1960s Protest Music Handsome Johnny by Richie Havens

Artist: Richie Havens

Name of the song: Handsome Johnny

Recorded/Released: 1967

Other famous songs: "Motherless Child" and "Freedom"


Hey, look yonder, tell me what's that you see

Marching to the fields of Concord?

It looks like Handsome Johnny with a musket in his hand,

Marching to the Concord war, hey marching to the Concord war.


Hey, what's the use of singing this song, some of you are not even listening.

Tell me what it is we've got to do: wait for our fields to start glistening,

Wait for the bullets to start whistling

Here comes a hydrogen bomb, here comes a guided missile,

Here comes a hydrogen bomb: I can almost hear its whistle.

Analysis: In the song, "Handsome Johnny" is represented as all the Confederacy soldiers and people at home who fought in ongoing battles. The lyric describes the sacrifices and heroic actions that U.S. soldiers and the people have made for their country. Richie Havens talks about these battles that had connections with the U.S. because he wants the authorities to consider further into their continuous violent actions before committing them and making bigger conflicts. Havens questions what will it take for them to pay attention to their situation and take action to ease their problems. This lyric was related to the time period because when the song was released, the presence of U.S. troops in Vietnam increased and there was an increasing amount of protest, which included these popular protest musics, to end the war in Vietnam.

The overall inspiration and message: The overall inspiration and message of the lyrics is that we shouldn't idolize violence to be our solution to every conflict we face and if we happen to go through this situation, give appreciation to the people who fight the wars for us and give them the recognition that they deserve.

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