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Eve of Destruction - Barry McGuire

For maybe ten years I was in enough demand as a specialist across the generations deejay to be hired to do News Year's Eve disco's. Looking back I can't believe it took me five years of faffing around with a radio, getting Radio 4 to strike the hour of midnight, finding special leads to connect a tranny radio with my mixer before I figured that I could call midnight with my own recording of Big Ben when ever I wanted it, five to or five past, no-one cared so long as they heard the chimes and we sang "Auld lang syne"; but the next track, the one after midnight, was the killer, the make or breaker. You had to get it right. Otherwise they were off home by half past twelve and the management weren't happy, having laid on staff and booze till two. A staple was Frank Sinatra's "New York, New York", others were Zorba's Dance, Alisha's Keys' "New York", even Louis Armstrong. But for the Millennium New Year (2000) I avoided Robbie Williams (who?) and risked a wry poke at the doom mongers who predicted the world would end by playing Barry McGuire's "Eve of Destruction".

There is something about the chorus of this song that makes whole rooms of people want to spin round and round as though there was no centre of gravity to their lives, that releases them from their normal constraints of space while dancing. In the birth of the year 2000 I noticed that everyone on the floor carved circle after circle as though there was no tomorrow as he sang:

"tell me over and over and over again my friend

you don't believe we're on the eve of destruction"

but if you listen to the words this is a song, recorded in 1965, as much about Vietnam, and American foreign policy messing up the rest of the world as anything. Every time I have done the "year's midnight" watch since I have used this as the prime midnight track. And every year, sadly, the lyrics have rung truer than the year before. So sing along, and dance those revolutions of freedom, but most of all pay attention to the words:

"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'........"

What makes it so stirring is McGuire's palpable anger as he sings:

"....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.

Think of all the hate there is in Red China then take a look around to Selma, Alabama..... ....the poundin' of the drums, the pride and disgrace, you can bury your dead, but don't leave a trace, hate your next door neighbour, but don't forget to say grace, and you tell me over and over and over and over again my friend, you don't believe we're on the eve of destruction...."

please please please please can't we change all this in 2019? We can only do it by voting some people in who really will change things. Whoever they are. Happy New Year and peace to the world.

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