How did the Gulf War affect music in the 1990s?

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boomer-sooner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Gulf War's influence on music is linked to the Vietnam War.  The devastated morale at the close of Vietnam led many young people growing up in the 1970s and 80s to hear horror stories of Vietnam and the treatment of veterans on the homefront.  When the Gulf War occurred in the early 1990s, it was the chance for a generation to seize control of their war effort and ensure it did not end in disaster.  The music of the time reflected the mostly positive nature of the conflict.

There were certainly protest songs from "Slap Leather" by James Taylor to "Highwire" by the Rolling Stones.  However, the majority of music addressing the war was positive.  Rewrites of famous songs with messages of support for the troops were common.  The generation not directly involved saw an opportunity to support their troops, unlike previous generations for Vietnam.  There was a shared sentiment of "let's get it right this time" among young people.

Outside the music addressing the war, the war influenced music because of the upbeat culture.  Technology was advancing at an incredible pace, MTV was all the rage, and a new spirit of experimentation circulated.  This led to widespread tastes in music and a yearning for something different.  Rap music was entering the scene as a major influence on the music landscape.  MC Hammer led the charts with his unique brand and Dr. Dre was gaining popularity.

The war influenced music in two ways.  The counter Vietnam culture demanded songs of support rather than protest.  Technological improvements also demanded broad tastes in music, allowing for many unique artists to flourish, if only for a short time.   

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