Edwin Starr, “War” and a Different Kind of (Eye to Eye) Contact

Well, it’s going to have to be a shorter post this time as I have an awful lot going on at the moment. The new business I hinted at a few weeks ago, came into our possession yesterday, so it’s all systems go now to get it up and running as soon as possible. More on that to follow in the weeks to come, but in the meantime, my featured artist for this post is going to be Edwin Starr.

Why would that be Alyson?

Because this week, of all weeks, I have been afflicted with a nasty eye infection. On Monday evening, my right eye appeared to be glued together, and the redness and swelling surrounding it suggested I had just gone five rounds with Mike Tyson. I had loads of very important business-y type stuff to organise over the next few days in town, and here I was looking like something from Fight Club

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Of late, I have been very good at body-swerving Doctor Google if I have an ailment, as whatever rabbit hole you disappear down, the diagnosis is always a tumour of some sort. In this instance however, I was pretty sure it wasn’t an eye tumour, so I needed a bit of guidance on how to clear up the infection as soon as possible. After a bit of gentle bathing in warm water, Mr WIAA was dispatched to the chemist’s for some eye drops, which I must say have worked their magic. I had to lie low for the whole of Tuesday though, so as not to frighten poor unsuspecting children, and for the rest of the week I have had to be careful not to transfer the bacteria (sounds gross I know) to the other eye. Oh yes, I was already blind in one eye, so important not to make (Eye To Eye) Contact with the other. Cue Mr Starr (starts to really get going at 2:10).

Regulars to this place will know I wrote quite a lengthy post a fortnight ago on the disco genre. A fair bit of research had to be done (I watched a recorded episode of a TOTP Disco Special), and one of the songs I was reminded of, was indeed (Eye To Eye) Contact. It actually found greater success in the UK than across the pond, and reached No. 8 in the Singles Chart in early 1979.

I only found out recently from one of the other music blogs, that Mr Starr, a native of Nashville Tennessee, actually spent his later life living in the North of England. He had become a big “star” on the Northern Soul circuit, where many of his lesser-known Motown classics had found favour with that movement’s faithful. He moved to a village on the outskirts of Nottingham in 1973, and died there in 2003, aged only 61.

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Edwin Starr

But this foray into the world of disco (he also recorded the uplifting H.A.P.P.Y. Radio) was more of a comeback for him. The recording – I’m loath to call it a song as it’s more of a dramatic soul roar – he is probably best remembered for however, is War, the 1970 counter-culture protest song. Powerful stuff.

War

     huh

          yeah

What is it good for?

     Absolutely nothing

          oh hoh, oh 

War by Edwin Starr:

Edwin Starr’s intense vocals transformed this Temptations’ album track into a totally different animal, and it spent three weeks at the top of the Billboard chart. It was an anthem for the anti-war movement, and it continues to appear on movie soundtracks and hip hop music samples today. War appeared on both Starr’s “War & Peace” album, and its follow-up.

And here is where I have made a new discovery. I am usually late to the party but it seems Bruce Springsteen started performing War in concert in 1985. It was initially suggested as something to make the concluding shows of the Born In The USA tour a little bit different and special. Bruce and the E Street Band came up with a rock arrangement that worked well for them, and once released as a single in 1986, it got to No. 8 on the Billboard chart. Again, powerful stuff, and this time a protest against the Reagan Administration’s foreign policy in Central America. 

I will leave you with a video clip of Bruce, who after an impassioned talky intro (starts at 0:50), looks very much as if he might burst a blood vessel performing the song. Fortunately he survived unscathed, and unlike poor old Edwin Starr, is still out there doing his thing today. 

Until next time…

War Lyrics
(Song by Norman Whitfield/Barrett Strong)

War huh yeah
What is it good for?
Absolutely nothing, oh hoh, oh
War huh yeah
What is it good for?
Absolutely nothing, say it again y’all
War, huh good God
What is it good for?
Absolutely nothing, listen to me

Oh, war, I despise
‘Cause it means destruction of innocent lives
War means tear to thousands of mothers eyes
When their sons go off to fight and lose their lives

I said
War, huh good God y’all
What is it good for?
Absolutely nothing, just say it again
War whoa Lord
What is it good for?
Absolutely nothing, listen to me
War, it ain’t nothin’ but a heartbreaker
War, friend only to the undertaker

Oh war, is an enemy to all mankind
The thought of war blows my mind
War has caused unrest within the younger generation
Induction, then destruction who wants to die

War, good God, y’all
What is it good for?
Absolutely nothing, say it, say it, say it
War, uh huh, yeah, huh
What is it good for?
Absolutely nothing, listen to me
War, it ain’t nothin’ but a heartbreaker
War, it’s got one friend that’s the undertaker

Oh, war has shattered many young man’s dreams
Made him disabled bitter and mean
Life is much to short and precious to spend fighting wars these days
War can’t give life it can only take it away, ooh

War, huh, good God y’all
What is it good for?
Absolutely nothing, say it again
War, whoa, Lord
What is it good for?
Absolutely nothing, listen to me
War, it ain’t nothin’ but a heartbreaker
War, friend only to the undertaker

Peace love and understanding tell me
Is there no place for them today
They say we must fight to keep our freedom
But Lord knows there’s got to be a better way

War, huh, good God y’all
What is it good for?
You tell ’em, say it, say it, say it, say it
War, good Lord, huh
What is it good for?
Stand up and shout it, nothing
War, it ain’t nothin’ but a heartbreaker

Author: Alyson

Whenever I hear an old song on the radio, I am immediately transported back to those days - I know I'm not alone here and want to record those memories for myself and for the people in them. 50 years ago the song "Alfie" was written by my favourite songwriting team Bacharach and David - The opening line to that song was "What's it all about?" and I'm hoping that by writing this blog, I might find the answer to that question.

15 thoughts on “Edwin Starr, “War” and a Different Kind of (Eye to Eye) Contact”

  1. I was lucky enough to be among the crowd at Wembley Stadium one day in the Summer of 1988, when Edwin joined Bruce onstage to sing ‘War’ as a duet – unforgettable. Sorry to hear about your eye problems Alyson. I suffered from styes regularly when I was a kid, so your description of the gungeiness involved rang a few bells. Hope you’re well on the mend now.

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    1. That must have been quite a performance having both of them on stage at the same time – Nice of Bruce to invite him (which is I presume what must have happened).

      Yes my eye is looking a lot better now thanks but weird how it can just appear from nowhere, and on a week I had loads of places to be! Been wearing eye makeup on only one eye for the last few days so as not to contaminate my expensive mascara – the one-eyed panda look but hopefully people understood.

      Thanks for dropping by.

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  2. Glad your eye is on the mend. Hope the business gets off to a good start
    Two great versions of a great song and one whose lyrics we should all subscribe to.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, it is and yes, hope to get this new business on track very soon. I do love to share, as you know, so more to follow on that!

      And yes, lyrics that are just as meaningful today although sad to say, the “Wars” we have nowadays in the western world, seem to be wars on drugs, cyber-crime, etc etc.

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  3. So sorry to hear about the eye infection, glad it’s getting better. I totally relate to the make-up dilemma, wearing it on only one eye! You could always rock the Gabrielle look with a fashionable eye-patch. Whilst nowhere near as painful or unpleasant, a few months back I had an inexplicable twitch in my right eye. It wasn’t like I’ve had before, that quick fluttery type you feel in your eyelid from time to time, that no-one else could see, no this one was a full-on, very slow, uncontrollable and complete wink. Very strange. It went away on its own but whilst it was happening I was very self-conscious about who I spoke to and what I was saying… could have led to all sorts of misunderstandings down the Co-op when asking the nice young male cashier if he had any ripe bananas…(etc etc etc…)
    Edwin Starr – fab. War is such a good song and never sounds out-of-date (for so many reasons).
    Also will be excited to hear more about the new business venture…. you and Mr WIAA are clearly a dynamic duo!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes all better now, although I had to use eye drops up until yesterday. Still not used my expensive mascara on that eye yet that as want to make sure it doesn’t get contaminated! Never had such a sore, ugly eye in my life, and I definitely couldn’t mix in polite society (or impolite society) until it was better, so bad timing indeed. As for the winking eye – My hairdresser had that recently which was very awkward for her. Like you, it did go away of its own accord, but all very strange.

      War, yes a timeless song by someone whom I didn’t realise until recently, spent most of their adult life living in rural Nottinghamshire. Again, all very strange.

      As for us being a dynamic duo – NO, we are so not. Having said that, the events of last year with my mum have changed things for us. The care home is working out well for her but it is very expensive. I was having sleepless nights worrying about what would happen if her funds run out – Action needs to be taken now, so that we might be in a position to help out with that down the line. I had many rants about this subject last year as you know, so won’t bore you again, but in a funny way it has made us embark on something we might never have done. Every cloud an’ all that.

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  4. As you know, I’m a bit rubbish at getting round to read what my blogging peers have been up to (I’ve had a pretty good excuse for a while, but I think that must be due to run out any moment now), more so commenting on it, but here I am.

    Bit annoyed C got to the eye-patch reference before I did too, truth be told.

    But anyway, glad to hear that the Alyson Eye (a bit like the London Eye, but with more eye drops being squirted into the mechanics) is on the mend, even more so that an exciting new business venture is afoot.

    And also I had no idea that Edwin Starr eked out his days in Nottinghamshire. I should visit more often!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha ha – Yes you’re not one to venture out much are you, but as Dick Emery used to say, “it doesn’t matter, because we like you”. (Maybe a tad before your time that one.) Anyway thanks for dropping by.

      Yes for a brief nano-second I did consider the Gabrielle sparkly eye-patch (or the Ray Sawyer one) but decided I would attract way more attention than if I just rocked the red & puffy eye look. Nearly back to normal now, although I feel bad even mentioning it as compared to what you’ve been through of late, just a minor inconvenience really. Hope your own health issues are under control at the moment.

      I can’t remember where I picked up that snippet about Edwin Starr (I have a feeling it was over at CC’s place) but yes, I found it quite surprising that the massive presence that was Edwin Starr could be found living in rural Nottinghamshire. Wonder if he ever invited the neighbours over for a sing-a-long – That could have been a hoot!

      Until next time…

      Liked by 1 person

  5. As Billy Bragg once sang, “Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong are here to put right everything that’s wrong”. Certainly the case with that tune, whichever version you choose.

    Good luck with the new business venture. Glad they eye is better.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It certainly is a tune – Just as relevant today, sadly.

      Yes, I am no longer a ringer for Gabrielle which is just as well. Very busy at the moment so not had as much time for visiting the other blogs. Kind of wishing I hadn’t taken on the college course now, but didn’t realise last summer my mum would now be in a care home, and that I might have to pay for it! All part of life’s rich pattern I suppose.

      Liked by 1 person

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