 1971 it peaked at #5 {for 1 week} and spent 8 weeks on the Top 100...
    It reached #3 on Billboard's R&B Singles chart...
    Was his next release following his #1 Top 100 hit, "War"...
    Between 1965 and 1979 he had eighteen records on the R&B Singles chart; seven made the Top 10 with "War" being his highest charting record, it reached #3...
    Mr. Starr, born Charles Edwin Hatcher, passed away on April 2nd, 2003 at the age of 61...
    May he R.I.P.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn December 21st 1986, "War" by Bruce Springsteen peaked at #8 (for 2 weeks) on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; it had entered the chart on November 16th at position #45 and spent 11 weeks on the Top 100...
    It reached #4 on Billboard's Mainstream Rock Tracks chart...
    Was the last of eight straight Top 10 records by the Boss...
    The original charted version was by Edwin Starr; and on August 23rd, 1970 it reached #1 (for 3 weeks) on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart.
  • Marty from Milwaukee, WiI agree with you completely, Andrew from Birmingham. War is the greatest Evil in our world. It causes nothing but suffering for all involved.
  • Drew from B'ham, AlIt *was* the greatest nation in the world. It's declined since then, has it not? I say in no way that I'm opposed to the American Revolution, because King George III taxed w/o representation, but I still think war at that time was stupid. I count it the fault of the team of King George, mind you. The colonists were well justified in defending themselves & their rights; I don't oppose defense. But I wish nations/militaries did not pick fights w/ one another.
  • Matt from Anderson, ScWhat's it good for? How about the birth of the greatest nation in the world?
  • Bruce from Long Branch, NjSpringsteen does a cover of this from his boxed set. Can't say I like the version. Too fuzzy and the electric guitars are too loud.
  • Matthew from Milford, MaSee also - "The Last Stop" by Dave Matthews. Both are high-energy anti-war songs... I love 'em! "The Last Stop", in particular, was once my all-time favorite song.
  • Kent from Lodi, CaWas the backing band on this Rose Royce of "Car Wash" fame?
  • Andrew from Birmingham, United StatesWhat's war good for? Good-for-nothing?? You tell 'em, Edwin!! I despise the very thought of tension between nations. God made us all; it horrifies me to think of people, living, breathing stuff God made, being destroyed. That's such a horrific thought!! "War can only take life away!!" I know of a very appropriate quote by Christopher Marlowe:
    "Accursed be he that first invented war." You tell 'em, Christopher!! Christopher and Edwin, you two are a sensible duo!! I'd get an autograph from both of you if I could!!
  • Matthew from Milford, MaDidn't Bruce Springsteen write the lyrics of this song down on his arm when he covered it? From what I heard, he was afraid that he'd forget the lyrics.
  • David from Wichita, KsThis was really an anthem to those of us in high school in that time frame--1969-1971. Funny how old the song is yet the lyrics fit the Iraq war to a perfectly. To Bush and Cheney--Good God ya all!
  • Darrell from EugeneYes, war is good for absolutely nothing. Although I was ineligible for the draft at the time that this song came out (both because I was 27 years old and because I had roughed up an Oregon State Trooper in 1962 and served 180 days in jail), I was, am and always will be against all wars.
    War is an enormous waste of human life, government money, oil, coal, natural gas, et al, and we need to follow the leads of Sweden and Switzerland if the USA is to survive as one nation and not break up into several independent nations.
  • Brad from San Jose, CaThis song was origionally by The Temptations, but they didn't do much with it. Edwin Starr took the song and redid it and went all out. The Temptations made it but Edwin took all the credit.
  • Steve from Fenton, MoThis is one of those few recordings that is so good, that anyone trying to remake it comes off looking silly, including Bruce Springsteen.
  • Erin from Reading, PaClaire, I think the song Sinead sang was also called War, but I believe it was a Bob Marley song.
  • Robert from Puyallup, WaBruce Springsteen's live version is, you should pardon the pun, killer! From the opening monologue: "If you grew up in the Sixties......" which is more topical than ever. "...blind faith in your leaders, or in anything, will get you killed!" The guitar work is also masterful.
  • Martin from Sydney, AustraliaFeatured in the soundtrack for the game 'Battlefield Vietnam'
  • Whitney from Clare, MiI believe that, from what I've been told, "War" was originally to be sung by Earth, Wind, and Fire but considered to controversial so given to Edwin Starr.
  • Emmanuel from Paris, France"War" was also recorded by Frankie Goes To Hollywood, on the album "Welcome To The Pleasure Dome", which also contains the hit "Relax".
  • Claire from Oak Ridge, TnIsn't this the same song Sinead O'Connor sang when she ripped up Pope John Paul's picture and ruined her career?
  • Kim from Portland, OrThis song was also featured in the 1991 Ron Howard movie Backdraft, starring Kurt Russell

  • Caitlin from Sailsbury, Ncthis was also on boy meets world cory and topanga do karoke and they sing this
  • Kruse from Wellington, New ZealandThis song featured in an episode of Seinfield called "The Marine Biologist" (the one when George pretends to a potential girlfriend that he is a marine biologist). Jerry tricks Elaine into thinking that the original title to Tolstoy's "War and Peace" was "War - what is it good for?". The episode aired on Feruary 10, 1994.
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