Peace Sells

Album: Peace Sells... But Who's Buying? (1986)


  • One of Megadeth's most popular songs, this deals with disillusion, Cold War politics, and military combat - all recurring themes in Megadeth songs. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Thomas - Syracuse, NY
  • Frontman Dave Mustaine recalled the writing of this song to Rolling Stone: "I was homeless at the time, and I was living in a rehearsal place in Vernon, California. I was seeing a girl, Diana - there were a lot of songs I wrote about her. I actually wrote the lyrics to that song on the wall, in that building. I didn't have any paper in the studio, but I had a Sharpie, so I just wrote on the wall. Whoever inherited our rehearsal room after I moved out, saw the original lyrics to 'Peace Sells' on the wall. They probably painted right over it and didn't even know it."
  • Mustaine also penned the opening bassline, which became famous for being used as the theme for MTV News. He told Rolling Stone that he never received any royalties for their usage of it. Said Mustaine: "They didn't give me a penny. They cut it off right before they'd have to pay me, which was very clever. I don't think anybody with a conscience at MTV did that - it was probably somebody in their legal department."
  • According to former Megadeth guitarist Chris Poland, Dave Mustaine originally conceived this as an 8-minute piece before drummer and close friend Gar Samuelson talked him out of it. Poland told Xtreme Metal Radio: "I think originally it was eight minutes long, and Gar said, 'You know what? This is too good a song to drag it out like this. Let's shorten the arrangement, cut it down to size and make it a single.'

    Dave said, 'Yeah, let's do that.' I honestly think Dave respected Gar's opinion on stuff – he was the only guy in the band Dave wouldn't mess with. He totally respected Gar, and thank God he did, If Gar hadn't talked Dave into shortening the song."
  • Speaking with former RIP magazine editor Lonn Friend at the January 2015 NAMM show in Anaheim, California, David Ellefson detailed the influence former Van Halen bassist and backing vocalist had on this song. "When we were writing 'Peace Sells', we were in the band room, writing 'Peace Sells', and at the end, [sings] 'Peace sells, but who's…', I immediately go, [sings higher] 'Peace sells, but who's buying.' I immediately go for that… I call it the 'Michael Anthony harmony,'" he said.

    Ellefson added: "Anytime I'm on a bandstand and there's a vocal, I'm, like, 'I'll take the Michael Anthony part.' So he's, like, defined in my book as a… basically, he's an instrumentation."
  • Since the bass line in so popular, many novice musicians try to play it when they start learning the instrument. That's not a good idea, according to Dave Ellefson. "It's a really tricky bass line," he said in his Songfacts interview. "When people tell me that they just learned how to play the bass and this is the first line they're trying to learn, I'm like, 'You might want to learn something a little bit easier.' That's a very tricky song to play."

Comments: 21

  • Bnn from Atlanta, Ga.I always felt Dave summarized the song best on a VH1 special when he said "peace is something we all want, but nobody wants to give up stuff." The protagonist of the song is somebody who tires of "giving up stuff" (his time to going to work or court, his money to bills, etc.) to a system that isn't any closer to peace than any other time in history. The first verse details what he "gives up" regularly for some sense of normalcy, the second verse details his dissatisfaction with the results (being chastised for being an "unkind" person by social "superiors" who pretend "anyone can be president" and he doesn't believe it for a minute). Ultimately he concludes that if you put a price on "peace," it wouldn't matter because the people with the most to give won't give up their power and the middle class are too cynical from constant societal failure to give anymore either. I always thought it was a bleak song in its day but as I've gotten further into adulthood, it seems even bleaker (and truer) than I imagined it to be.
  • Freedom from Chicopee, Mathis is about the NWO and global dominance.
    also about not fitting in with the structures of society. we the people have to dismantle nwo plans to enslave us all and kill the freedom fighters. this is the news!
    this includes:
    patritot act
    fda, who, cia, monsanto, ama, nato, nafta, fema, congress, etc, etc...
    restore the costitution and live the declaration of independance.
  • Rickey from Lansing, Mii love the lyric "what do you mean im not kind, im just not your kind"
  • Rahul from Chennai, Indiaawesome song..... gr8 guitar work n vocals too..... i think i underestimated megadeth....
  • Riki from Tampere, FinlandAgreed with hektor.
    Megadeth live recordings just always seem even more kickass than the album ones, especially SOD!
  • Hektor from Mty, Mexicoi like when in the anthology disc live version dave says "can you put price on peace?" and then the peace sells part and then a kick ass double bass pedal
  • Luke from Dayton, Ohi love when he says "tell me somthing, its still 'we the people' right?"
  • John from Marlborough, MaI like the lyric "What do you mean, I dont support your system? I go to court when I have too"
  • Wil from Oak Park, Cathis song is amazing, along with this band. the bassline in the intro could go on for days and i'd never get sick of it. the lyrics in my opinion can be read more literally as they are written, but i feel this song has to do with mustaine getting kicked out of metallica. and his side of the argument with the band
  • Matt from Blacksburg, VaThis song is going to be in Rock Band 2, though. It's going to be a master track, too, meaning it's going to actually be performed by Megadeth with Dave Mustaine's vocals. It'll be hard to match his high nasal vocals, and the part when they play double bass pedals in the chorus will be hard, too. It could very well be a last-tier or second-to-last-tier song.
  • Avery from Bucksport, MeWEll i luv Megadeth, Dave Mustaine is probably one of the most interesting singers especially in sweating bullets!!
  • Jack from Claremont, MnSymphony of Destruction was on GH1, and the cover vocalist did a pretty good job of that. Not many people have GH1 though. This is probably my second favorite Megadeth song. Sweating Bullets is a good one if you're into the sort of weirder side of Megadeth.
  • Claire from Las Vegas, NvThis isn't my favorite Megadeth song, but I still appreciate it. Megadeth always sounds great. It's reassuring that they're out there, so we don't have to listen to so-called "artists" such as Gwen Stefani.
  • Pete from Detroit, MiDave Mustaine got the idea for this song by looking in a reader's digest. The article said "Peace Is For Sale but Who is Buying".
  • Annie from St Louis, MoThis is the most simple and to the point song that can pretty much sum up what anyones attitude should be toward freedom - and the founding idea of our country.
  • Jacob from Somewhere, United StatesAwesome song, the start is always great starts of low and cool like, then BAM! Metal goes!!!!
    In Guitar Hero they'll never get the voices right because anybody could take the song and sell it illegally. Sorry, but no other Megadeth songs are on GH3 but Metallica's One is. I really don't know which is better Peace Sells or Hangar 18, both are freakin' awesome!
  • Brendan from Easton, CtMan, this is such a nasty song. Took a few times for me to appreciate it, but man, his vocals are great. Not to mention he plays one hell of a guitar.
  • Sasuke Uchiha from Hidden Leaves Village, JapanBest line in any song: "what, you mean I hurt your feelings? I didn't know you had any feelings."
  • Jello from Sarnia, CanadaYeah, that would be cool...hopefully they would get a singer that sounded more like dave for GH3...when Hangar 18 was on GH2, the vocals sounded nothing like Dave, oh well...I hear Metallicas "One" is going on GH3 though, that will be cool!
  • Evan from Otway, OhIt's about time they added this song. I love songs that start off slow (or at least a decent speed), then kick out the metal. Megadeth's BEST. BTW Jello, I knew it was on GTA: Vice City, but not True Crime...guess I never payed attention. Speaking of games, they really need this on Guitar Hero 3 or Rock Band...=)
  • Jello from Sarnia, CanadaThis talks about how people talk about how they are for peace and stuff...but if it was preseted for 'sale' one would buy it. Released November 1986 on Combat Records, it reached 76 on the top 200 billboard charts, and VH1 rated it #11 on the 40 greatest metal songs of all time...the songs also deals with negative metalhead stereotypes which are untrue...the song was featured on Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (on the VRock Station), and True Crime Streets Of LA...this and Wake Up Dead were the most popular songs on the album...infact, the opening bassline was used as the opening theme for MTV News...Dave Wrote the song and it was produced by him and Randy Burns......I never get tired of this song or the video, I love it to deth! Btw, first coment, WOO!
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