“The Vietnam War: A History in Song” -History Today

“The ‘First Television War’ was also documented in over 5,000 songs. From protest to patriotism, popular music reveals the complexity of America’s two-decade long experience struggling against communism in Vietnam.”

agent_orangeUS helicopter spraying Agent Orange during the Vietnam War.

by Justin Brummer

“In 1963, an obscure Louisiana-based country singer called Bob Necaise released ‘Mr. Where is Viet-Nam’. It was the first record made in the United States to allude to the Vietnam War in its title and highlighted that, according to opinion polls, most Americans paid little or no attention to the developing conflict in Indochina, which would consume their nation for 20 years. In December 1961, under President John F. Kennedy, the US had 3,205 military personnel stationed in Vietnam. This number increased to over 16,000 by the end of 1963 and the conflict began to receive more media coverage. In Necaise’s song, Lil Gary Dee, a ‘little boy not yet four years old’, asks:

Mister where is Vietnam?

Is it very far away?

I want to see my daddy

Will you take me there today?

Click here to read this article in its entirety at History Today.

This Country Joe McDonald classic is emblazoned in our memory:

Well, come on all of you, big strong men,
Uncle Sam needs your help again.
He’s got himself in a terrible jam
Way down yonder in Vietnam
So put down your books and pick up a gun,
We’re gonna have a whole lotta fun.
And it’s one, two, three,
What are we fighting for ?
Don’t ask me, I don’t give a damn,
Next stop is Vietnam;
And it’s five, six, seven,
Open up the pearly gates,
Well there ain’t no time to wonder why,
Whoopee! we’re all gonna die.
The complete lyrics are here:


One comment

  1. I remember the Pete Seeger song “Waist Deep in the Big Muddy” and many others of that era.

    “We were waste deep in the Big Muddy/But the big fool said to push on”

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