From the hall:
As part of Kent State University’s Commemoration of May 4th, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum will host a panel discussion exploring how rock and roll reflected attitudes about the Vietnam war. The panel will feature rock legend and anti- war activist Country Joe McDonald (“Fixin’ To Die Rag”), Dr. Hugo Keesing, curator of the soon-to-be-released Bear Family Records box set ….Next Stop is Vietnam: The War on Record, 1961-2008, and author Doug Bradley, who is documenting how Vietnam soldiers used music during and after the war. The panel will explore music about the war from multiple points of view and genres. The presentation will include rare selections from …Next Stop is Vietnam, the most comprehensive anthology of music inspired by the Vietnam War ever released. The panel will be moderated by Dr. Lauren Onkey, Vice President of Education and Public Programs. The panel will be held at 7 pm on Monday, May 4th in the the Kent State University Student Center (the Kiva). It is free and open to the public.
Country Joe McDonald
Joe McDonald, born in Washington, D.C. in 1942, grew up in the Los Angeles suburb of El Monte. In the early Sixties, McDonald moved to Berkely to go to school but ended up playing music in a number of groups. In the fall of 1965, Joe got the idea of doing a recorded issue for his magazine Rag Baby, and pressed an EP that featured two songs by Country Joe and the Fish. After a period of what could be called indecision, Joe McDonald and Barry Melton earnestly put together a rock band, called it Country Joe and the Fish, and started working on music on a full-time basis. In 1966, they signed with Vanguard Records and recorded Electric Music for the Mind and Body. By 1968, they released Together, and were touring successfully around the world. In the summer of 1969, they performed at Woodstock with a controversial performance of “Fixin’ To Die Rag” which was featured in the 1970 movie Woodstock. McDonald continues to write, record and tour as a solo performer. After attempts to reunite the original band he formed the Country Joe band with three original members. The band toured throughout 2004 and 2005. In 2007 he completed his Tribute to Woody Guthrie show, a mix of music and spoken word, and has since taken it around the country to great acclaim.
Starting in 1982 Joe began actively working with and for Vietnam Veterans Against The War, Swords To Plowshares and Vietnam Veterans Of America to further the cause of the thousands of veterans who had become disenfranchised by the system's neglect. That spring along with wife Kathy and bass player Peter Walsh, he toured the US in a VW bus playing for vet groups and winding up at the vet camp-out cum convention (called Dewey Canyon IV) on the Mall in Washington. Later that year through a series of "Vet Tapes," provided to Veterans Administration Outreach Centers, he helped to bring the gap between the Vets "being home" and "coming home". He also started his work with military nurses, culminating with a song originally written for the TV documentary Secret Agent -- "The Girl Next Door". This lead to the 1988 Rag Baby release, Vietnam Experience.
Vietnam veteran Doug Bradley is assistant director of marketing and communications for the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Office of Corporate Relations. He was drafted into the U. S. Army in March of 1970 and served as an information specialist (journalist) at U. S. Army Republic of Vietnam (USARV) headquarters in Long Binh, South Vietnam, from November 1970 to November 1971. Following his discharge and tenure in graduate school, Bradley moved to Madison where he helped to establish Vets House, a storefront, community-based service center for Vietnam era veterans in 1974. He later served as Director of Vets House for two years, managing a staff of 20 and a budget in excess of $1 million.
Bradley has written extensively about his Vietnam, and post-Vietnam, experiences, including poetry and prose in several editions of The Deadly Writers Patrol magazine. He and UW-Madison Professor Craig Werner are collaborating on a book about music and Vietnam, We Gotta Get Out of This Place: Music and the Vietnam Experience. The book tells the story of the Vietnam War through the music-based memories of those who served. The book weaves a tapestry of voices set against the cacophony of the popular music of the 1960s and 1970s. From “Chain of Fools and “Fortunate Son” to “Purple Haze” and “We Gotta Get out of This Place,” their work shows how soldiers used music to form bonds, express their feelings, and hold on to the humanity the world was trying to take away.
Hugo A. Keesing
Hugo Keesing bought his first 45 rpm record, the Platters' "The Great Pretender," in 1956. By the time he finished high school, his collection numbered some 350 discs. He continued collecting and learning about pop music in college, becoming interested in how song lyrics were being treated as the “voice of young America.”
In graduate school, he earned a Ph.D. in psychology by writing one of the earliest doctoral dissertations on the relationship between popular music and youth culture. The study later became the basis for a 12-hour radio show produced for American Forces Radio Network (AFN) in Europe. While Dr. Keesing taught in the University of Maryland’s overseas programs, including in Vietnam, in the early 1970s, he had a brief stint as a disk jockey on the AFN radio station in Karamursel, Turkey.
On returning to the US in the mid-70s, Dr. Keesing developed an undergraduate course called "Popular Music in American Society." Classes focused on how music about people, styles, issues, events, media, products, fads and values reflected important aspects of American society. He taught it for 15 years at the University of Maryland, College Park and in overseas locations. To support the course he continued to buy records and tapes, and began a serious collection of rock books. These became the foundation of the Keesing Musical Archives; a collection of nearly 4,000 books, 15,000 records and 17,000 pieces of sheet music.
Dr. Keesing presented his first research paper on music and the Vietnam War in 1979. In conjunction with the monograph “Vietnam on Record,” he co-authored the first Vietnam Discography of some 550 song titles in 1993. He approached Bear Family in 2006 with a proposal for this project. Two years later he formally began listening to, selecting [from a database that had grown to more than 2500 recordings] and organizing the Anthology’s music. As the more than 300 tracks and documentary snippets were agreed upon, he wrote the majority of the artist biographies and track liner notes for the set’s book. Many of the book’s photos are from his personal collection of Vietnam artifacts.
He has presented or published more than 130 papers, chapters and monographs on pop music, many dealing with music’s roles during times of war.
BEAR FAMILY BOX
…NEXT STOP IS VIETNAM: The War on Record, 1961 – 2008 is a stunning, years-in-the-making anthology of the Vietnam War's musical legacy. Presented on 13 CDs with a 304-page book illustrated with numerous archival photographs, this collection examines the war in a powerful and unprecedented way. Over 300 music and spoken word tracks take the listener through a guided tour of this epochal period of modern history. From America's first, naïve impressions of a country called Vietnam through the spirited musical debate over the morality of the war to the healing meditations on the conflict's lengthy aftermath, this set captures it all and more. Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Merle Haggard, Pete Seeger, Bruce Springsteen, Phil Ochs, Johnny Cash, Yoko Ono, John Lennon, The Doors, Country Joe McDonald and dozens of other artists including many Vietnam veterans are the tour guides through this enlightening and entertaining journey.
The full-color book that accompanies the music is packed with information on the songs and the artists who recorded them by music scholar Hugo A. Keesing; a history of the war by Vietnam historian Lois T. Vietri; and an oral history of the tunes that 'in-country' vets loved best by authors Doug Bradley and Craig Werner. The introduction to this remarkable tome is written by the legendary Country Joe McDonald.
The most comprehensive anthology of music inspired by the Vietnam War ever released.
Over 330 titles covering all facets of the war and its aftermath featuring The Doors, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Bruce Springsteen, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, John Lennon, Yoko Ono, Country Joe McDonald and dozens of other artists.
Rarely heard documentary material including patriotic Public Service Announcements, field news reports and intercepted North Vietnamese radio transmissions of Jane Fonda and Hanoi Hannah.
A heavily illustrated, full-colour 300+ page book containing extensive artist/song notes, Vietnam War history and recollections by vets on their favourite songs.
Two discs of music exclusively by Vietnam veterans.
Never-before-released tracks recorded during the war by in-country soldiers.