escalated over the years as it used its massive firepower, advanced technology, and huge manpower to suppress Vietcongs, who were mostly farmers armed with recoilless rifles (“Enemy’s Weapons”). Until now, Americans are divided in their sentiments about the war (Schroeder). This may have been because U.S. involvement did not bring any substantial change to Vietnam. It only caused America to lose “58,000 lives and billions of tax dollars” (Schroeder).
The Vietnam War began in 1963 and ended in 1975. “Machine Gun” by Jimi Hendrix was first performed in a concert on New Year’s Eve of 1970 (Perone 62). It is likely that the song was composed in the closing months of 1969. Hence, it was composed during the war. 1969 is also the year when the number of U.S. military personnel in Vietnam reached its peak and the year when My Lai Massacre, a massacre of 504 unarmed Vietnamese civilians, was revealed (“Vietnam War Timeline”).
The 1960s was a decade when music has become very political. There was no other period in music history when it embraced politics more closely as it did in the 1960s (Hopkins 255). Jimi Hendrix was among those musicians who expressed their political sentiments through their craft. There is no record on how it affected Vietnam War politically. However, several researchers attest that it did affect public sentiment towards the war. Westergaard, describing Hendrix’s guitar solo during the performance, says it is “the most devastating guitar solo ever” (qtd. in Perone 62)—hinting at the feeling of war terror it gave to listeners and the dismantling of pro-war sentiments on some. In reference to the My Lai Massacre, Hopkins writes that during the performance, sounds like “dive-bombing planes and Vietnamese women shrieking at the sight of their children’s deaths” were heard by the audience (255). Such effect on the audience is likely to have aroused or increased anti-war sentiments among Americans.
As the lyrics implies,