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The Effects of War and Music Together

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Abernathy 1

Phillip Abernathy

Freshman English 111-04

Dr. Doyle

17 December 1999

The Effects of War and Music Together

How are music and war related? Music puts a voice in the people's ears, and tells them whether or not we should be involved in that war. It helped out the troops when they were over seas to not be so home sick. Also, every war preceding the Vietnam War had music to help or support the war, but the Vietnam War is where music during wartime changed.

The Vietnam War has been called "America's first rock-and-roll war" because of rock music that was played and listened to by all Americans. As the draft was raised and draft dodgers were being cracked down on, an overwhelming number of military personnel belonged to one generation: the average age of combat soldiers was 19 and 90 percent were under 23 years of age (Vietnam War Characteristics). Many of these soldiers did not want to be in Vietnam, and no one wanted to be away from his surroundings back home.

Abernathy 2

Therefore, many soldiers took things that reminded them of home. Rock music was what most soldiers brought from home, along with beads and peace symbols. The beads and peace symbols were worn with the uniforms to remind the soldiers of the family at home (Abernathy interview).

Between the military branches, there was no preference in what music was liked, however officers liked one thing and soldiers liked another. Most soldiers preferred hard rock or psychedelic music; 30 percent enjoyed rhythm and blues; 10 percent, country; 5 percent, classical; and 10 percent, folk (Decurtis 74). The men often complained that Armed Forces radio station were horrible, part of that was not the radio stations fault because the Vietnam government would allow certain music to be played. Because Vietnam government banned a lot of songs from the airwaves soldiers preferred to listen cassette tapes, either brought from home or purchased on leave. The tape players were small, battery operated, highly portable, and therefore easily carried into the field.

Rock music during this time period reflected on the Vietnam War, and since music helps define a situation,

Abernathy 3

music helped define the Vietnam War and how people despised the fact that we were involved. Lyrics of popular songs were used in the context of the war. Rock-and-roll substituted for lock and load, referring to the procedure for readying the M16 for firing or for switching the weapon from semiautomatic to automatic fire. Songs were written

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