Main Rhetoric Paper

Submitted By jordancanio
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Pages: 10

War and Music: A Look at the Evolution of Rhetoric in Anti-War Music War is not a new concept to the human race. It is a concept that is usually expressed with aggression. However, human expression takes many forms; one of the most recognizable forms of expression is music. From the primitive drum beats that make humans stomp their feet to the melodies that become engrained in our heads, music is a form of expression that appears to be “hard-wired into nervous systems” (Jourdain 5). Because war and music are forms of expression, a combination of the two seems inevitable. If we are not fighting for their lives, we are fighting to figure out our stance or encourage others to take ours. While this study could have been based on a wide range of wars (protest songs date back further than the American Revolution), narrowing the study becomes necessary for a much more comprehensible meaning. By choosing one song from three different decades (the 1960's, the 1980's, and the 2000's), not only can one see the evolution of the war/protest song, but also how the musicians' rhetorical process towards the concept of war has evolved. The model that will be used for this research will be Forbes analysis on Richard Nixon's The Silent Majority. In this model, Forbes traces the audiences that the former president tries to reach in a time when the country had significant turmoil. He divides the speech, almost line for line, and puts each line in context to which audience Nixon is trying to persuade that he knows what he is talking about and inspire compassion. Because songs generally tend to be shorter than speeches, this line-by-line approach to audience analysis seems appropriate and will be utilized. As for the sample songs to be studied, three iconic protest songs have been chosen. Folk artist Bob Dylan's "Blowin' in the Wind" is a classic protest song of the 1960's and has often been considered an anthem for the Vietnam/Hippie Generation. U2's "Sunday Bloody Sunday" details the Troubles, a period of war in Ireland, in the 1980s from the point of view of one of its citizens. Finally, the new millennium produced the Black Angels, a politically charged band that juxtaposed the Vietnam War and the Iraqi War. These songs comprise a clear path of evolution in the rhetoric of war songs and should be observed in that manner. To begin, Bob Dylan's "Blowin' in the Wind" appears to be a nearly perfect interpretation of the Vietnam War from a philosophical point of view. In 1963, a movement was building in the spirit of American citizens as the number of troops deployed to South Vietnam rose to 16,732 (Weeks and Meconis 24). As a result, many musicians started to question the Vietnam War (Anderson 51). Dylan is a part of this counter-culture movement and as a result, his music becomes a product of it. His philosophical stance in the song is mostly aided by the fact that the songs lyrics, aside from two lines that are repeated in the chorus, are compromised of rhetorical questions. His questions seems to be from the stance of a simple man, and with the simple combination of a man and an acoustic guitar, this simplification resonates (Anderson 51). In the song, there are three lines that are obvious anti-war lines: "Yes, how many times must the cannon balls fly Before they are forever banned?" - Lines 5-6 "Yes, how many years can a mountain exist before it's washed to the sea" - Lines 9-10 "Yes, how many deaths will it take till he knows That too many people have died?" - Lines 21-22
Lines 5-6 and 21-22 refer directly to the causalities of war. Dylan aims his attention with these lines to two primary audiences: the government and the governed. He does not distinguish which government and its people, so it becomes a universal call. He is urging the government to see that war in general is not the best option. He implies that because governments allows war to continue, all it really is doing is sending its citizens to die and that this