Vietnam Music Monday: “Waist Deep in the Big Muddy”

Waist Deep in the Big Muddy

“Waist Deep in the Big Muddy” was released in 1967 on the album Waist Deep in the Big Muddy and Other Love Songs. (Newseum collection)

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!

Waist Deep in the Big Muddy (1967)

Pete Seeger

“Waist Deep in the Big Muddy” was the story of a platoon of soldiers fording murky waters during World War II. Pete Seeger wrote the song in 1967 as an allegory for U.S. involvement in Vietnam. When Seeger sang it on “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour” in September 1967, CBS censors cut the song before the show was broadcast. The Smothers Brothers protested the censorship, and the network eventually relented. Seeger returned to the show five months later to perform the song.

 

We were waist deep in the Big Muddy
And the big fool said to push on
The sergeant said, “Sir, with all this equipment
No man will be able to swim”
“Sergeant, don’t be a Nervous Nellie”
The captain said to him
“All we need is a little determination
Men, follow me, I’ll lead on”
We were neck deep in the Big Muddy
And the big fool said to push on

Purchase “Waist Deep in the Big Muddy” on Amazon or iTunes.

“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.

CBS News

Contributing support for the “Reporting Vietnam” exhibit is provided by CBS Corporation, in memory of CBS News correspondent Bob Simon.

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