Eve of Destruction
Date Aired
April 1, 2016
Running Time
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Todd plays "Eve of Destruction" on the piano.

A one-hit wonder retrospective

Todd: Welcome back to One Hit Wonderland, where we take a look at the full careers of bands and artists known for only one song. And I gotta be honest—I feel like this series has gotten [brief clip of Dead or Alive - "You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)"] bogged down a bit in the '80s and '90s. The Music Video Era is very kind to the show, but I want to branch out a bit. So instead, let's go back, way back to the [picture of hippies] '60s. In fact, today, we're doing maybe the sixtiesest song ever written.

Video for "Eve of Destruction"
Barry McGuire: Eastern world, it is explodin'

Todd (VO): This dude with the frog voice and the pageboy haircut is Barry McGuire. The year was 1965, and a white dude playing an acoustic guitar was not nearly as much of a tired cliche, partly because there was a good chance they'd actually sing about something that matters, as is the case here. Protest music was really starting to gain ground, and this was one of the first to hit it big on the pop charts.

Todd: And this wasn't one of those happy hippie anthems either. I mean, you can see it right in the title.

Barry: But you tell me
Over and over and over again my friend
Ah, you don't believe
We're on the eve of destruction

Todd: Yeah, none of that [picture of tie-dyed peace symbol] "give peace a chance, all you need is love" crap. No, the message is very clear: [pictures of atomic bomb explosion and person on bench wearing a hazmat suit with sign reading "the end is near"] the world is going to explode and we're all going to fucking die. "I'm telling you, man, it's all gonna be okay." Shut up! We're doomed!

Todd (VO): Of course, to understand the sentiment, you really needed to be there.

Barry: I think of all the hate there is in Red China
Take a look around to Selma, Alabama

Todd (VO): This song is very, very of its time, and littered with enough specific references to major world events to make a good, solid verse of "We Didn't Start the Fire."

Todd: I mean, check out all his concerns. [Present-day pictures of...] Human rights abuse in Communist China, war in the Middle East, racial tension and violence in America. In other words, it has zero relevance to the modern day.

Todd (VO): But, as a snapshot of the world in 1965, you could hardly hope for a more effective song. I mean, you look at the Beatles or the Stones, but if you really want a song from that year that really mapped out the direction of pop music, I'd listen to this. But that future would be one without Barry McGuire. McGuire largely dropped off the map, even as the '60s seemed to inch ever closer to the day of destruction. Why did such a thing happen? Did he die? I mean, it was the '60s.

Todd: Maybe he meant eve of self-destruction.

Barry: This whole crazy world is just too frustratin'
And you tell me

Before the hit

Transcript in progress

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