A Bit Like You And Me Radio

June 29, 2016

Barry McGuire - Eve of Destruction (1965)

Barry McGuire was born on October 15, 1935 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, but moved to California at the young age of two years old. In the early 1960s, McGuire performed in a folk duo with Barry Kane, calling themselves Barry & Barry. In 1962, both McGuire and Kane joined a larger folk group known as The New Christy Minstrels. In 1965, McGuire left the Minstrels, wanting to record more political-oriented, serious music. He started off with a bang, as, that summer, he recorded what would be his most well-known song, “Eve of Destruction,” heard below. Its release propelled McGuire into international stardom, but unfortunately the artist would never again break into the Top 40. His lustrous career has spanned more than five decades, resulting in more than twenty-five albums.

Written by P. F. Sloan in 1964, this song was first offered to The Byrds, who were known to record political songs such as this one. However, The Byrds declined and the song was thus first recorded and released by The Turtles, whose version you can hear in one of our previous posts. As it was, the version recorded and released by Barry McGuire in July 1965 garnered the most success. Surprisingly, the version with McGuire was also only a rough draft.

In mid-July 1965, some members of The Wrecking Crew had recorded the music for “Eve of Destruction” for McGuire to use, and McGuire ran through the vocals off of a crumbled piece of paper to get a feel for the song. He only recorded one take, but sometime later that day, his rough cut was leaked to a DJ and the song became an instant hit overnight. Ultimately, the song went to number one in the United States and has since been widely regarded as an iconic anthem encompassing the mood of many during the 1960s.

album art

Barry McGuire - Eve of Destruction (1965)

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Lyrics:

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

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

Don'tcha understand what I'm tryin' to say?
And can't you feel the fears that 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 ya, boy; it's bound to scare ya, boy; and ya

Tell me over and over and over again, my friend
Ah, ya don't believe we're on the eve of destruction

Yeah, my blood's so mad, feels like coagulatin'
I'm sittin' here just contemplatin'
I can't twist the truth, it knows no regulation
Handful of sedatives 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 ya

Tell me over and over and over again my friend
Ah, ya 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
Ah, you may leave here for four days in space
But when you return, it's the same old place
The poundin' 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

Mm, no, no, you don't believe we're on the eve of destruction

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