This week in 1965, Barry McGuire's "Eve Of Destruction" went to No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard Chart (Sep 15, 1965).
I've upscaled and improved the colour saturation of the original colour clip.
Written by 19-year-old P.F. Sloan, EVE OF DESTRUCTION was a protest song about political issues of the '60s, many radio stations refused to play it because of its anti-government lyrics.
There was an upside to this controversy, however, as it piqued interest in the song, sending it to #1 in the US.
The song took on racism, hypocrisy and injustice at a volatile time in American history. The assassination of US President John F. Kennedy in 1963 was a big influence on the song.
It would become a hippie anthem as the Vietnam War escalated. The song was not written specifically about the war, but the conflict in Vietnam made it even more relevant.
"The song 'Eve of Destruction' was written in the early morning hours between midnight and dawn in mid-1964," explained P.F. Sloan.
"The song contained a number of issues that were unbearable for me at the time. I wrote it as a prayer to God for an answer."
"I have felt it was a love song and written as a prayer because, to cure an ill you need to know what is sick. In my youthful zeal I hadn't realized that this would be taken as an attack on The System!"
The song was originally recorded by The Turtles, who released it on their first album earlier in 1965. The Turtles initially did not release it as a single (only doing so in 1970, shortly before they broke up), and ex-The New Christy Minstrels' member Barry McGuire's version became the hit.
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. The producer Jay Lasker brought the song to Los Angeles radio station KFWB the morning it was finished, where it was played for the first time.
Legendary session drummer Hal Blaine played on this, and considers it one of his favorites.
Socially speaking, an Eve can take decades to become the main event. It seems to me that, like the song's conception, the hour is early morning of the big day. Frankly, I'm okay with that. We know this nation was always a goal, not a reality, and one too difficult for humans to achieve. Those who follow will say we were ambitious. The treason against Caesar led to war and so it shall likely be for us. Be sure to burn it all down, this time, and don't find a Nero to rebuild it. Our great intentions only created a monstrous evil. Prove me wrong.