Part Music of the Vietnam War Era



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Music of the Vietnam War Era
This has been, and is, a highly successful unit for me in involving students in the study of the war. Listening to music does not seem like school work! I think it can be a significant research experience.
I include some important reference material for the teacher and some of the basic material for teaching the lesson. The teacher will need to get the recordings of the songs to play for the students. The lyrics will help them understand what is being said and sung. The questions and the worksheet will hopefully help them develop an analysis of the music. Encourage students to bring in their own songs from the period with the lyrics.
Annotated Bibliography for Teaching the Music of the Vietnam War
Books:

Primary:
Dane, Barbara and Irwin Silber, editors. The Vietnam Songbook. New York: The

Guardian/ Monthly Review, 1969. Collection of lyrics.


Dylan, Bob. Writings and Drawings. New York: Knopf, 1973. Collected lyrics.
Goldstein, Richard, editor. The Poetry of Rock. New York: Bantam Books, 1969. Great collection of song lyrics.
Griffen, William L. and John Marciano. Teaching the Vietnam War. Montclair,

New Jersey, Allanheld, Osmun & Company, 1979.

This book is now out of print, but it remains an excellent critique of how

the textbooks handled the Vietnam War. Focuses on the Pentagon Papers. It is an excellent background book for any thoughtful teacher.


Okun, Milton, editor. Great Songs of the Sixties. Chicago: Quadrangle, 1970. Lyrics of all kinds of 1960’s music.
Raim, Ethel and Irwin Silber, editors. The Bells of Rhymney and Other Songs

and Stories from the singing of Pete Seeger. New York: Oak Publications,

1964. Pete Seeger’s lyrics.


Secondary:
Andressen, Lee. Battle Notes: Music of the Vietnam War, 2nd edition. Superior,Wisconsin: Savage Press, 2003. Uneven, and at times chaotic, but covers the entire spectrum.
Franklin, H. Bruce, editor. The Vietnam War: In American Stories, Songs and Poems. Boston: Bedford Books, 1996. A literary history. Weak on the music. Worth a read.
Miller, Jim, editor. The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock and Roll.

New York: Rolling Stone Press/ Random House, 1980. Great for context.


Pareles, Jon and Patricia Romanowski, editors. The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia

of Rock and Roll. New York: Rolling Stone Press/ Summit Books, 1983. Important source for all the music of the genre.
Rowe, John Carlos and Rick Berg, editors. The Vietnam War and American Culture. New York: Columbia, 1991. An excellent collection of essays on American culture, music, film and mass media and popular history. Highly recommended.

Periodicals and Journals:
"Studying U.S. History Through Songs" Social Education. (Volume 49,

Number 7) October, 1985. Great ideas for incorporating music into history class.


See: B. Lee Cooper's "Mick Jagger as Herodotus and Billy Joel as

Thucydides?" pp. 596 - 600 and George W. Chilcoat's "The Images of

Vietnam: A Popular Music Approach" pp. 601 - 603.
Cooper, B. Lee. "Social Concerns, Political Protest, and Popular Music" The

Social Studies. (Volume 79, Number 2) March/April, 1988. pp. 53 - 60. Invaluable suggestions.
Natoli, Salvatore J., editor. "Teaching the Vietnam War" Social Education.

(Volume 52, Number 1) January, 1988.

The entire issue is devoted to the teaching of the Vietnam War. Worthwhile.

Music for the study of the Vietnam War

collected by John J. Fitzgerald
Questions:
General Questions for all of the songs:
Who is the singer (speaker)?

5 W's who, what, when, where, etc.

Who is the speaker addressing? potential audience

What is the speaker's point of view?

What is his or her attitude toward war and/or the Vietnam War?

Is there logic in the person's presentation?

Do you agree or disagree with the values expressed?

What degree of patriotism, if any, do you find present?

What degree of humanitarianism/pacifism do you find present?

Rank the eight (8) songs from left to right on the political spectrum.

Left is most radical/most anti-war.

Right is most conservative/most pro-war. Defend your ranking selections.

Which songs reflect realism? Cynicism? Pessimism? Paranoid delusion?

Which songs reflect idealism? Fantasy? Optimism? Strength?

Specific questions:
Song #1 Which group is being attacked? Who is being defended? Is this an anti-war song?
Song #2 In what way is this song different from #1? Logical?
Song #3 What values besides militarism are present in this song?
Song #4 This is very strong rhetoric. Is it effective? Does it turn you off?
Song #5 This song reflects the 1940's. What values of the 1960's does it embody?
Song #6 This song reflects the 1980's. What values of the 1960's does it embody?
Song #7 Does this song reflect a quest for peace or a quest for justice?
Song # 8 What ideology is inherent in this song? More than one ideology?

Music for the study of the Vietnam War
These lyrics are provided as a guide to the recorded songs. I encourage teachers to purchase the tapes, compact disks, etc. I offer the lyrics so that the students can clearly hear what was being said and sung. Some copyright issues remain, no doubt. I do not think this violates any reasonable copyright claims.
"I'm an Okie from Muskogee"
Merle Haggard
We don't smoke marijuana in Muskogee.

We don't take our trips on LSD.

We don't burn our draft cards down on Main Street.

We like living right and being free.


We don't make a party out of loving.

We like holding hands and pitching woo.

We don't let our hair grow long and shaggy,

Like the hippies out in San Francisco do.


I'm proud to be an Okie from Muskogee,

a place where even squares can have a ball.

We still wave "Old Glory" down at the Court House,

and white lightning's still the biggest thrill of all.


Leather boots are still in style for manly footwear.

Beads and Roman sandals won't be seen.

Football's still the roughest thing on campus,

and the kids here still respect the college dean.


I'm proud to be an Okie from Muskogee,

a place where even squares can have a ball.

We still wave "Old Glory" down at the Court House,

and white lightning's still the biggest thrill of all.


We still wave "Old Glory" down at the Court House,

in Muskogee, Oklahoma, USA.


copyright © by Roy Burris and Merle Haggard

published by Shade Tree Music/ BMI 1972 Capitol Records


"The Fighting Side of Me"
Merle Haggard
I hear people talking bad about the way

they have to live here in this country.

Harping on the wars they fight and

griping about the ways things ought to be.

I don't mind them switching sides and

standing up for things they believe in.

When they're running down our country, man,

they are walking on the fighting side of me.


CHORUS:

They're walking on the fighting side of me.

Running down our way of life our fighting men

have fought and died to keep.

If you don't love it - leave it,

let this song that I am singing be a warning.

When you are running down our country, hoss,

then you are walking on the fighting side of me.


I read about some squirrely guy who claims

that he just don't believe in fighting

and I wonder just how long the rest of us

can count on being free.

They love our milk and honey,

but they preach about some other way of living.

When they are running down our country,

man, they're walking on the fighting side of me.


They're walking on the fighting side of me.

Running down our way of life our fighting men

have fought and died to keep.

If you don't love it - leave it!

Let this song that I am singing be a warning.

When you're running down our country, man -

you're walking on the fighting side of me.
Chorus-repeat
copyright © by Merle Haggard

published by Blue Book Music/ BMI 1972 Capitol Records



"The Ballad of the Green Berets"
SSgt. Barry Sadler, U.S. Army
Fighting soldiers from the sky,

fearless men who jump and die.

Men who mean just what they say,

the brave men of the Green Beret.


Silver wings upon their chest,

these are men, America's best.

One hundred men, we'll test today,

but only three, win the Green Beret.


Trained to live off Nature's land,

trained in combat - hand to hand.

Men who fight by night and day,

courage take, from the Green Beret.


Chorus:

Silver wings upon their chest,

these are men, America's best.

One hundred men, we'll test today,

but only three, win the Green Beret.
Back at home a young wife waits,

her Green Beret has met his fate.

He has died for those oppressed,

leaving her this last request.


"Put silver wings on my son's chest,

make him one of America's best.

He'll be a man they test one day.

Have him win, the Green Beret."


copyright © by SSgt. Barry Sadler/ ASCAP

1966 Radio Corporation of America

RCA Victor Records


"Fish Cheer & I-FEEL-LIKE-I'M-FIXING-TO-DIE RAG"
Joe McDonald

Country Joe and the Fish


Give me an F! F!

Give me an I! I! (At Woodstock, 1969 it was F-U-C-K)

Give me an S! S!

Give me an H! H!


What's that spell? Fish!

repeat


repeat
Yeah!
Come on all you big strong men,

Uncle Sam needs your help again.

He's got himself in a terrible jam,

way down yonder in Vietnam.

So put down your books and pick up a gun,

We're gonna have a whole lot of fun.


Chorus:

And it's 1, 2, 3. What are we fighting for?

Don't ask me. I don't give a damn.

Next stop is Vietnam.

And it's 5, 6, 7. Open up the Pearly Gates!

Why it ain't no time to wonder why.

Whoopee, we're all going to die.
Well come on generals let's move fast,

Your big chance has come at last.

We gotta go out and get those Reds;

The only good Commie is the one that's dead.

And you know that peace can only be won,

When you blow them all to Kingdom come.

Chorus: repeat
Well come on Wall Street don't move slow,

Why man this war's a go go.

There's plenty good money to be made,

By supplying the army with the tools of the trade.

Don't be afraid they'll drop The Bomb.

They'll drop it on the Viet Cong!


Chorus:

And it's 1, 2, 3. What are we fighting for?

Don't ask me. I don't give a damn.

Next stop is Vietnam.

And it's 5, 6, 7. Open up the Pearly Gates!

Why it ain't no time to wonder why.

Whoopee, we're all going to die.
Well come on mothers throughout the land,

Pack your boys off to Vietnam.

Come on fathers don't hesitate,

Send them off before it's too late.

Be the first one on your block,

To have your boy come home in a box.


Chorus: repeat
copyright © by Joe McDonald

published by Joyful Wisdom/ Tradition Music, BMI

1969 Vanguard Recording Society

"This Land is Your Land"
Woody Guthrie
This Land is your land.

This Land is my land.

From California,

to the New York islands,

From the redwood forests,

to the Gulf Stream waters,

This Land was made for you and me.
As I went walking that ribbon of highway,

I saw above me the endless skyway.

I saw below me that golden valley.

This Land was made for you and me.


Chorus: This Land is your land, etc.
I roamed and rambled,

And I followed my footsteps.

To the sparkling sands of the diamond deserts,

And all around me a voice was sounding,

This land was made for you and me.
This Land is your land.

This Land is my land.

From California,

to the New York islands,

From the redwood forests,

to the Gulf Stream waters,

This Land was made for you and me.
copyright © Woody Guthrie/BMI
Cf. Guthrie, Woody. The Woody Guthrie Songbook. New York: Woody Guthrie Publications, 1976.

also, Hampton, Wayne. Guerrilla Minstrels. Knoxville, Tennessee: The University of Tennessee Press, 1986.




"Born in the U.S.A."
Bruce Springsteen
Born down in a dead man's town

The first kick I took was when I hit the ground

You end up like a dog that's been beat too much

Till you spend half your life just covering up


Born in the U.S.A.

I was born in the U.S.A.

I was born in the U.S.A.

Born in the U.S.A.


Got in a little hometown jam

so they put a rifle in my hand

Sent me off to a foreign land

to go and kill the yellow man


Born in the U.S.A., etc.
Come back home to the refinery

Hiring man says "son if it was up to me"

Went down to see my V.A. man

He said "son don't you understand now"


Had a brother at Khe Sahn

fighting off the Viet Cong

They're still there

he's all gone

He had a woman he loved in Saigon

I got a picture of him in her arms now


Down in the shadow of the penitentiary

Out by the gas fires of the refinery

I'm ten years burning down the road

Nowhere to run ain't got nowhere to go


Born in the U.S.A., etc.
Words and music copyright © 1984 Bruce Springsteen (ASCAP)

"Blowin' in the Wind"
Bob Dylan
How many roads must a man walk down

Before you call him a man?

Yes, 'n' how many seas must a white dove sail

Before she sleeps in the sand?

Yes, 'n' how many times must the cannon balls fly

Before they're forever banned?

The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind,

The answer is blowin' in the wind.


How many times must a man look up

Before he can see the sky?

Yes, 'n' how many ears must one man have

Before he can hear people cry?

Yes, 'n' how many deaths will it take till he knows

That too many people have died?

The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind,

The answer is blowin' in the wind.


How many years can a mountain exist

Before it's washed to the sea?

Yes, 'n' how many years can some people exist

Before they're allowed to be free?

Yes, 'n' how many times can a man turn his head,

Pretending he just doesn't see?

The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind,

The answer is blowin' in the wind.


Words and music copyright © 1962 M. Witmark & Sons

Cf. Dylan, Bob. Writings and Drawings. New York: Knopf, 1973.




"imagine"
John Lennon
imagine there's no heaven

it's easy if you try

no hell below us

above us only sky

imagine all the people

living for today...


imagine there's no countries

itisn't hard to do

nothing to kill or die for

and no religion too

imagine all the people

living life in peace...


imagine no possessions

i wonder if you can

no need for greed or hunger a brotherhood of man

imagine all the people

sharing all the world...
you may say i'm a dreamer

but i'm not the only one

i hope someday you'll join us

and the world will be as one


copyright © 1968 Maclen (Music) Ltd., (U.K.) BMI

John Lennon Apple Records SW 3372


Analysis of Vietnam Era Music
After listening to the song and examining the written lyrics, you should be able to make some intelligent comments about it. You are encouraged to use your own ideas, but you might find the following suggestions to be helpful. Use the numbers as a form of short-hand and write them into the grid that follows below.

1. Patriotic song.

2. Anti - war song.

3. Pro - war song.

4. Social commentary. Approval of Disapproval of

5. Strongly sarcastic.

6. Tragic.

7. Pathetic.

8. Self - pitying.

9. Funny.

10. Sad.

11. Enraging and provocative.

12. Un - American, if not anti - American.

13. Pro - Viet Cong.

14. Anti - Viet Cong.

15. Pro - soldier.

16. Protest song.

17. Support our boys!

18. America - Love it or leave it!

19. Intelligent and witty.

20. Stupid drivel.

21. Sophisticated and knowledgeable.

22. Ignorant of history.

23. Aimed at criticism of government not soldiers.

24. Strongly philosophical.

25. Utopian.

26. Unrealistic.

27. Idealistic.

28. Cynical.

29. Pessimistic.



30. Fatalistic.
Worksheet for Music of Vietnam Era – First impressions/reflections


Song Title &

Singer

Content

Theme(s)

Realism/

Idealism/

Sexism/ Racism

1










2











3











4











5











6











7











8













Our Bi-partisan Foreign Policy – David Levine – The New York Review of Books

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