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In Depth: Music of the Vietnam Era

There is no way to prove this, of course, but it seems safe to say that no war was as closely tied to the popular music of its era than Vietnam.

What we know of as the Vietnam War gradually emerged from War War II and the painful end of the French occupation. Thus, there is no real starting point. Here is an interesting video that features the number one song from each of the years in which the United States was most involved until the bitter end on the embassy roof in Saigon. It was posted by Seth Anderson.

Editor’s Note: I just reread this and perhaps should clarify. My idea is that Vietnam probably was the first war in which the major role of the music was to provide commentary. During earlier wars, music was primarily a source of support and encouragement for the troops. In Vietnam, that role was secondary to criticism of the conflict and the government. That’s a big difference, in my opinion.

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Here’s What’s Here

The Daily Music Break explores every genre of music, from hip hop to opera. It's simple: Boundaries are dumb. It's all good. Here is more about the site and here is our index:

--A Tribe Called Quest to The Dick Hyman Trio (In other words, A to H)

--Indigo Girls to Queen Ida (I to Q)

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Reading Music

The stories of the great bands and musicians are fascinating. Musicians as a group are brilliant, but often troubled. The combination of creativity and drama makes for great reading.

Here are some books to check out.

Duke Ellington brought class, sophistication and style to jazz which, until that point, was proudly unpolished and raucous. His story is profound. The author, Terry Teachout, also wrote "Pops," the acclaimed bio of Louis Armstrong. Click here or on the image.


What else is there to say? Here is the story behind every song written by The Beatles. Click here or on the image.


The Grateful Dead don't get enough credit for the profound nature of its lyrics. Many of the band's songs are driven by a deep and literate Americana ("I'm Uncle Sam/That's who I am/Been hidin' out/In a rock and roll band" and "Majordomo Billy Bojangles/Sit down and have a drink with me/What's this about Alabama/Keeps comin' back to me?").

David Dodd's exhaustive study tells the story, song by song. Click here or on the image.