Music in the Vietnam War


Music can tell you a lot about social and political movements of a certain time period.  During the Vietnam War, there were many songs, now considered timeless classics, which were based on war protests of the 60s.  For example, “Fortunate Son” by CCR protested the draft and the preferential treatment of those in the upper class, who were “born with a silver spoon in hand.”

This song depicts the epitome of 1960s class warfare, where sons of senators, college students (who were mainly in the upper class), and those with high-profile positions in society were able to avoid the draft.  Thus, those in the lower class were left as the primary people fighting in the extensive Vietnam War.  There was anger amongst the public at the unfairness of the draft and that the upper class were the ones making the decisions to continue the war, yet they were not the ones on the front lines.  This is shown in the song by the following lyrics:

 

Some folks inherit star spangled eyes,

Ooh, they send you down to war, Lord,

And when you ask them, “How much should we give?”

Ooh, they only answer More! more! more! yoh,

 

“Fortunate Son” is one of many songs to protest the Vietnam War and was a staple of the times.  The full lyrics to the song are below and a link to the song can be found here.

 

Some folks are born to wave the flag,

Ooh, they’re red, white and blue.

And when the band plays “Hail to the chief”,

Ooh, they point the cannon at you, Lord,

 

It ain’t me, it ain’t me, I ain’t no senator’s son, son.

It ain’t me, it ain’t me; I ain’t no fortunate one, no,

Yeah!

 

Some folks are born silver spoon in hand,

Lord, don’t they help themselves, oh.

But when the taxman comes to the door,

Lord, the house looks like a rummage sale, yes,

 

It ain’t me, it ain’t me, I ain’t no millionaire’s son, no.

It ain’t me, it ain’t me; I ain’t no fortunate one, no.

 

Some folks inherit star spangled eyes,

Ooh, they send you down to war, Lord,

And when you ask them, “How much should we give?”

Ooh, they only answer More! more! more! yoh,

 

It ain’t me, it ain’t me, I ain’t no military son, son.

It ain’t me, it ain’t me; I ain’t no fortunate one, one.

It ain’t me, it ain’t me, I ain’t no fortunate one, no no no,

It ain’t me, it ain’t me, I ain’t no fortunate son, no no no,

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4 comments on “Music in the Vietnam War

  1. DO you think the “class warfare” of who serves has changed?

    The military and government just got smarter and made it voluntary.

    If I get a chance I’ll see if I can find some research, but in general, economic need drives many people into the military. Sure, we dress it up as bravery and service and patriotism. I am sure those are true emotions for the vast majority who serve. But, those can be true and post facto justifications.

    Unless we think bravery and patriotism are more common among people with less wealth, then the social fact of the far greater representation of working class and poor folks in the military has to be explained.

  2. I was in college from ’68 to ’73. Lost a good friend, Green Beret. I can’t even count how many peace marches I was in.
    And yes, we knew that many upperclass were in the reserves, or otherwise exempt.

  3. Music was a way to express one’s feelings back in the tryings times of war. Many other rock bands of the era spoke to similar causes. It was a way for them to spread the feelings of a few on a mass scale.

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