Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: I need your help and I need it by August 15th!

I am judging a written music contest, with awards and prizes going to the winners.

One entry I received states that there no “war” recordings were made after the WW2-related ones issued in the mid-'40s.

Surely some must exist that refer in some way to the Korean War, Viet Nam War, and others since the 1940s.

Can you provide some specific examples of post-WW2 titles that I can use to refute the statement made on this entry?
—Kay F. Holley, Clearwater, Fla.

DEAR KAY: You are correct, of course. That's why you're the judge.

Hundreds of songs exist that make reference to wars in our country's past 60 years, as well as those which reference war in general.

Unlike those with WW1 and WW2 themes (i.e., “Over There; Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition; Hot Time in the Town of Berlin; There's a Star-Spangled Banner Waving Somewhere,” etc.) most since then are of the protest variety — a trend fueled somewhat, perhaps, by the differentiation between declared and undeclared wars.

There are enough titles to prove your point many times over, so I'll just throw out a few randomly selected warfaring tunes, listed alphabetically by performer.

Again, this is by no means a comprehensive listing:

“Marines, Let's Go” (Rex Allen); “Viet Nam” (Jimmy Cliff); “I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-To-Die Rag” and “War Widow” (Country Joe McDonald and the Fish); “One Tin Soldier” (Coven, and Original Caste); “Fortunate Son” (Creedence Clearwater Revival); “The War Song” (Culture Club); “Dear Ivan” (Jimmy Dean); “Universal Soldier” (Donovan, and Glen Campbell); “Viet Nam Blues” (Dave Dudley); “Masters of War” and “With God on Our Side” (Bob Dylan); “Lucky Man” (Emerson, Lake and Palmer); “Civil War” (Guns N' Roses); “That's the Way It Was in '51” (Merle Haggard); “Handsome Johnny” (Richie Havens); “Letter from Viet Nam” (Emanuel Lasky); “Send in the Marines” (Tom Lehrer); “Imagine;” Happy Xmas (War Is Over);” and “Give Peace a Chance” (John Lennon); “An Open Letter to My Teenage Son” (Victor Lundberg); “War” (Bob Marley and the Wailers); “Eve of Destruction” (Barry McGuire); “War Games” (Monkees); “The Cruel War” (Peter, Paul, and Mary); “The Dogs of War” (Pink Floyd); “Soldier's Prayer in Viet Nam” (Don Reno & Benny Martin); “Ruby (Don't Take Your Love to Town)” (Kenny Rogers and the First Edition); “Seven O'clock News / Silent Night” (Simon & Garfunkel); “Born in the USA” and “Youngstown” (Bruce Springsteen); “War” (Edwin Starr); “Bullet the Blue Sky” (U2); “This War” (Sting); “Bomb Iran” (Vince Vance); “Men in a War” (Suzanne Vega); “Coming Home Soldier” (Bobby Vinton);” and “War Song” (Neil Young).

You will note that I did not even get into the horde of recently-issued Afghanistan and Iraq-inspired songs, many of which are by country music artists.

More importantly, we did make your August 15 deadline. I am certainly used to those.

DEAR JERRY: During our weekly bridge game, I put three cards on the table and sort of sang “one, two, three,” a line I recall from a very popular song of long ago.

Another person at the table knew another line, which is “like taking candy from a baby.”

Unfortunately, none of us could name either the title or the singer. One lady thought it might be Bobby Vinton.

We all read your column and would be grateful if you could clear up this little mystery.
—Edward M. Cox, Huntsville, Ala.

DEAR EDWARD: Your bridge group is not the only one curious about “1-2-3” (other than the spelling, you have the correct title).

Carla Gowin, of Paducah, Kentucky, also asks the name of this singer.

Very popular is right. In late November 1965, “1-2-3” ranked No. 1 on Cash Box and No. 2 on Billboard, topped on that chart only by the Supremes' “I Hear a Symphony.”

The vocalist is Len Barry.

IZ ZAT SO? Before going solo, Len Barry sang lead for the Dovells. It is his voice you hear on all of their '60s hits, including “Bristol Stomp; Do the New Continental; Bristol Twistin' Annie; The Jitterbug; You Can't Sit Down;” and “Betty in Bermudas.”

Much like the Supremes denied “1-2-3” the No. 1 position in late 1965, Dion's “Runaround Sue” kept “Bristol Stomp” sitting at No. 2 for two weeks in late '61.

I guess if it isn't one thing, it's another.

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