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The Meaning Behind The Song: Tobacco Road / I Have a Dream / Tobacco Road by War

The Meaning Behind The Song: Tobacco Road / I Have a Dream / Tobacco Road by War

As a music critic, I have the wonderful opportunity to delve into the rich and intricate stories behind some of our favorite songs. Today, I want to discuss the profound meaning and impact of the song “Tobacco Road” by War.

I first heard this song on a sunny afternoon, while rummaging through a friend’s vinyl collection. Little did I know that this chance encounter would lead me on a journey through the depths of empathy, hope, and the desire for change.

“Tobacco Road” was originally written by John D. Loudermilk and became a hit for American rock band The Nashville Teens in 1964. However, it was War who truly breathed new life into the song when they covered it in their 1970 album, “Eric Burdon Declares War.”

The song begins with the haunting lyrics: “I was born in a filthy dump, my mother died, my daddy got drunk, and they left me here yes, to die or grow in the middle of Tobacco Road.” These opening lines immediately transport us to a world of pain, poverty, and despair. It paints a vivid picture of a place stricken by hardship, a place that the singer cannot escape from.

The lyrics take us through the singer’s personal journey, describing a childhood in a prefabricated shack and the dehumanizing experience of having one’s clothes taken away at school. The song captures the essence of poverty and the cyclical nature of life in a destitute environment.

Yet, there is an underlying current of resilience and determination in the song. The chorus repeats the phrase “Tobacco Road” to emphasize the profound impact this place has had on the singer’s life. Despite the hardships, he acknowledges that it is still home – the only life he has ever known.

However, the second part of the song, titled “I Have a Dream,” takes us on a different journey. The lyrics are introspective and introspective, with the artist sharing a dream that things can change. “I have a dream, everybody has a dream,” he sings passionately. The dream is to bring about a positive transformation, to make things good once more.

The singer’s dream is rooted in a belief that change is possible, that there is a better way to live, away from the constraints of Tobacco Road. The song delves into the core of human emotions, exploring the desire to create a better world and the struggles that come with it.

In the final part of the song, we return to the raw power of “Tobacco Road.” The lyrics remind us of the filth and squalor, using vivid imagery to depict the grim reality. It’s a call to action, a plea for change, a desire to tear down and rebuild Tobacco Road into something beautiful.

War’s rendition of “Tobacco Road” is a true masterpiece. The blend of rock, psychedelic, jazz fusion, blues, funk, and Latin influences creates a sonically captivating experience. The lyrics, accompanied by the soulful vocals of Eric Burdon, evoke a myriad of emotions that stay with you long after the song ends.

Listening to “Tobacco Road” is a powerful experience that speaks to the universal human longing for change, growth, and the pursuit of a better future. It reminds us that even in the face of adversity, there is hope, and that through determination and love, we can transform our surroundings.

The song’s profound message still resonates today, urging us to reflect on our own lives and the environments we inhabit. It compels us to take a step back, examine our circumstances, and ask ourselves how we can contribute to positive change.

In conclusion, “Tobacco Road” by War is so much more than a song. It’s a journey through the hardships of life, the dream for a better future, and the call to action for change. It stands as a testament to the power of music in uniting people, inspiring movements, and igniting the flame of hope within us all.


Featuring Eric Burdon

Produced By Jerry Goldstein

Written By John D. Loudermilk, B. B. Dickerson, Lonnie Jordan, Charles Miller, Lee Oskar, Howard Scott, Harold Brown & Papa Dee Allen

Recorded At Wally Heider Studios, San Francisco, California, USA, Jan 2-4,1970

Release Date April 1970

Tobacco Road: Tobacco Road / I Have a Dream / Tobacco Road Is A Cover Of Tobacco Road by John D. Loudermilk


Rock, Psychedelic, Jazz Fusion, Blues, Funk, Latin Music

I urge you to listen to “Tobacco Road” with fresh ears, to immerse yourself in the poignant lyrics, and to be moved by the powerful message it carries. Let it remind you of the capacity we all possess to create change, and to never underestimate the transformative power of a dream.

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