In 1970, if you heard an anti-war song, I’d imagine it was an entirely reasonable assumption that it was a Vietnam protest song. There were enough of them to go around, and many of your most revered anthems by prolific songwriters of the era drew inspiration from speaking out against what they felt was an unjustifiable war.
Despite that, members of Black Sabbath have stated “War Pigs” actually wasn’t a Vietnam protest song. Bill Ward claims the band was anti-Vietnam, but Ozzy Osbourne has been quoted as saying they really didn’t know anything about Vietnam at all. Rather, “War Pigs” was a song about the horrors of war in general. Anti-Vietnam, sure, but generally, not specifically. Instead, the War Pigs were fictitious, archetypal evil minds that plot destruction – not just in 1970, but throughout humanity’s history. Given that Black Sabbath generally writes about fantasy, mythology, and sci-fi, rarely venturing into politics, I’m inclined to believe it – “War Pigs” was a fiction, maybe inspired by current events surrounding Vietnam, but not about it specifically.
When I covered “War Pigs”, I wanted to release it as an EP with something original along the same lines. I wrote about a near-future dystopia. One where a country is embroiled in endless wars for profit, and raises up generation after generation of youth to fight in them. They maintain the illusion of choice, of voluntary service; but through propaganda, social engineering, and economic manipulation, they plan children’s whole developmental process around making good soldiers, and give all but the most privileged of young people few other realistic choices. An America where our schools focus more on teaching obedience and tribalist loyalty than academics. An America where a living wage, education, and healthcare are inaccessible unless you enlist. An America where we sell our kids on the idea that going to war is the most noble choice a person can make, but minimize the risks and long-term effects, and then neglect them and deny them care when they come home physically wounded or emotionally traumatized.
Today marks the 18th anniversary of the beginning of the War on Terror. Starting tomorrow, Americans that weren’t even born when it started will be old enough to die in it. Sometimes I wonder if my fictionalized America wasn’t fictional enough.