We Gotta Get Out of This Place: The Soundtrack of the Vietnam War is a new book by veteran Doug Bradley and Craig Werner, professor of Afro-American studies at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, about soldiers' musical memories and the impact of James Brown, Eric Burdon, Country Joe McDonald, and other popular artists on the Vietnam experience and our understanding of it.
At KQED's Next Avenue, Bradley shared the "Top 10 Songs of Vietnam" mentioned by the hundreds soldiers they interviewed for the book. Here are the top three with Bradley's comments on them:
1. We Gotta Get Out of This Place by The Animals
No one saw this coming. Not the writers of the song — the dynamic Brill Building duo of Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil; not the group who recorded it — The Animals and their iconic lead singer, Eric Burdon; not the 3 million soldiers who fought in Vietnam who placed extra importance on the lyrics. But the fact is that We Gotta Get Out of This Place is regarded by most Vietnam vets as our We Shall Overcome, says Bobbie Keith, an Armed Forces Radio DJ in Vietnam from 1967-69. Or as Leroy Tecube, an Apache infantryman stationed south of Chu Lai in 1968, recalls: “When the chorus began, singing ability didn’t matter; drunk or sober, everyone joined in as loud as he could.” No wonder it became the title of our book!
2. I Feel Like I’m Fixin to Die Rag by Country Joe & The FishRead the rest
Misunderstood and misinterpreted by most Americans, Country Joe’s iconic song became a flashpoint for disagreements about the war and its politics.