Doug Bradley and Craig Werner, authors of We Gotta Get out of This Place: The Soundtrack of the Vietnam War (Culture, Politics, and the Cold War), will speak on March 25, 7 p.m., at the Hilton Fort Collins as part of the Evening with an Author series sponsored by the Friends of the CSU Libraries and the Poudre River Friends of the Library.
The event is free and open to the public; no tickets required. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., and seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. A book signing and sales will follow the program.
In this book, Bradley and Werner place popular music at the heart of the American experience in Vietnam. For a Kentucky rifleman who spent his tour trudging through Vietnam’s Central Highlands, it was Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Are Made for Walkin.” For a black marine distraught over the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., it was Aretha Franklin’s “Chain of Fools.” And, for countless other Vietnam vets, it was “I Feel Like I’m Fixin’ to Die,” “Who’ll Stop the Rain,” or the song that gives this book its title.
The authors explore how and why U.S. troops turned to music as a way of connecting to each other and the world back home and of coping with the complexities of the war. They demonstrate that music was important for every group of Vietnam veterans no matter what their ethnicity, gender, or rank. Because the average age of a combat soldier was 19, one can appreciate how music would be indelibly written into their experiences.
Many of the voices in the book are of those ordinary soldiers, but there are also “solo” pieces by songwriters and performers whose music influenced soldiers’ lives.
Bradley, a Vietnam veteran, teaches a course on the war with Werner, professor of Afro-American studies at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He is the author of DEROS Vietnam, and has written extensively about his Vietnam, and post-Vietnam, experiences. He was drafted into the US Army in March 1970 and served as an information specialist (journalist) at US Army Republic of Vietnam headquarters near Saigon. He also has authored Higher Ground: Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Curtis Mayfield, and the Rise and Fall of American Soul.
Werner is a widely respected music writer whose book A Change Is Gonna Come: Music, Race and the Soul of America is used in dozens of classes on popular music. He is a member of the Nominating Committee of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
This program is part of a series of free author programs presented by and sponsored by Friends of the CSU Libraries and the Poudre River Friends of the Library, and supported by KUNC Radio and the Hilton Fort Collins. Book sales are by Old Firehouse Books.