War Song

O.A.R., 2008

O.A.R. and Roberge wrote "War Song" in 2007. How did military strategy in Iraq change in that year?

Why does the snare drum create a military atmosphere in the song? Is the instrument used in the military? Can you think of other songs that use the snare drum to invoke the military?

The songwriters said this song was about the servicemen and women they met in Iraq. What does this song suggest were the concerns of the people they met?

"War Song" performed by O.A.R. on All Sides, © 2008 Available on iTunes, Spotify, and YouTube.

For more information about O.A.R., visit their official website.

Rights have not been secured to reprint the words for this song. Please consult the following online resource for lyrics:

http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/
oarofarevolution/warsong.html

The band O.A.R. (an initialism for "… of a revolution") was formed by four high school students in Rockville, Maryland, in 1996. Initially the band consisted of lead singer and rhythm guitarist Marc Roberge, drummer Chris Culos, bassist Benj Gershman, and lead guitarist Richard On. When attending Ohio State University, the band expanded to include saxophonist and guitarist Jerry DePizzo. O.A.R. created a large following by encouraging fans to record their live performances. As it had for the Grateful Dead a generation earlier, this enabled free sharing of their music via a grass roots network. New in the 1990s, however, were file sharing services like Napster, which allowed recordings of O.A.R.'s performances to be widely disseminated on the internet.

Although their name is "… of a revolution," their lyrics are far from rebellious. Their musical style is eclectic and encompasses characteristics of rock, reggae, and folk, with prominent guitar and emphatic lyrics that relate a common human experience. Their website describes the "thread that runs through [O.A.R.'s] music" as "affirmation and uplift" and refers to each of the band's performances as a "communal celebration" ("O.A.R.: Just Like Paradise").

All Sides cover
Cover for O.A.R.'s album All Sides.

On and Roberge wrote "War Song" after the band traveled to Kuwait and Iraq on a 2007 USO tour to support the troops deployed in the Iraq War. The opening lyrics, "Oh, my God, tell me this won't last forever," could be seen to reflect their reaction to the war, but the song is less about their opinion than it is about the experiences of the military personnel they encountered. Roberge says, "In 2007, we went to Iraq and Kuwait to play songs for our troops with the USO. It was a huge moment. When we got back, we wrote this song about the people we had met—a song about the warrior, not the war" ("O.A.R.: Just Like Paradise").  

Underlying the first verse of the studio version of the song is a snare drum that projects a military atmosphere. After the first chorus ("Many days from now I'm sure…"), the intensity of the lyrics and music build. The acoustic lead guitar is replaced by an electric guitar, and the military-style pattern of the snare gives way to a more traditional rock pattern. The military style returns, as does the acoustic lead guitar, in the song's outro.