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Weekend Playlist: War

We’re back after an unexpected break! In all of speculative fiction, there’s very little that captures the public’s imagination quite like stories of warfare. There are stories abound, capturing epic stories of good verses evil, heroic characters that fall and eveil that is to be fought, on planets, in deep space, between the forces of good or sometimes just questionable. On this November 11th, it’s a good time to reflect on just what soldiers of every military have done, and to honor their memory. Within science fiction, there are plenty of examples of war, and that’s also translated into a number of songs, either inspired by real wars, characters involved in combat, or just reflecting on what motivates people.

This week, we’re going to go through a timeline of wars throughout the ages.

All Along the Watchtower, Bear McCreary

Battlestar Galactica is quite possibly one of the best examples of a modern day environment, politics and motivations addressed in a war. Bear McCreary’s soundtracks take an unconventional, but highly effective edge in the series, and his adaptation of Bob Dylan’s classic song (which has war elements in and of itself), is bar none.

The Battle Of Evermore, Led Zeppelin

Parts of this song are inspired by Lord of the Rings, one of several Led Zeppelin songs to do so. The song takes much of its imagery with fantastic battles, and it’s got some very thoughtful lyrics that have had me thinking lately.

Horse Soldier, Horse Soldier, Corb Lund and the Hurtin’ Albertans

I love country music’s ability to really tell a story, and I have to say, this is a fun one. It’s not really geeky, other than anyone with a keen interest in military history will get a kick out of it, but it’s a nice look at the contributions of cavalry action over the history of warfare.

When The War Came, The Decemberists

This is one of two Decemberists songs that I really like dealing with the subject. Their lyrics are always fantastic, but this song really brings in the atmosphere along with them: dark and foreboding.

The Longest Day, Iron Maiden

This song is inspired by the book by Cornelius Ryan, who’s written one of the best books on the invasion of Normandy in 1944. The lyrics have really captured what veterans have destribed from the D-Day invasion during the 2nd World War, and it’s a song that works well on several levels.

Star Spangled Man, The Star Spangled Singers

Propaganda was a major part of any war, and the Second World War’s propaganda efforts are particularly vivid. This song, from the recent Captain America movie, fits right in with anything that would have been created during the war.

Captain America, moe.

Not particularly war-related, but this song about Captain America is a good placeholder for the character, who’s quite possibly one of the more war-oriented superheroes in the public’s eye. He certainly has a long history, beginning with a punch to Hitler’s jaw and service in WWII, it’s a positive embodiment of everything that America stood for in the conflict.

The Temptation Of Adam, Josh Ritter

The Cold War doesn’t get a lot of attention when one thinks of warfare, but it’s an important period where a lot happened, guiding several wars and events between the United States and Soviet Union. This ballad, by Josh Ritter, is a soft, speculative look at someone ready to push the button, trapped down in a missile silo.

Shoot To Thrill, AC/DC

Captain America is one comic book superhero that dealt with war, and Iron Man is almost his counterpart. This song is included simply because I think of Iron Man every time I listen to it. It really fits, though. The recent film did a good job looking at some of the forces that drive the US war machine.

Calamity Song, The Decemberists

The other song that I’ll point out from the Decemberists, this one directly references war games seen in David Foster Wallace’s book Infinite Jest. This song is fantastic in its energy, but more so for the great music video.

When The World Ends [Oakenfold Remix], Dave Matthews Band

Taken off of the Matrix Reloaded Soundtrack, this remixed version of Dave Matthew’s song is a dark, brooding one that really does a good job summing up the atmosphere around the war against the machines in the movie.

Blow Me Away, Breaking Benjamin

We referenced this song a while ago, but it’s hard to miss a song inspired by the Halo games. Of all the interstellar wars to cover, this is a good one that really captures the energy of the games, in the speed and lyrics. Plus, there’s an anniversary version of the game coming next week.

Starfighter Pilot, Snow Patrol

This song is a tongue in cheek look at famous science fiction actors, such as William Shatner, and the people that they inspire. It’s a fun, thoughtful song.

Starship Trooper [a. Life Seeker b. Disillusion c. Würm], Yes

How can we not end this week with a song titled Starship Trooper? The title alone gives this one an automatic inclusion onto the list.

About Andrew Liptak (180 Articles)
Andrew Liptak is a freelance writer and historian from Vermont. He is a 2014 graduate of the Launch Pad Astronomy Workshop, and has written for such places as Armchair General, io9, Kirkus Reviews, Lightspeed Magazine, and others. His first book, War Stories: New Military Science Fiction is now out from Apex Publications, and his next, The Future Machine: The Writers, Editors and Readers who Build Science Fiction is forthcoming from Jurassic London in 2015. He can be found over at and at @AndrewLiptak on Twitter.

1 Comment on Weekend Playlist: War

  1. Thanks, Andrew.


    The Calamity song is definitely my favorite track on the new Decemberists album.

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