Rebirth of the Cool: War

Hey, kids, time for another encapsulation of one song’s multiple reincarnation through the years. This time, we’re looking at “War”.

“War” – Edwin Starr


You, quite rightly, know “War” as this stirring, passionate polemic delivered by Edwin Starr in 1970. Well-timed for the tension of the Vietnam War, the song went to #1 on Billboard‘s “Hot 100” chart and garnered a Grammy nod for Starr. But this blunt, powerful piece did not originate with Starr. Penned and produced by Motown’s Barrett Strong and Norman Whitfield, the song was originally recorded by R&B gods the Temptations. The song was nuzzled – side 2, track 2 – into their 1970 album Psychedelic Shack.

“War” – The Temptations


The Temptations’ version was never released as a single. About this, Edwin Starr said, “It was buried on one of their albums. But then a lot of mail came in, mostly from students, asking why they didn’t release it on a 45. Well, that was a touchy time, and that song had some implications. It was a message record, an opinion record, and stepped beyond being sheer entertainment. It could become a smash record, and that was fine, … Continue reading