…..it was reported that RCA Records had dropped country artist John Denver from its roster after he released the single, ‘(Let Us begin) What Are We Making Weapons For’……why would they do that I hear you ask? Well, the new owner of RCA at that time was General Electric, one of the largest defence contractors in the US…ahh, that’ll be it then….here’s the song and short film made by Denver…..you can read more about his political activism (see below)
In addition to his writing and recording career, John Denver was a political activist, and in 1985 when he toured the Soviet Union he was moved greatly by a visit to the Piskaryovka Memorial Cemetery where literally hundreds of thousands of victims of the Siege of Leningrad are buried. He also met Alexander Gradsky, the leading singer-songwriter in Russia, and the following year at the Melodiya Studios in Moscow they recorded this anti-war number, from both US and Soviet perspectives.
Denver commissioned a short film for the song, which was put together from archive footage by his friend Obie Benz. This is believed to have been the first time an American and Soviet artist had performed together in a music video. As well as sharing the vocals with Gradsky, the recording included the Red Army Chorus “to go behind the spirit and the meaning” of the song
Denver himself said this was simply the best piece of work that he had ever produced in his career.
This song precipitated a split between Denver and his record company RCA, which had recently been acquired by General Electric, who had military contracts and really couldn’t have an artist singing about the issues in that song. Denver and RCA weren’t on the best terms anyway, and there’s a good chance they would have parted regardless of this song.
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