Protest Songs Throughout the Vietnam War

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Throughout all the anti-war protests and marches during the Vietnam War, it is interesting to note the changes in the music of that time. From the beginning of the war, where support and loyalty from Americans was present in songs, to the end of the war, where anger and distrust was evident in musical lyrics, American’s opinion changed about the war. This change in opinion was easily recognized by the altering of musical lyrics about the war when Americans grew tired of the constant sending of U.S. troops to Vietnam. The growing dissatisfaction with the Vietnam War led to increasing levels of anger and hostility in the popular music of the time.

In 1965, Lyndon Johnson, with solid support from the American public, made the decision to deploy combat troops to Vietnam, a small country in Southeast Asia (Vietnam War Timeline). This was done with the intention of halting the takeover of South Vietnam by communist North Vietnam. The rise of communist North Vietnam and their attempted control over South Vietnam made the United States feel that they must intervene.

The American public was generally supportive of this movement, in the beginning. The song “The Ballad of the Green Beret”, written by ex-green beret Barry Sadler, was one of the few songs of this era to cast the military in a positive light. He said that, “Fighting soldiers from the sky/fearless men who jump and die/Men who mean just what they say/ the brave men of the Green Beret” ( When that song was released in 1966 it sold two million copies, and the “song pulled its biggest fans from that segment of the American population that concurred with the songs Salute-to-the-brave-American-soldier sediment” (Hillstrom 27).

Also during this time there were growi...

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...o America’s cry for peace.

Works Cited

Clymer, Kenton J. The Vietnam War: Its History, Literature and Music. El Paso, TX: Texas Western, 1998. Print.

Førland, Tor Egil. "Bringing It All Back Home or Another Side of Bob Dylan: Midwestern Isolationist." Journal of American Studies 26.03 (1992): 337. Print.

Hillstrom, Kevin, and Laurie Collier Hillstrom. The Vietnam Experience: a Concise Encyclopedia of American Literature, Songs, and Films. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1998. Print.

"Vietnam War — Articles, Video, Pictures and Facts." — History Made Every Day — American & World History. Web. 23 Nov. 2011.

"Vietnam War Timeline." Welcome to English « Department of English, College of LAS, University of Illinois. Web. 23 Nov. 2011. - Your Music Community with the Largest Searchable Lyrics Database. Web. 23 Nov. 2011.
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