color: SOME SOLDIER'S MOM: The Music of War -- and Luke Stricklin

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

The Music of War -- and Luke Stricklin

Wars inspire people to write music... back to walls of Jericho... back to the Romans... music and words to describe all that people and soldiers feel about conflicts. Music and songs to sing the praises of the conquering heroes, to mourn the deaths of soldiers and to tell the stories that all wars entail.... of distant love, of shining futures lost, of the frustrations of battle, of wanting peace. Says Glen Brunman, head of Sony Music's soundtrack division, "Music has always provided inspiration in turbulent times.... songs have the power to move people from the sidelines to the front lines." They always have, and now is no different.
WWI had it's songs "Over There" (and not that crap from the TV show)", "Oh! How I Hate To Get Up In The Morning", "Hail! Hail! The Gang's All Here!", "Pomp and Circumstance", "It's a Long, Long Way to Tipperary", and "K-K-K-Katy", among many others...

Mostly the songs reflect patriotism and support for the efforts of those who have gone to fight and the longing of those left behind, as well as the longing of the soldiers themselves. Part hype, part propaganda and a big part patriotism. There was a plethora of music during the long years of WWII -- "Don't Worry Mom", "As Time Goes By" (famous from the "Casablanca" soundtrack), "Deep In The Heart of Texas", "The Last Time I Saw Paris", "The Very Thought Of You", "There I've Said It Again", "They're Either Too Young or Too Old", "When The Lights Go On Again All Over The World" and "Sentimental Journey" and who could forget White Christmas, and "I'll be Home for Christmas"? and a personal favorite of millions who served during peace and war This is the Army Mr. Jones ... [For you youngun's out there who are drawing a complete blank, it would behoove you to track down some of these and give a listen... While WWII was even before MY time (I'm still slightly younger than dirt), it's still some of the best music of the 20th century!)

Vietnam had its own explosion of music -- not just popular, but also for the first time, more songs opposed to that War than in support -- reflecting the shift of popular sentiment such as 'I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin’-to-Die-Rag'. by Country Joe (McDonald) and the Fish, and Edwin Starr's "War". But there was music that spoke to soldiers or just plain were enjoyed by everyone -- "Run Through the Jungle" (Creedence Clearwater Revival), Country Roads (John Denver), "I Feel Good" (James Brown), "What a Wonderful World" (Louis Armstrong), "Purple Haze" (Jimmy Hendrix), "Whipping Post" (Allman Bros.)... too many to recount and many immortalized in the story of Adrian Cronauer in "Good Morning, Vietnam!"
Well, now the music of Operation Iraqi Freedom is starting to make its presence felt... Of course, there is the anthem to those who serve in Toby Keith's "American Soldier", "Courtesy of the Red, White & Blue", "The Taliban Song" and other songs of outrage after the attacks on America... And, of course, the music of "Gunner Palace". There are also many artists that have recorded songs alluding to the war or criticizing foreign policy... What is not in dispute is the importance of music to those serving (or having served) in Iraq -- be it rap, country, metal, rock... to inspire, to soothe and to pass the time...
But now we have OIF veterans writing music about their experiences... and the first notable effort to come to my attention is the young Luke Stricklin. From Luke's bio: He joined the National Guard at seventeen, went to boot camp at Fort Benning Home of the infantry. Luke was an infantry soldier attached to 1/153 Infantry and was in boot camp during 9/11... He graduated and went back to Arkansas. He deployed in 2003 and spent 18 months on active duty -- Fort Hood (TX), Fort Polk (LA) and 12 months in Baghdad. He wrote the song "American By God's Amazing Grace" at FOB Warrior (Baghdad) in December 2004. Luke redeployed (returned home) in March of this year.

I have had a number of links to songs composed and sung by other artists forwarded to me, but frankly they were awful and I thought a cheap attempt to capitalize on the soldiers (because you can't be that bad a singer and not know it.... oh yeah, then there's that "Idol" thing... but I digress.)

But dang this kid sounds GOOD... and the song is pretty special, as well. Even if you don't usually like country music, give it a listen at Luke Stricklin's site I sure hope he makes it... BIG. (Toby are ya listenin'??)


Postscript: I am certainly no expert on phenomenon of music and war and how they interplay (although I own and listen to an awful lot of music). For a historical analysis of "The Music of War", see William R. Trotter's piece at

And if you want to hear the songs of WWII, there is an exceptional site called 6th Corps Music
"Entertainers of the USO & Other WWII Selections" which allows you to listen to full songs and not just a bite... awesome. Be sure to donate if you like the site so they can maintain the library and add more songs.

(For more complete lists of the songs of the Vietnam War, visit The Vietnam Era (Music) site ( and the 1st Battalion of the 50th Infantry site (

And go ahead and pass the links to your parents and grandparents -- somehow I think they'll get a kick out of them!

Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.


At 8/02/2005 3:15 AM , Blogger Stacy said...

I ordered my Luke Stricklin CD almost two months ago, and apparently they were so overwhelmed with orders, which they were not expecting. I just received a demo tape last week until they can get the actual one out. I can't wait to get the real thing. Waiting patiently. It should be here sometime in the next two weeks.

At 8/02/2005 3:22 AM , Blogger Call Me Grandma said...

I got a kick out of it. Thanks Mom, for another interesting post.
It brought back memories of the 'Good ole days'.

At 8/02/2005 3:33 AM , Blogger StoicMom said...

Stop! You're scaring me. I know all those WW I songs. Yikes.


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