Music of the Vietnam Era Essay

Music of the Vietnam Era
The use of music to convey social commentary was certainly not unique to the Vietnam War. However, what made the music so significant was its versatility. It quickly captured and reflected public opinion as it developed, and offered expression regardless of race, gender, status or political orientation. As a result, there was no one song that captured the essence of the Vietnam War.
Words about war have been put to music for generations, but usually in a positive manner. World War I’s “Over There” and “I’m a Yankee Doodle Dandy” seemed to characterize the prevailing mood about America’s role in that struggle. “I Didn’t Raise My Boy to be a Soldier” also had an audience, but a smaller one by comparison. World…show more content…
The song peaked at number 21 on Billboard’s chart, but still managed to put the issue of war squarely in front of the American public.
By 1965, music about Vietnam was emerging as a genre of its own, even though it was still competing with music denouncing war in general. The previous year, Lyndon Johnson had won election as president by promising “not to send American boys to fight a war Asian boys ought to be fighting.” In March 1965, U.S. combat troops began arriving in Vietnam, the first installment of nearly 200,000 American soldiers destined for deployment that year. The gap between words and deeds was not lost on folk singer Tom Paxton, whose ballad “Lyndon Johnson Told a Nation” zeroed in on Johnson’s apparent hypocrisy. It shared air play with Barry McGuire’s “Eve of Destruction,” which touched not only on the danger of nuclear war, but also on the irony of young men old enough to fight but too young to vote. The first major anti-war demonstrations were also held in 1965, organized by groups such as the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and choreographed by singer-songwriters such as Phil Ochs. “I Ain’t Marching Anymore,” a general antiwar commentary, was quickly followed by “White Boots Marching in a Yellow Land” and “We Seek No Wider War,” a response to President Johnson’s assurance of his desire for world peace, while at the same time escalating the war in Vietnam.
None of Ochs’s songs ever reach Billboard’s Top 100. Most pop music radio

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