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The Music and Sounds of the Vietnam Era

Like many other Americans, I have been tuning in to the documentary The Vietnam War by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick this past week. This 10-part series depicts the grim realities of the Vietnam War at home and abroad, and the soundtrack of the movie transports one back to the late 1960s quite perfectly.

With that period in mind, here are some selections from the Music Section that may take you back to that time.

Tunes of Bob Dylan

What retrospective of 1960s music would be complete without Bob Dylan? Such anti-war songs as “Masters of War,” “Blowin’ in the Wind,” and “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall,” place him as one of the most iconic musical voices of the Vietnam War protests. Many of his songs can be found in The Music of Bob Dylan (BRM35902), which has the music for guitar and voice. Some of Dylan’s songs were covered by other folk groups, including Peter, Paul, and Mary. Their songbook for the voice and recorder (BRM18810) contains two Dylan songs along with others made famous by the trio.

Vietnam War protesters near the Miami Beach Convention Center during the 1972 Democratic Convention – Miami Beach, Florida. Public Domain.

The Protest Song

Along with Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger was instrumental in the development of the anti-war protest song during the 1960s. Songs such as “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” and “Waist Deep in the Big Muddy” encapsulate the frustration and helplessness many felt during the war. We have two books that contain Pete Seeger interviews, including Protests of Pete Seeger (DBM00057) and Buffy Sainte-Marie and Pete Seeger (DBM00026). A new addition to the collection Pete Seeger Sings and Answers Questions (DBM03803) where he discusses different songs and styles of music that have inspired him over the years. In the vein of Pete Seeger, we also have Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger (DBM00096) and Bernice Reagon and Jean Ritchie (DBM00271), two books that profile these folk singers and their songs.

“A Concert for Peace”

By January 1973, the war was still going on and President Nixon was beginning his second term. On the day of his inauguration, there was a celebratory concert at the Kennedy Center. At the same time, Leonard Bernstein held “A Concert for Peace” at the National Cathedral. Former senator Eugene McCarthy, Eunice Shriver, Senator Ted Kennedy were all in attendance. Although it was not promoted as a response to President Nixon, its anti-war message was clear. Bernstein conducted Haydn’s Mass in a Time of War, which can be found in our collection at BRM35857 (vol. 1 – soprano, vol. 2 – alto, vol. 3 – tenor, vol. 4 – bass).

Nui Dat, Vietnam. 1967-12. Newly arrived members of 3rd Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment (3RAR), preparing their base camp for the Christmas season. Displayed Under Creative Commons License.

Songs from Vietnam

We also have some books coming soon that contain music from Vietnam. Music from North and South Vietnam (DBM03800) was recorded in 1971 and details some of the unique musical traditions from different regions of the country. An earlier recording, Music of Vietnam (DBM03801), by Vietnamese musicologist Pham Duy, presents traditional music from some Vietnamese ethnic minorities, as well as music from the ethnic Vietnamese. Lastly, Vietnam: Songs of Liberation (DBM03804) presents liberation songs from North Vietnamese sources. Lastly, Good Morning Vietnam (DBM03802) presents a collage of various soundscapes from around the war-ravaged country by photographer Claude Johner.

If you are interested in any of the above titles, please contact the NLS Music Section at [email protected] or (202) 707-0514.

New Titles from Bill Brown

For this week’s blog, the staff of the Music Section decided it would be a good idea to update our readers on some of our newly added titles from Bill Brown. These books are not on BARD. However, they are all available on digital cartridge. If you see something that interests you, please get in touch […]

Newest BARD Additions

Since we are on a roll talking about BARD, I thought it would be good to highlight some of the new (or newly digitized) titles that we’ve uploaded to BARD over the past few weeks. Talking Books Uncle Dave Macon (DBM03766) This is a look at “Uncle Dave” Macon (also known as “The Dixie Dewdrop) and […]

Our Newest Books on (and off) BARD

Since it’s back-to-school time, many folks find themselves looking for new projects, new topics of interest, and new hobbies. I sincerely hope that many of you reading this are hoping to learn how to play music or your favorite song, improving your already extant musical skill, or maybe teaching yourself about some topic in music […]

Beethoven, Brahms, and Schumann — New Music Titles

Over the past month, the Music Section has added more than 45 new braille, audio, and large-print music titles by roughly twenty-five different composers to its collection. Together, just three composers, Ludwig van Beethoven, Johannes Brahms, and Robert Schumann, wrote compositions that comprise nearly a quarter of the total amount of those additions. I thought it a good […]

Uploading Folks

Since my last blog on Christmas Eve, January 2016 is here and almost gone! I was casting about for a blog subject, and while not everyone is experiencing a snowy winter, I would like to suggest it might be a good time to settle in and listen to some original artists in the folk field. […]

New Year, New BARD Titles

I hope everyone out there had a relaxing and peace-filled holiday season. Now that the year is almost through, it’s time to look ahead to 2016 and the new beginnings that await us there. In keeping with that spirit, this blog will highlight some of the newest braille and digital talking books that have been […]

Music for the Less Common Instrument

The Music Section’s collection of music scores and audio materials is plentiful. Piano music, yes! Guitar lead sheets, we’ve got them! Vocal librettos, songs, etc. But, what about music written for lesser known instruments? Do you play the penny whistle or know how to yodel? The music collection also contains titles for instrument or voice […]

Popular Culture, Jazz, and More: New Braille Music Acquisitions Available on BARD

This past month the Music Section made available for download on BARD three contemporary, popular, and jazz titles. First, a braille transcription of Glee Songbook: Easy Piano. This book contains a collection of songs from the popular TV show Glee‘s first season arranged for easy–or beginner–piano. Examples include: Kevin Cronin of REO Speedwagon, “Can’t Fight This Feeling;” […]

Musical Mainstream: NLS Music Magazine

Musical Mainstream is one of two magazines produced by the NLS music section for our patrons. Music librarians, including myself, compile and create these Magazines. Musical Mainstream is a magazine containing current articles and audio music reviews reprinted from popular music magazines and journals. Its subject matter is classical music, and it includes information about […]