Music played an important cultural role during the Vietnam War, representing the rebellious views of a young generation and the traditional values of an older, so-called “silent majority.” The Newseum selected 40 songs released between 1963 and 1973 that typified the music of the Vietnam era. The songs captured the emotions of people for and against the war and reflected the mood of an increasingly diverse country amid dramatic social and political change.
The 40 songs, part of the Newseum’s “Reporting Vietnam” exhibit, are a fraction of the hundreds of recordings that dealt with the war and civil disobedience. Each week, one song from the playlist will be featured. We encourage you to add your favorite songs of the era to the comment section!
Recorded by John Prine
“Sam Stone” was one of the first songs of the Vietnam War era to deal with the problem of drug-addicted veterans and the suffering they endured. The song — featured on country and folk singer John Prine’s self-titled debut album — told the haunting story of a wounded veteran who died of a drug overdose after returning home.
Sam Stone came home to his wife and family
After serving in the conflict overseas
And the time that he served, had shattered all his nerves
And left a little shrapnel in his knee
But the morphine eased the pain
And the grass grew round his brain
And gave him all the confidence he lacked
With a purple heart and a monkey on his back
There’s a hole in daddy’s arm where all the money goes
|Listen to our “Reporting Vietnam” Playlist on Spotify|
“Reporting Vietnam,” a new exhibit that marks the 50th anniversary of the start of America’s first televised war, explores the dramatic stories of how journalists brought news about the war to a divided nation.
|“Reporting Vietnam” Now Open|
Contributing support for the “Reporting Vietnam” exhibit is provided by CBS Corporation, in memory of CBS News correspondent Bob Simon.