Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne

FOR THE WEEK OF April 13, 1998

DEAR JERRY: Regarding your recent column on songs for the Vietnam war, if that is what it could be labeled, I was in Nam from 1967-'69. I had an American musical-comedy group there known as Jaybird and the Shilos. We went over for a period of six weeks and ended up staying for three years.

The troops were so starved for their own people, especially ones from their same state or town. I am now 65 and I will never forget the sight of our guys standing in trenches watching our show, in tears and laughter. God only knows what went through their minds and hearts. For me, I only know I was supposed to be there.

I would also like to mention an unsung hero, the late Leo Fender, inventor of Fender Guitars. He supplied our unit with the equipment we needed more than once when the enemy decided to mortar and rocket the areas where we were. I would contact him through Mars Radio, and he would have more guitars, mikes, speakers, and everything we needed sent. Very few knew that. He was a great person.

The two songs our people wanted to hear were “Detroit City” (“Oh how I wanna go home”) and “The Green, Green Grass of Home.” This my friend is not second hand info. We sang those two songs more times than I can recall. I hope there is more reaction from our guys that were there, and that they will tell you their favorites. They also had a song of their own, which we never made any remarks about when they sang it: “We're all going home in a plastic bag.” I hated this one. You can't imagine how it hurt to hear them do that, but that was what they felt at that time.

Thanks for bringing all of this into focus.
—“Jaybird” Hartley (No address used)

DEAR JAYBIRD: Thanks for sharing your memories. There is no perspective like a first-hand one.

DEAR JERRY: I always associated “The Ballad of the Green Berets” with Vietnam. Is that a correct assumption?

Also, a year or so ago, you gave some information about “The Little Blue Man.” I remember it as being sung by Rosemary Clooney.

You said it was on a Time-Life tape or CD called “Your Hit Parade: Golden Goofers.” Trouble is, when I tried to call Time-Life, I got bounced all over the place and never got an answer as to how to order the album.
—Janet Bentley, Huntsville, Ala. (

DEAR JANET: You are but one of several who wrote suggesting “The Ballad of the Green Berets” as an appropriate selection for Becky Huber's Memorial Day program.

If Becky doesn't care that the song mention or specifically refer to the Vietnam conflict, then SSgt Barry Sadler's “The Ballad of the Green Berets” is probably the best choice. Plus, more people would be familiar with this pop hit than Johnny Wright's “Hello Vietnam,” which, though it hit No. 1 on the C&W charts, received no Top 40 attention.

As for “The Little Blue Man,” - by Betty Johnson, not Rosemary Clooney - if you can't find Time-Life's “Your Hit Parade: Golden Goofers” (HPD-40), you can always track down the original single (Atlantic 1169). One should be available for $10 to $20.

Since this column is carried in Chicago (by the Sun-Times), perhaps someone from Time-Life will see it and contact you regarding “Your Hit Parade: Golden Goofers.”

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