When the War Is Over

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"When the War Is Over"
When the War Is Over.jpg
Single by Cold Chisel
from the album Circus Animals
Format7" vinyl
Songwriter(s)Steve Prestwich
Producer(s)Mark Opitz
Cold Chisel singles chronology
"Forever Now"
"When the War Is Over"
"Hold Me Tight" / "No Sense"
"When the War Is Over"
Single by Cosima
from the album Cosima
A-side"One Night Without You"
Released9 August 2004 (2004-08-09)
RecordedRealsongs Studio, Hollywood, California, 2004
GenrePop rock, hard rock
Songwriter(s)Steve Prestwich
Producer(s)Khris Kellow, Pete Stengaard
Cosima singles chronology
"When the War Is Over" / "One Night Without You"
"Now That You Can't Have Me"

"When the War Is Over" is a power ballad of Australian band Cold Chisel from their 1982 album Circus Animals. The song was written by drummer Steve Prestwich and issued as the third single from the album, peaking at #25 on the national singles chart,[1] and also resurfaced in August 2011 due to download sales (peaking at #82 on the ARIA chart).

Cold Chisel version[edit]

Like many of the songs from "Circus Animals" that were deliberately written to be as different in style as possible from those on the pop-laced East that had preceded it, "When the War is Over" has a distinctly odd structure. The chorus is repeated at the beginning and end of the song, with the verses in the middle. It also deviates from traditional songwriting by featuring the instrumental break and guitar solo between the first and second verse, instead of the more usual arrangement between the second and third. Guitarist Ian Moss sings lead vocal on the first two verses, with the band's regular lead vocalist Jimmy Barnes singing the third, which rises to a crescendo before returning to the quiet, melodic refrain from the beginning of the song, underlined by more soloing from Moss. Despite this unusual arrangement, "When the War is Over" has become one of Cold Chisel's most popular songs and the one that has been covered by more artists than any other. At least five other versions of the song have been recorded, one of which attained #1 on the Australian music chart.

Author Prestwich said, "I got the first verse of melody and lyric quite spontaneously, and that, coupled with the verse guitar melody, brought it all together. However, I had to write the middle eight in the studio just prior to it being recorded." [2]

Moss described the song as, "a pretty fine example of Steve's songwriting. It all seems fairly straight ahead and easy when you hear it, like all good things are. It's so simple, but so effective." Don Walker said, "I didn't see the potential in it at the time. I thought, 'another ballad.' Since then, I know from the reaction when we play it live, this is one of the most loved songs that we did."[3]

Cosima De Vito's version[edit]

Former Australian Idol contestant Cosima De Vito released a version of the song as a double A-side with the track "One Night Without You" in August 2004. She had previously performed the song on the Australian Made episode of the program.

De Vito's version presented an acoustic-guitar and string driven theme as opposed to the strong guitar and drums of the original. It received very limited airplay on mainstream radio stations. Despite this, it managed to become the first independently recorded and released single to debut at #1 on the ARIA Singles Chart and was also the best selling independent Australian single for 2004. The release stayed in the Top 5 for over a month and was certified platinum for shipments of over 70,000 units.

Track listing[edit]

Cosima CD single
  1. "When the War Is Over"
  2. "One Night Without You"
  3. "When the War Is Over" (acoustic version)
  4. "One Night Without You" (extended mix)

Other versions[edit]

"When the War is Over" appears on No Reins, the 1986 album by Little River Band, featuring Prestwich on drums and John Farnham on vocals. This version featured as the theme song to the Australian mini-series Sword of Honour.[4] Farnham recorded the track a second time as a bonus for the re-release of his 1988 album Age of Reason.

British hard rock band Uriah Heep recorded a version of the song for their seventeenth studio album Raging Silence.

Something for Kate covered "When the War is Over" on the 2007 tribute album Standing on the Outside: The Songs of Cold Chisel.

John Schumann and the Vagabond Crew covered the song on their 2008 album Behind the Lines.[5]


Chart (1982) 1 Peak
Australian ARIA Singles Chart 25
Chart (2004) ² Peak
Australian ARIA Singles Chart 1
  • 1 Cold Chisel.
  • 2 Cosima de Vito.


  1. ^ David Kent (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970-1992. St Ives, New South Wales: Australian Chart Book. p. 72. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  2. ^ Michael Lawrence (2012). Cold Chisel: Wild Colonial Boys. Melbourne, Victoria: Melbourne Books. p. 331. ISBN 9781877096174.
  3. ^ Mark Opitz; Luke Wallis; Jeff Jensen (2012). Sophisto-Punk. North Sydney: Ebury Press. p. 107. ISBN 9781742757933.
  4. ^ Warren Arthur Bebbington (1997). The Oxford companion to Australian music. Oxford University Press. p. 346. ISBN 9780195534320.
  5. ^ John Schumann official website Behind the Lines information

External links[edit]