Vietnam Music Monday: “Ball of Confusion”

Ball of Confusion (That’s What the World Is Today)

“Ball of Confusion (That’s What the World Is Today)” was released in 1970 and reached No. 3 on the U.S. pop charts and No. 2 on the U.S. R&B charts. (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, 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. We encourage you to add your favorite songs of the era to the comment section!

Ball of Confusion (That’s What the World Is Today) (1970)

Recorded by the Temptations

The Temptations were one of Motown’s most popular groups, selling millions of records. By the 1970s, the group had begun tackling strong political themes that reflected the mood of the nation. “Ball of Confusion,” sung in the quick delivery used by today’s hip-hop artists, listed a wide range of issues facing the country, from the space race to Vietnam, racial segregation and poverty.


Eve of destruction, tax deduction, city inspectors, bill collectors
Mod clothes in demand, population out of hand, suicide, too many bills
Hippies moving to the hills
People all over the world are shouting “End the war”
And the band played on

Purchase “Ball of Confusion” on Amazon or iTunes.

“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.

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