10 Rock Songs Written About Historical Events

Though they don't number as high as rock songs about love, sex or being misunderstood, there are more than 10 rock songs written about historical events. This list of rock songs about historical events are some of the most notable and memorable, both for the quality of the songs themselves and for the events they commemorate. Here is our notable list of rock songs about historical events.

  1. "Sunday Bloody Sunday" by U2 This song about the troubles in Northern Ireland is U2's most significant anthem. Its power places it at the top of our list of ten rock songs about historical events.
  2. "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" by Gordon Lightfoot Lightfoot's enduring gem of a song about the most significant disaster in the history of Great Lakes shipping is the artist's most well-known song. It is the first song many think of when considering rock songs about historical events.
  3. "Holland, 1945" by Neutral Milk Hotel This song about Anne Frank from mysterious songwriter Jeff Mangum is a blissful, surreal anthem of escape. The escape was a fantasy Anne Frank could never live out.
  4. "American Skin (41 Shots)" by Bruce Springsteen The Boss wrote this song following the death of Amadou Diallo, an African immigrant, by New York policemen. Diallo was unarmed and the event caused controversy, as did the song, probably Springsteen's most important rock song about an historical event.
  5. "Bullet" by the Misfits This blistering punk song about the Kennedy assassination is not very reverent. That does not matter because it is one of the most memorable rock songs about historical events ever written.
  6. "Black Friday" by Steely Dan The stock market crash helps to build a metaphor of despair in this Steely Dan song. It is a lyrical masterpiece and one of the most memorable rock songs about historical events to come out of the '70s.
  7. "Spanish Bombs" by the Clash This song about the Spanish Civil War aligns the Clash with the revolutionaries. It is one of several rock songs about historical events written by the Clash, alongside "White Riot" and others.
  8. "Belsen Was a Gas" by the Sex Pistols This irreverent Holocaust memorial was one of the Pistols' final songs. Many miss the message of pain in its sarcastic intent.
  9. "The Ballad of Ira Hayes" by Johnny Cash Cash's recording of this ballad, the story of a Native American who was one of the men to raise the flag on Iwo Jima, is one of the best rock songs about historical events ever recorded, even though some might call it a country song. Country, rock, whatever, it's a classic.
  10. "Victor Jara's Hands" by Calexico This song about a Chilean revolutionary and poet who was tortured and killed is a powerful, beautiful song from Calexico. It is a fitting end to this list of rock songs about historical events.
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