Music and Peace

“But only art and music have the power to bring peace”- Yoko Ono.


In honor of peace week, this article considers ten of the biggest pro-peace songs in music history.  These songs may simply advocate for peace in general, or indirectly touch upon the concept.  However, undoubtedly the following entrants have an important place in music and on our playlists.


1. "Blowin’ in the Wind"- Bob Dylan

One of the most iconic songs in music history, Bob Dylan’s masterpiece is a testament to the art of folk music.  A gentle ballad that is sung over the backdrop of Dylan’s acoustic guitar, this song speaks to the horrors and negatives of war.  It advocates for peace in a time when the United States was deadlocked in a tense proxy war with the Soviet Union in Vietnam.  The song poses a series of ambiguous questions about peace and war. The answers to these questions “are blowin’ in the wind.”


2. "Give Peace a Chance"- John Lennon

Considering how Yoko Ono, Ringo Starr, and Jeff Bridges have recently recreated the famous “Bed-In” inspired by John Lennon and Ono’s Vietnam War protest, this song certainly holds relevance to a modern day audience.  A simple lyric line, “All we are saying is give peace a chance,” that is incredibly powerful and impactful. The line is chanted over and over again to cement the point, and sung by an entire chorus of regular, ordinary people looking to make a difference in the world.


3. "Imagine"- John Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band

This song is deceptively simple asking us to imagine a world of peace, a world without war, poverty, and destruction.  However, it turns out that this is something that is actually rather difficult to do considering our past and present.  John Lennon's beautiful vocals idealize about a world that we can all aspire to achieve together, as "a brotherhood of man."  With a simple piano providing harmony, the song is immensely powerful, despite its simplicity.  


4. "Take it Easy"- The Eagles

This song differs from the other three entrants on this list.  Rather than directly talking about peace, Glenn Frey sings about relaxation and taking a laid-back approach to life.  It isn't advocating for peace in general, but rather a peaceful lifestyle! This song heralds back to the band’s southern rock roots with its crooning vocals and acoustic guitar track. It’s the perfect song to listen to when you're driving down the road, or just taking a walk outside.


5. "Peace on Earth"- U2

A song that starts slow but eventually builds to its climax with each passing verse, "Peace on Earth," as its name suggests, is a testament to something heartfelt and human.  Its title emphasizes a universal appeal and speaks to a diverse range of people from all four corners of the Earth. The lyrics are deeply tragic, but its ultimate message evokes a sense of hope that everyone can share.


6. "Peace of Mind"- Boston

This fast-paced rock and roll anthem has certainly held its own as one of Boston’s best songs.  The song itself comes from the band’s self-titled album, Boston, and is one of the catchier tunes from the list.  An eclectic mixture of acoustic and electric guitar, this upbeat tune is irresistible in large part because of its diverse instrumentation. Unlike earlier entrants, it doesn't directly call for peace.  However, it is undeniably a song about seeking a different kind of peace, one that we all strive to attain in our lives.


7. "We are the World"- USA for Africa

This was a song that was actually created in support of a greater cause.  Combining the vocals of numerous popular artists from the time period, including Michael Jackson, the ballad’s gentle melody is both hopeful and optimistic.  The inclusion of a choral ensemble at the end suggests unity in a time when it has never been needed more.


8. "Give me Love"- George Harrison

George Harrison’s solo career is severely underrated, often overlooked in favor of his work with the universally acclaimed Beatles.  However, this is one of the many solo works by the late artist that demonstrates his amazing musical abilities. The instrumentation is simple, playing second to Harrison’s vocals which speak to both love and peace.  Like the previous entrant, “Peace on Earth," this song also calls for unity among mankind.  Quite simply, it is an amazing piece of music that demonstrates how something so simple can actually mean so much more. A true testament to the power of music.


9. "Learning to Fly"- Pink Floyd

This slow-paced song by Pink Floyd contains elements that are inherent to the psychedelic rock band.  This includes elements such as lyrics that seem almost nonsensical, beautiful electric guitar, and wispy vocals. The song itself certainly doesn't mention peace in a direct way, but the gentle rhythm to the melody and the song's almost hypnotic feel make it a worthy addition to this list.  


10. "Feed the World (Do they know it’s Christmas)"- Band-Aid

Just like “We are the World,” this song also demonstrates the power of a group of influential men and women coming together to selflessly create something for a higher purpose.  If you haven’t heard this song on the radio before, especially at Christmas, then you’re definitely missing out. The lyrics are meaningful and catchy, providing a great example of a pop song that topped the Billboard with pure intentions.  The beautiful chorus is both gentle and powerful, a great demonstration of the influence of music on the world.


What's your favorite peace song?