The 10 most memorable Vietnam War songs

Doug Bradley and Craig Werner literally wrote the book on the music of the Vietnam War. Really.

In “We Gotta Get Out of This Place: The Soundtrack of the Vietnam War,” Werner recalls his tour in Vietnam and the music made memorable by the experience.

Doug Bradley Craig Werner We Gotta Get Out of this Place

Doug Bradley (left) and Craig Werner (right)

Bradley arrived in country on Veteran’s Day, 1970 and would spend exactly 365 days there. He and Werner, a professor at the University of Wisconsin, interviewed hundreds of Bradley’s fellow veterans to find out which songs impacted them most during their time in Vietnam — and stayed with them after.

While many of the vets were tight-lipped with their combat experiences, they were very forthcoming about their musical recollections. Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’,” “My Girl” by the Temptations, Blood Sweat and Tears’ “And When I Die,” “Ring of Fire” by Johnny Cash, and, for Bradley himself, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles’ “Tears of a Clown.”

The authors compiled the Vietnam generation of veterans’ favorite songs into a reflection of how the music affected the troops who fought there and how it affects them to this day.

As a sort of preview for the book, Bradley and Werner recalled the ten songs that Vietnam veterans mentioned most in his interviews.

Here they are, presented on vinyl, wherever there was a vinyl version available.

10. “Green Green Grass of Home” by Porter Wagoner

9. “Chain of Fools” by Aretha Franklin

8. “The Letter” by the Box Tops

7. “(Sittin’ On) the Dock of the Bay” by Otis Redding

6. “Fortunate Son” by Creedence Clearwater Revival

5. “Purple Haze” by Jimi Hendrix

4. “Detroit City” by Bobby Bare

3. “Leaving On A Jet Plane” by Peter, Paul and Mary

2. “I Feel Like I’m Fixin to Die” by Country Joe & The Fish

1. “We Gotta Get Out Of This Place” by the Animals


We gathered the songs for you into one playlist — let us know where they take you:

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