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Music and the Vietnam War:


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Presentation for Communications in a Global Age course Fall 2009

Presentation for Communications in a Global Age course Fall 2009

Published in: Entertainment & Humor

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  • Music was America’s domestic battleground, where songwriters, politicians, and society openly struggled over American intervention in Southeast Asia
  • Greater public awareness of situation going on
  • Escalation in violenceAmerican forces evacuated from South Vietnam under Vietnamization (Laux, 2007).1965- Fall of Saigon to North Vietnam ended the war
  • Represented the Silent Majority- supported Vietnam tacticsAttacked the counterculture movementConservative movementOkie- 1969Fightin- 1970Berets- 1966
  • Fortunate- 1969I Feel- 1965Against traditional American attitudes and valuesExpresseddoubt over troopsPolitically motivated tunes opposing the draft emergedJohn Lennon-”Give Peace a Chance”Phil Ochs’- “Draft Dodger Rag”“We Gotta Get Out of This Place” –The Animals… Considered by vets to be their anthem of the Vietnam War (Perone, 2001)Increasing numbers of student protests on college campusesOhio– banned on several AM stations but heard on airwaves of FM underground (Perone, 2001)- 4 student protestors shot dead (Perone, 2001)
  • History often repeats itself and is shaped by the mediaStill relevant today… themes can be adopted into modern musicRevolutionized American music foreverComparisons have been made to the war in IraqBorn in the USA- 1984What’s Going On- 1971
  • Transcript

    • 1. Music and the Vietnam War:The Impact on Popular Culture
      Gretchen Cundiff
    • 2.
      Johnny Cash
      “The only good thing that has ever come out of a war was a song”
    • 3. Wartime Music
      Challenged social norms
      Set the framework for artistic expression
      Influence still resonates today
      Medium of communication
      Used voices as a means of persuasion (Perone, 2001)
    • 4. History & Music 1965-1975
      Foreign policy goals of Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon administrations
      Initially, sixty percent of the American public supported LBJ’s policy of military escalation in Vietnam during 1964 (Anderson, 1986)
      Protest demonstrations triggered debate
      Record sales tripled during this decade (Anderson, 1986)
    • 5. Views on War
      Public opinion shifted drastically between 1967 to 1970 with themes of discontent, angst, and bitterness emerging in popular music lyrics (Laux, 2007)
      War advocates spread optimistic message in music
      Nation split into left-wing “anti-war” or right-wing “pro-war” sides (Perone, 2001)
      Nixon’s strategy for an “honorable” end to the war failed
    • 6. Evolution of Music
      Jazz & rock n’ roll  country and rock
      Popular music expressed public divide over war
      Pro-war= country & easy-listening
      Anti-war= rock & folk
      Both intertwined political messages
      Supported the troops or incited protests and rallies
      Served as an effective form of wartime propaganda “to communicate both political and social messages” (Graham, 2003)
    • 7. Pro-War Music
      Songs promoted duty and patriotism (Perone, 2001)
      Merle Haggard- “Okie from Muskogee” and “The Fightin’ Side of Me”
      The top song requested and played on the radio during war years was singer Barry Sadler’s “The Ballad of the Green Berets” (Anderson, 1986)
      Holds the title as the most popular war song ever produced with over 9 million singles sold to date
    • 8. Anti-War Music
      Resurgence of folk music with Peter, Paul, and Mary & Bob Dylan (Rikard, 2005)
      Creedence Clearwater Revival- “Fortunate Son”
      Music artists of the late 1960s “witnessed more protest songs on the top 100 charts than any other time in the history of rock music” (Anderson, 1986)
      Country Joe and the Fish – “The I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin’-to-Die-Rag”
      Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young composed “Ohio” in response to Kent State shootings on May 4, 1970
    • 9. Impact of War & Music
      1st amendment ideals- freedom of speech
      Progression in society by “exerting deep and lasting influences on the form and content of popular music” (Rikard, 2005)
      Songs of that era span many generations
      Paved a path toward greater musical expression in times of conflict
      Author Michael Herr notes how “music melded with the war” and “became part of the Vietnam experience” (Rikard, 2005)
      Songs such as Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” and Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA” depict “age(s) of social unrest in America” (Laux, 2007)