Tales That I Can Tell
It has been said that Vietnam was the wrong war, and the wrong war doesn't bring out songs.
There were the protest songs and the protest singers of the late sixties and early seventies. Almost every anti-war rally formed around a nucleus of string-players, song-singers, and public address systems. The songs were there because a lot of people thought Vietnam was the "wrong war."
Let me tell you about another song-singer: The soldier on the battlefield. The guy with a gun in his hand. The man in the cross- hairs of an enemy rifle.
He sang, too.
He wasn't singing because it was the "wrong war" or the right war. His songs were neither disloyal nor particularly patriotic. He sang because he was bored, or scared, or because he was deliriously happy that the "olden BB with his name on it had misfired. He sang because he was sad and lonely and a long way from home. He sang through his tears as he bade good bye to a friend in a body bag.
He was at war, and war is not the normal human condition. His songs helped him to survive.
Humans deliver their most poignant profundities either from the depths of despair or the peaks of ecstasy and when delivered by a poet at the business end of a gun barrel, they end up in a song as often as not.
The right or wrong of the war doesn't have a damn thing to do with it.