Let Us Begin (What Are We Making Weapons For?)

Album: One World (1986)
Play Video


  • In addition to his writing and recording career, John Denver was a political activist, and in 1985 when he toured the Soviet Union he was moved greatly by a visit to the Piskaryovka Memorial Cemetery where literally hundreds of thousands of victims of the Siege of Leningrad are buried. He also met Alexander Gradsky, the leading singer-songwriter in Russia, and the following year at the Melodiya Studios in Moscow they recorded this anti-war number, from both US and Soviet perspectives.
  • Denver commissioned a short film for the song, which was put together from archive footage by his friend Obie Benz. This is believed to have been the first time an American and Soviet artist had performed together in a music video. As well as sharing the vocals with Gradsky, the recording included the Red Army Chorus "to go behind the spirit and the meaning" of the song.
  • Denver himself said this was simply the best piece of work that he had ever produced in his career. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Alexander Baron - London, England, for all above
  • This song precipitated a split between Denver and his record company RCA, which had recently been acquired by General Electric, who had military contracts and really couldn't have an artist singing about the issues in that song. Denver and RCA weren't on the best terms anyway, and there's a good chance they would have parted regardless of this song. Denver began recording on his own Windsong label, which is where he released material by the Starland Vocal Band, famous for the single "Afternoon Delight."

Comments: 4

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn July 30, 1986, Variety magazine reported that RCA had dropped John Denver from its roster after the release of his single, "Let Us Begin (What Are We Making Weapons For?)"...
    The Variety article stated that the song upset the record company's new owner, General Electric, one of the largest defense contractors in the US...
    "Let Us Begin (What Are We Making Weapons For?)" was track five on side one from his nineteenth studio album, 'One World'...
    John Denver, born Henry John Deutschendorf Jr., passed away at the young age of 53 on October 12th, 1997 (plane crash}...
    May he R.I.P.
  • James from Minna, NigeriaA man of love peace and friendship....what are we really making weapons for?
  • Simone from Bellaire, MiHe was such a pure man. Able to feel so much and write it into beautiful words. I wish I had know him, but he lives on through his songs.
  • Bill from Queens, NySo much killing and hatred on tiny planet in an infinite universe. Why?
see more comments

Editor's Picks

David Bowie Leads the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Long-Haired Men

David Bowie Leads the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Long-Haired MenSong Writing

Bowie's "activist" days of 1964 led to Ziggy Stardust.

Creedence Clearwater Revival

Creedence Clearwater RevivalFact or Fiction

Is "Have You Ever Seen the Rain" about Vietnam? Was John Fogerty really born on a Bayou? It's the CCR edition of Fact or Fiction.

Grammar In Lyrics

Grammar In LyricsMusic Quiz

Lyrics don't always follow the rules of grammar. Can you spot the ones that don't?

Matthew Wilder - "Break My Stride"

Matthew Wilder - "Break My Stride"They're Playing My Song

Wilder's hit "Break My Stride" had an unlikely inspiration: a famous record mogul who rejected it.

The End Of The Rock Era

The End Of The Rock EraSong Writing

There are no more rock stars - the last one died in 1994.

Glen Phillips of Toad the Wet Sprocket

Glen Phillips of Toad the Wet SprocketSongwriter Interviews

The "All I Want" singer went through a long depression, playing some shows when he didn't want to be alive.