Music of the Vietnam War

Watch and Listen to clips of songs you selected (using YouTube or other sources) and be sure to include
these clips in your works cited list.
Write an essay using the information and details you gathered from your research above to answer the
following questions.
How did the artists and/or groups of this era use the lyrics of the song to educate, inspire, influence, or
provide social commentary on the War in Vietnam? Where do you specifically see this in the lyrics? How
do you think artists and songs from this era gave a voice to Americans who could not vote on political
issues at the time?

Music of the Vietnam War

The music industry has, through time, been utilized to convey various messages and feelings about specific topics. Most often, it is used to entertain music can be beneficial to society. American soldiers as well as citizens in their homes used songs throughout the conflict to express and calm their feelings. American soldiers fighting in the war had access to music mostly via the Armed Forces Radio, operated by the United States Department of Armed Forces. However, the department was not allowed to play all music that appeared to be a protest against war, and this was the case with popular music, since most songs about the war argued against it. In the words of Leepson (2017) One of the songs that was allowed to be played could be “The The Ballad Of Green Berets” since its lyrics urged soldiers to show courage.

“Talking Vietnam Blues” by Phil Ochs

The anti-Vietnam protest songs were mostly composed by folk singers who were subject to violent reaction to their participation within the Civil rights movement during the latter half of the fifties and the early sixties. One of the very first anti-Vietnam tunes made public was “Talking Vietnam Blues” by Phil Ochs in April 1964 (Auslander 1981). The song was distinct than the songs released prior to it as it explicitly included Vietnam. Phil Ochs was an American Folk artist who gained fame for his songs of protest written by him in the 1960s regarding the Vietnam conflict and Civil Rights movements (Auslander 1981). He was the son of a physician recruited into the army to provide medical treatment to American soldiers who were wounded during The Battle of the Bulge.

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