Wednesday, August 12, 2015

eve of destruction

Barry McGuire went to the top with the explosive protest of this chilling cautionary tale.   McGuire had been a part of The New Christy Minstrels before starting his solo career, releasing three albums (Barry Here and Now in 1962, The Barry McGuire Album in 1963, and This Precious Time in 1965) before having his greatest success with a song written by P.F. Sloan of The Fantastic Baggys.  

Sloan reveals:   "The song 'Eve of Destruction' was written in the early morning hours between midnight and dawn in mid-1964. The most outstanding experience I had in writing this song was hearing an inner voice inside of myself for only the second time. It seemed to have information no one else could've had. For example, I was writing down this line in pencil 'think of all the hate there is in Red Russia.' This inner voice said 'No, no it's Red China!' I began to argue and wrestle with that until near exhaustion. I thought Red Russia was the most outstanding enemy to freedom in the world, but this inner voice said the Soviet Union will fall before the end of the century and Red China will endure in crimes against humanity well into the new century! This inner voice that is inside of each and every one of us but is drowned out by the roar of our minds! The song contained a number of issues that were unbearable for me at the time. I wrote it as a prayer to God for an answer.    I have felt it was a love song and written as a prayer because, to cure an ill you need to know what is sick. In my youthful zeal I hadn't realized that this would be taken as an attack on The System! Examples: The media headlined the song as everything that is wrong with the youth culture. First, show the song is just a hack song to make money and therefore no reason to deal with its questions. Prove the 19-year old writer is a communist dupe. Attack the singer as a parrot for the writers word. The media claimed that the song would frighten little children. I had hoped thru this song to open a dialogue with Congress and the people. The media banned me from all national television shows. Oddly enough they didn't ban Barry. The United States felt under threat. So any positive press on me or Barry was considered un-patriotic. A great deal of madness, as I remember it! I told the press it was a love song. A love song to and for humanity, that's all. It ruined Barry's career as an artist and in a year I would be driven out of the music business too."

McGuire says:  "It blew me out of the water. Phil Sloan, the guy who wrote it told me twenty years I said, I wasn't looking to be a Rock 'n' Roll star or a singer or a famous person. I just liked singing songs. When I was in The Minstrels, I started to wonder what is this all about? What are we? What is this thing we call us? What's in the body? Is there a spiritual entity that lies within us? Is there a spark of God that dwells within the human form? I started into a spiritual search. When I sang "Eve", I just felt that that was a very honest statement. Phil wrote the tune. I heard it. It resonated in me as truth. I didn't know what the fullness of truth was. I was searching for truth and I thought if I'm going to find the truth, I've got to speak the truth as best as I can. So, I recorded the tune  ...  [Sloan] as a staff writer for Dunhill. And he wrote some good songs. I really liked "Let Me Be," I really liked "Child of Our Times." I really liked "This Precious Time" was a great song, and the Mamas and the Papas backed me on that song. And I've never been much of a songwriter. I mean, I wrote "Green, Green," but I've never been much of a songwriter. To have a songwriter that wrote so specifically what I felt to be true...I've never been much of an actor either. If something is real for me, then I can do it. But I can't really pretend I can do it if it's not. That's why I had to quit the Christys, 'cause it wasn't real for me anymore. That's why I had to leave Hair on Broadway, because I did it for about a year, and one night I was doing the show, and I realized, well, this is not real. I told the director. He says, man, it was a killer show tonight. The audience didn't know you were faking it. He says, you're getting to be an actor. I said, I don't want to be an actor. And I quit the show. (laughs)   And Phil wrote those songs that were just tailor-made for me. He told me years and years later that "Eve of Destruction" became a #1 tune without any payola or manipulation on behalf of the distributor record company, the networks in the industry, that it made kind of an end run. And all of a sudden it was a hit tune. There was a report that used to come out back in those days, I don't know if it was the Gavin Report or something like that. And they said, no matter what McGuire comes out with next, we're not gonna play it. Because their feeling was that I was like a loose cannon in the record industry, and they wanted to get me back in line. Rather than a career maker, "Eve of Destruction" turned into a career-breaker."

"Eve of Destruction"

The eastern world it is exploding
Violence flarin', bullets loadin'
You're old enough to kill but not for votin'
You don't believe in war but whats that gun you're totin'?
And even the Jordan River has bodies floatin'

But you tell me
Over and over and over again my friend
Ah, you don't believe
We're on the eve of destruction

Don't you understand what I'm tryin' to say
Can't you feel the fears I'm feelin' today?
If the button is pushed, there's no runnin' away
There'll be no one to save with the world in a grave
Take a look around you boy, it's bound to scare you boy

And you tell me
Over and over and over again my friend
Ah, you don't believe
We're on the eve of destruction

Yeah my blood's so mad feels like coagulating
I'm sitting here just contemplatin'
I can't twist the truth it knows no regulation
Handful of senators don't pass legislation
And marches alone can't bring integration
When human respect is disintegratin'
This whole crazy world is just too frustratin'

And you tell me
Over and over and over again my friend
Ah, you don't believe
We're on the eve of destruction

Think of all the hate there is in Red China
Then take a look around to Selma, Alabama
You may leave here for four days in space
But when you return it's the same old place
The pounding of the drums, the pride and disgrace
You can bury your dead but don't leave a trace
Hate your next door neighbor but don't forget to say grace

And tell me
Over and over and over and over again my friend
You don't believe
We're on the eve of destruction
Mmm, no, no, you don't believe
We're on the eve of destruction

 "Now think of all the hate, still living inside us
Its never too late, to let love guide us".

Eve of Destruction
full album:

1 Eve of Destruction   (P.F. Sloan)  3:38
2 She Belongs to Me   (Bob Dylan)  2:47
3 You Never Had It So Good  (P.F. Sloan)  3:06
4 Sloop John B.  (B. McGuire, B. Howe, P.F. Sloan, S. Barri / Traditional)  3:04
5 Baby Blue  (Bob Dylan)   3:16
6 Sins of a Family  (P.F. Sloan)  3:01
7 Try to Remember  (Tom Jones / Harvey Schmidt)  3:23 
8 Mr Man on the Street - Act One  (P.F. Sloan)  6:20
9 You Were on My Mind  (Sylvia Fricker)  2:32
10 Ain't No Way I'm Gonna Change My Mind  (P.F. Sloan)  2:30
11 What Exactly's the Matter With Me   (P.F. Sloan)  2:32
12 Why Not Stop and Dig It While You Can  (Barry McGuire)  2:15

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