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.
Before Linda Perry became the frontwoman for the 90s rock group 4 Non Blondes, she was homeless and living on the streets of San Diego. That, of course, all changed when she moved to San Francisco and began her music career. Though 4 Non Blondes was short-lived, Perry’s career in music continued.
“I left my band because I felt like that wasn’t the destination for me,” Perry says. “I wanted to write songs and produce music so, that’s what I’ve done for past 15 or 16 years. Now, I have a label and publishing company, and I manage acts as well.”
So when director and humanitarian Lysa Heslov asked Perry to write a song for her documentary “Served Like A Girl,” the inclination was natural.
“Served Like A Girl” follows five female veterans as they train to compete in the Ms. Veteran America competition. The competition benefits women veterans, many with children, who are in danger of slipping into poverty and homelessness after their service ends.
The women featured in the film go through many trials and tribulations as they transition and it becomes easy to see just how possible it is for a woman to be a Master Sergeant one week and living on the streets the next.
When Linda Perry saw the film, she was blown away.
“I had no idea,” she says. “You’d be surprised. People don’t know about this situation. Women are serving and coming home to double standards, not getting benefits, and are homeless after serving their country. There’s nothing there to support them.”
Perry wrote “Dancing Through The Wreckage” as an anthem for the women and for the film, teaming up with rock legend Pat Benatar, who did the vocals on the track. The two were working together on a song (“Shine”) for the 2017 Women’s March when the idea came to Perry.
“The song just kind of showed up,” Perry recalls. “I’m going, ‘Holy f*ck, I’ve got the holy grail of women empowerment in my f*cking studio right now.’ I showed Pat the trailer and then played her what I started and we just jumped in. Her husband Neil Giraldo jumped in and we wrote the song for the movie.”
Linda Perry’s involvement in the film isn’t limited to its signature song. Perry was also a producer on the film. The song is woven throughout the film’s emotional moments.
“‘Dancing Through the Wreckage’ is such a great visual,” Perry says. “I kind of feel like that really summed up, for me, the feeling of what I was watching. It’s like they’re dancing through all this bullshit, and they’re getting through it, so it’s a Hallelujah moment at the same time.”
The song serves to highlight the joint effort needed to address the underlying issue depicted in the film. Women veterans are the fastest-growing homeless population in America. There are now an estimated 55,000 homeless female veterans on the streets of the United States.
“That’s what’s so powerful about this film,” Perry says. “Through Lisa’s passion and through these beautiful stories these women allowed Lisa to share, the word is getting out there.”
“Served Like a Girl” is in theaters in Los Angeles and New York. It will open in other areas soon.
To learn more about the Ms. Veteran America Competition or donate to fight female veteran homelessness, visit their website.
In December 2003, Michael Trotter, Jr. was a soldier stationed in Baghdad, Iraq. His unit was camped out in one of Saddam Hussein’s bombed-out palaces when his commanding officer discovered a piano and suggested Trotter, who enjoyed singing, check it out.
“You had to crawl over soot and rut and rock and rubble from the war to get to this piano; it was like one of those dramatic movie scenes,” Trotter told Real Clear Life.
“Dear Martha” is about the letters written between loved ones divided by war. Trotter recorded the song with his wife, Tanya Blount, as part of their musical duo, The War and Treaty, which explores the concept of creating music out of darkness and despair to find peace, tranquility, and a higher purpose.
While this video doesn’t include any visuals, you can hear their tranquil notes and haunting harmonies by clicking play below — and you really, really should:
Christmas can be a special time of the year, but for those troops who have deployed, it’s a very bittersweet time. Their families also have those same bittersweet feelings. The reason why is obvious: During a holiday where families gather, the military stands watch. Whether deployed overseas or stationed far from home, military members are often separated from their families during the holidays.
Grammy nominees John Ondrasik, who goes by the stage name Five for Fighting, and pianist Jim Brickman teamed up to write a Christmas song for the troops after witnessing troops and their families feel those raw emotions. The two singers had been involved with Operation Care Package and the USO, and the product of their collaboration is “Christmas Where You Are,” which is available on iTunes.
“The holidays can be an especially hard time for our troops and their families,” Ondrasik and Brickman said in a release, “‘Christmas Where You Are’ is a thank you and reminder to soldiers that we are with them in heart and spirit, wherever they stand, in service and sacrifice to our nation. We hope that no matter where these brave men and women are stationed, the warmth and love of family transcends the miles. We want them to know that a grateful nation holds them close to our hearts.”
Grammy nominee Ondrasik, a philanthropist and singer-songwriter, has sold over three million records. He has released six albums. Brickman, a two-time Grammy nominee and Dove Award winner, has 21 Number One albums. “Christmas Where You Are” will also be featured on Brickman’s latest album, A Joyful Christmas, which is dropping on Nov. 10.
Grammy nominees John Ondrasik of Five for Fighting (right) and Jim Brickman. (Photo by Duston Todd/BYU TV)
Some of the proceeds of the song will go to the Gary Sinise Foundation, as well as What Kind Of World Do You Want, an initiative Ondrasik created which helps raise funds for Augie’s Quest, Autism Speaks, Fisher House Foundation, Save the Children and Operation Homefront.
Modern music has done much in the way of impacting how society views many topics. From protest songs to historical accounts, artists have written their share of songs about war and the military.
I’m not quite breaking new ground with this list, but I thought it would be interesting to examine some of my favorite songs that deal with the subject of war and military life. You may know some of them, you may not know some of them.
10. The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down – The Band
Released on The Band’s self-titled second album, The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down recounts the waning days of the American Civil War through the eyes of a poor, white southerner named Virgil Caine. The song, which was written by Robbie Robertson and Levon Helm, is commonly included in lists of the greatest songs of all-time. Covered by bands such as The Black Crowes and The Allman Brothers Band, The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down is an unhindered vision into the roots and culture of Americana music.
Written by David Crosby shortly before his dismissal from The Byrds, Draft Morning recalls the experiences of a young American man on the day he was drafted into the Vietnam war and throughout his service. Crosby was actually fired from The Byrds prior to the song being finished, but Roger McGuinn and Chris Hillman re-worked the song and gave themselves writing credits. Draft Morning is one of my favorite Byrds songs, as it has their iconic, melodic sound.
The General tells of an old, battle-worn General who, after years of battlefield success, urges his men to look for more in life than war. The song depicts a hard-to-grasp aspect of the American Civil War, or any civil war for that matter, which is the idea of a faction of people of the same nationality, separated by belief, waging war on one another. The General remains one of the most beloved songs in the Dispatch catalog by their devoutly loyal fan base.
Written by bassist Steve Harris, The Trooper is based on the Charge of the Light Brigade at the battle of Balaclava during the Crimean War in 1854. A famous poem of the same name was written by Lord Tennyson. The Trooper appeared on Maiden’s 1983 masterpiece Piece of Mind and remains a staple in their live repertoire.
In typical Dylan fashion, he held no punches when it came to voicing his opinion about the government. Dylan has explained that Masters of War is not an anti-war song, but it is rather anti-corruption. It stands out as one of the harshest songs of criticism in his catalog, which is saying something for a man who has forever etched his name in the stone of confrontational art.
Above is Eddie Vedder performing Masters of War with Mike McCready and G.E. Smith at the legendary Bob Dylan 30th Anniversary concert at Madison Square Garden.
Isbell’s Tour of Duty is written through the eyes of a man returning from military service to find a life filled with simple pleasures, yet not quite the same as it was before. It is an honest, sometimes content and forward thinking account of man trying to transition into civilian life. Isbell has made his mark as one of the finest songwriters of the last twenty years, and Tour of Duty is a genuine example of his mastery of Americana music.
Clocking in at more than seven minutes long, Us and Them stands as one of the pillars of Pink Floyd’s legendary 1973 album Dark Side of the Moon. As much of the album does, Us and Them examines the themes of maturity, the passing of time and conflict. Roger Waters specifically questions whether human beings are capable of being humane, and asks whether two sides of a conflict are truly too far apart. Waters’ father was killed during World War II, and he has used the theme of war as a vehicle to examine human behavior on many occasions.
As Dylan did with Masters of War, Black Sabbath commented on the idea of somebody using war for their own personal gain and the evil that can come from this. At first it was believed to have been an anti-Vietnam War song due to the time period in which it was written, but the group dispelled that notion. It is regarded by many, including myself, as the greatest heavy metal song of all-time. War Pigs is the lead song on Sabbath’s legendary 1970 album, Paranoid, and was a stalwart of their live shows.
Colin Meloy of The Decemberists explained Dear Avery as being written through the eyes of a mother whose son is off at war. It is presented in the form of the mother’s letter to her son, Avery. She does not know his fate, nor his whereabouts. It stands as an emotional testament to the strength of parents whose children deploy. Dear Avery is the final song on The Decemberists celebrated 2011 album The King Is Dead.
Led Zeppelin, particularly Robert Plant, had a fierce infatuation with medieval war, and it was a topic for some of their most memorable songs. The Battle of Evermore, written by Plant and Jimmy Page, examines a Tolkien-esque story of dragons, castles, and magic, and is set to instrumentation that reminds of an old English folk tune. The song appears on Led Zeppelin’s landscape changing album Led Zeppelin IV.
No one seems to know who wrote the lyrics to the hymn, but they have shifted slightly over time to reflect the evolution of the Corps. In 1942, the final changes were made to reflect the addition of aviation to the Marine Corps mission. The first verse’s fourth line, “On the land as on the sea” became “In the air, on land, and sea.”
3. It specifically mentions battles from the 1800s
The opening line “From the Halls of Montezuma” refers to the capture of Mexico City and the Castle of Chapultepec in 1847 during the Mexican-American War.
4. The American flag was first flown in an overseas victory at Tripoli
“To the Shores of Tripoli” pays homage to the First Barbary War, when U.S Marines helped capture the Tripolitan city of Derna in modern day Libya in 1805. It was the first time Old Glory was raised in victory on foreign soil.
5. It’ll tell you everything you need to know about the Marines
The lyrics aptly reflect the spirit of the Corps, mentioning the “fight for right and freedom,” the importance of honor, and even a bit of branch rivalry: “If the Army and the Navy ever look on Heaven’s scenes; they will find the streets are guarded by United States Marines.”
Every Apple user is inevitably faced with the terms of service. The vast majority of us will start to think about reading them, realize we’re looking at a 56-page magnum opus of legalese and tiny print, and then just accept the fact that we’re going to click “yes” anyway. For the most part, there’s nothing out of the ordinary in there and it won’t affect your daily life — unless you’re a dictator thinking about hedging your bets on preventing an American invasion.
Deep inside those terms of service is a clause forbidding the user from using the program for “the development, design, manufacture, or production of nuclear, missile, or chemical or biological weapons.”
As if Kim Jong Un cares that much about retribution from Apple.
If anyone is asking how exactly one could use iTunes to create a nuclear weapon, that’s a very good question. If anyone actually answers that question with a plausible answer, the U.S. government should probably know that person’s whereabouts. And take away his or her Apple products.
If you’re really curious about the Apple EULA but don’t have a juris doctorate, you can listen to Richard Dreyfuss read parts of it on YouTube.
UPDATE: THE VOTING IS NOW CLOSED AND THE WINNER WILL BE ANNOUNCED ON MONDAY, SEPT. 25, 2017 AT WE ARE THE MIGHTY!
Welcome to the finals for Mission: Music, where veterans from all five branches compete for a chance to perform onstage at Base*FEST powered by USAA. CLICK THE BUTTON BELOW TO VOTE every day to determine the winner!
JP is a United States Marine with four combat deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. He is also a singer/songwriter, life documenter, spirited lover, and careful father.
As a teenager, he went to the funeral of his brother’s close friend where someone pulled out an acoustic guitar and played “What I Got” by Sublime. JP fell in love with the way music assisted in healing that day. He also had to say goodbye to friends and loved ones of his own, including his brother and sister. Music became a way for him to document life, writing about love and loss.
Currently, the JP Guhns team is based out of South Carolina. JP is determined to push his blend of southern rock and alternative country out to anyone on a “poor man’s budget and a dad’s schedule.”
He has two children, a wonderful wife, and a strong ambition for life.
For every vote, USAA will donate $1 (up to $10k) to Guitars for Vets, a non-profit organization that enhances lives of ailing and injured military veterans by providing them with guitars and a forum to learn how to play. Your votes help those who served rediscover their joy through the power of music!
We Are The Mighty sat down with Pink Floyd co-founder Roger Waters and Rage Against The Machine’s Tom Morello to chat about the ‘Music Heals’ concert that was held last week in DC to create awareness about MusiCorps — a program that uses the healing power of music to assist wounded vets with their rehabilitation.
And here’s the setlist from the amazing show held at DAV Constitution Hall on October 16:
And check out this video from the show of the band playing the Pink Floyd classic, “Comfortably Numb,” featuring wounded warrior and former Army captain Greg Galeazzi on lead guitar:
There are some jobs troops leaving the service are expected to go after, but world-class musician isn’t typically one of them. Still, these 13 veterans prove that it can be done.
1. Elvis Presley
It’s not like Elvis needs an introduction. He was drafted in December 1957 and reported for his induction in March 1958. He turned down offers to perform for the troops in lieu of traditional service. Instead, he became a tanker and served in West Germany.
The “King of Country” served in the U.S. Army from 1971 to 1975. While in the Army, he began playing with an Army-sponsored band, “Rambling Country.”
4. Toy Caldwell
A founding member of the Marshall Tucker Band, Toy Caldwell served in the U.S. Marine Corps in Vietnam. After he was injured by a land mine in 1967, he was shipped home and medically discharged.
He created the Toy Factory band which would later become the Marshall Tucker Band. They released 14 albums. Five went gold, and an additional two went platinum.
5. Craig Morgan
Craig Morgan, now a country music star, spent nearly a decade as a forward observer in the Army’s 101st Airborne Division and 82nd Airborne Division. He would serve another six and a half years in the Army Reserve.
The legendary Willie Nelson was once a lackluster airman. He was discharged after only nine months due to back problems. He maintains ties to the veteran community though, advocating for veteran issues and providing support to vet groups.
8. Maynard James Keenan
The frontman for Tool, Keenan spent three years in the Army, starting with a stint in the U.S. Military Academy Prep School. He turned down an appointment to West Point and instead completed an enlistment before going on to become a world-famous musician.
9. George Jones
George Jones was once the top name in country music. In 1951, two years before he was discovered, he was a newly enlisted Marine. Jones never served overseas though the country was at war with Korea. He was stationed in California where he played gigs during his off time. His country music career took off in 1953.
He was allowed out after a year when an ankle injury on a training jump gave the Army an excuse to let him go. Only a few years after his discharge, the Jimi Hendrix experience wowed London and launched Hendrix’s career.
12. James Otto
James Otto was the son of an Army drill sergeant, but he opted for the Navy when he enlisted. He credits his two-year term with giving him discipline and life experience to make it in Nashville. James Otto wrote the hit “In Color,” which won multiple country awards for best song of the year. He continues to write and perform hit songs like “Soldiers and Jesus.”
13. Ray Manzarek
Most famous for playing the keyboard in “The Doors,” Manzarek joined the Army during the buildup to Vietnam. He served in Thailand and Okinawa before being kicked out. Manzarek, who had been a student at UCLA Film School before enlisting, returned to college. Only two months after graduation, Manzarek and Jim Morrison formed “The Doors” and became icons.
U.S. Army medic Joshua K. Swensen met people from all over the world while serving and those people influenced his range of musical knowledge. He’s now a music DJ in San Antonio, Texas, a town that not only has a strong military community, but a vibrant vinyl culture as well.
Not only that, but he’s heading out to Camp Lejeune over Independence Day to spin at BaseFEST powered by USAA, a free music festival that brings the entire community together at some of the largest military bases in the United States. Troops, families, and the base community can enjoy music, food & beverages, family activities, adult games, shopping, and more.
BaseFEST at Camp Lejeune will be free and open to the public (but premium tickets will get you drinks and a private beer garden — hey-o!). Swensen is looking forward to bringing his passion to the event.