Barry McGuire - Eve of Destruction

Barry McGuire - Eve of Destruction

‘Eve of Destruction’ is a protest song written by P. F. Sloan in mid-1965. Several artists have recorded it, but the most popular recording was by Barry McGuire. The song references social issues of its period, including the Vietnam War, the draft, the threat of nuclear war, the Civil Rights Movement, turmoil in the Middle East, and the American space program. The American media helped popularize the song by using it as an example of everything that was wrong with the youth culture of the time. Due to its controversial lyrics, some American radio stations banned the song, "claiming it was an aid to the enemy in Vietnam".

This was originally recorded by The Turtles, who released it on their first album earlier in 1965. The Turtles did not release it as a single, and McGuire's version became the hit. As management problems and personnel changes plagued The Turtles, they finally decided to release this as a single in 1970, shortly before they broke up. It was their last song to chart, reaching #100.

McGuire's recording was made between July 12 and July 15, 1965, and released by Dunhill Records. The accompanying musicians were P. F. Sloan on guitar and "Wrecking Crew" session musicians Hal Blaine on drums and Larry Knechtel on bass guitar. McGuire's vocal was recorded late at night as a rough take. His voice was raspy and tired, but the producer loved it and used that take. McGuire's vocal track was not intended to be the final version, but a copy of the rough mix "leaked" out to a disc jockey, who began playing it. The song was an instant hit, and as a result, the more polished vocal track that was at first envisioned was never recorded.


McGuire recalled in later years that ‘Eve of Destruction’ had been recorded in one take on a Tuesday morning, with him reading lyrics scrawled on a crumpled piece of paper. The following Monday morning he got a phone call from the record company at 7:00 a.m., telling him to turn on the radio; his song was playing. McGuire's single hit #1 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and #3 on the UK Singles Chart in September 1965.

In the first week of its release, the single was at No. 103 on the Billboard charts. By August 12 Dunhill released the LP, Eve of Destruction. It reached its peak of #37 on the Billboard album chart during the week ending September 25. That same day the single went to #1 on the chart, and repeated the feat on the Cashbox chart, where it had debuted at No. 30. McGuire would never again break into the top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100. It went to #1 in Norway for two weeks.

Labels – Dunhill (USA), RCA Victor (outside the USA)
Songwriter – P. F. Sloan
Producers – Lou Adler, P. F. Sloan, Steve Barri


[Verse 1]
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 you tell me over and over and over again, my friend
Ah, you don't believe we're on the eve of destruction
[Verse 2]
Don't you understand what I'm tryin' to say?
And 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
[Verse 3]
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 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
[Verse 4]
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
No, no, you don't believe we're on the eve of destruction
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