Vietnam Music Monday: “Machine Gun”

Machine Gun

“Machine Gun” by Jimi Hendrix was released on March 25, 1970. (Newseum Collection)

Music played an important cultural role during the Vietnam War, representing the rebellious views of a young generation and the traditional values of an older, so-called “silent majority.” The Newseum selected 40 songs released between 1963 and 1973 that typified the music of the Vietnam era. The songs captured the emotions of people for and against the war and reflected the mood of an increasingly diverse country amid dramatic social and political change.

The 40 songs, part of the Newseum’s “Reporting Vietnam” exhibit that opens May 22, are a fraction of the hundreds of recordings that dealt with the war and civil disobedience. Each week, one song from the playlist will be featured. Today’s selection, “Machine Gun” by Jimi Hendrix, condemned the violence of the war seen across America on the evening news.

We encourage you to add your favorite songs of the era to the comment section.

Machine Gun (1970)

Jimi Hendrix

Jimi Hendrix was one of the most influential electric guitarists in the history of rock music. “Machine Gun,” which first appeared as a live recording on the “Band of Gypsies” album, was a biting condemnation of the war’s violence. The song featured long improvisations and a provocative rat-a-tat-tat drum riff that mimicked the sound of a machine gun. Hendrix died of a drug overdose six months after the song was released.


Machine gun
Tearing my body all apart
Evil man make me kill ya
Evil man make you kill me
Evil man make me kill you
Even though we’re only families apart

Purchase “Machine Gun” on iTunes.

The opening section of “Reporting Vietnam” explores the culture clash between the Woodstock generation and the Silent Majority and features a shirt, vest, scarf and pants worn by Hendrix on stage in the late 1960s. Jimi’s sister, Janie Hendrix, personally brought the outfit to the Newseum for the exhibit on loan from the collection of James “Al” Hendrix – Experience Hendrix, L.L.C., courtesy of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, Cleveland, Ohio.

Janie Hendrix Visit

“Reporting Vietnam,” a new exhibit that marks the 50th anniversary of the start of America’s first televised war, explores the dramatic stories of how journalists brought news about the war to a divided nation.

CBS News

Contributing support for the “Reporting Vietnam” exhibit is provided by CBS Corporation, in memory of CBS News correspondent Bob Simon.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *