“I hope and pray someday the world will learn, that fires we don’t put out will bigger burn. We must save freedom now at any cost … or someday our own freedom will be lost.” – Hello Vietnam
One of the most difficult times and things for countries and individuals to go through is war. History has shown us that music, was used as a way to help soldiers cope and deal with the traumas, stress, and issues brought by war. While some may think that music was first used during WWI or WWII only, that is not the case. The truth is that music was used during wars dating back thousands of years ago. While the instruments and tools may have changed, the message of music during the wars itself has remained the same.
The use of music during wars changed dramatically. It was used as an instrument of propaganda, not just entertainment. Still, in army camps, factories and hospitals, music blaring from the radio helped lift the spirits of soldiers every day. Concerts were also used to boost the morale of both civilian and military.
Music played an important cultural role during the Vietnam War, representing the rebellious views of a young generation and the traditional values of an older, so-called “silent majority.” Particular songs captured the emotions of people for and against the war and reflected the mood of an increasingly diverse country amid dramatic social and political change.
In the year of 1965, United States involvement in the Vietnam War was intensifying. There was a song with the title of “Hello Vietnam” that became very popular.
The song spent multiple weeks at number one during a time that our country was at war and our men were being called to duty. Tom T. Hall penned the song and Johnny Wright excellently did the recording.
The hit spent twenty weeks on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles chart with three weeks at number one.
The single, with backing vocals from Wright’s wife, Kitty Wells, was Wright’s most successful release on the U.S. country music chart as a solo singer. Somewhat unusual for this song’s success was the fact that the song openly supported the Vietnam War effort. Wright’s popularity of the song came at a time when war protest songs dominated pop music charts and when public support for the war eroded.
The song was used as the opening theme in the film Full Metal Jacket.
Johnnie Wright, who has died aged 97, was one-half of one of the great duet acts in country music. Under the billing of Johnnie & Jack, he and fellow singer-guitarist Jack Anglin were popular throughout the southeastern United States for 25 years. They were often united in broadcasts and on tours with Wright’s wife. Moreover, in hit recordings such as Poison Love, Cryin’ Heart Blues, and Goodnight, Sweetheart, Goodnight, they spiced country music’s plain cooking with exotic dashes of Latin American music and black doo-wop vocalizing, yet for a decade they have valued cast members of the conservative Grand Ole Opry.
However, Jack Anglin was suddenly killed in a car accident in March 1963. Ironically, Anglin was involved in that car crash on the way to Patsy Cline’s funeral.
As a solo artist, Mr. Wright topped the country charts in 1965 with “Hello Vietnam.” Long before that, though, Mr. Wright’s career had been eclipsed by that of his wife, whose 1952 hit, “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels,” helped make her the most popular female country singer of the 1950s. Besides managing her career, Mr. Wright was the one who suggested that she adopt the stage name Kitty Wells, taken from a song recorded by the Pickard Family, “Sweet Kitty Wells.” She was born Ellen Muriel Deason.
Music was always a family pursuit for the Wrights. In fact, they toured with their children as the Kitty Wells Family Show until they were in their 8os.