A couple of days ago I reviewed Eve Of Destruction by Barry McGuire which was one of the great protest songs and albums of the sixties. I feel it only fair that the other side of the issue be presented which brings us to S Sgt. Barry Sadler and his Ballads Of The Green Berets.
There were hundreds of anti-war protest songs created during the sixties and many went on to fame and fortune. Pro Vietnam war songs were few and far in between. Rarer still was the commercially successful patriotic song. Barry Sadler’s “Ballad Of The Green Berets” was the most successful song of this type as it topped The American singles charts for five weeks during 1966. The album of the same name would be one of the fastest selling in the RCA label’s history at the time reaching the million mark within the first month of its release.
Barry Sadler was a Green Beret who was wounded in Vietnam. While he was a limited vocalist, his songs of the war resonated within The United States. They initiated a pride for the men and women serving in the armed services. His appearance on The Ed Sullivan show was watched by millions of Americans.
Ballads Of The Green Berets is an album frozen in time as it reflects an era. It received a lot of criticism from the left at the time but today has settled into a well respected and poignant artifact of its time period.
The memorable title song of sacrifice and passing the torch to his son is still an effective listen. “Letter From Vietnam,” “Badge Of Courage,” “Trooper’s Lament,” and “I’m Watching The Raindrops Fall” all continue his story telling style. His “Salute To The Nurses” was a rare acknowledgment of the women who were serving in the war. He even exhibits some humor with his amusing “Garet Trooper.” CD reissues include his only other top thirty single, “The A-Team” which fits in well.
Sadler quickly disappeared from the music scene. He achieved some success with his series of Casca books about an immortal soldier. He was convicted of voluntary manslaughter during the seventies. During 1988, while in Guatemala City, he was shot in the head under circumstances which have never been fully explained. He would never recover from this attack and would die about a year later at the age of 48.
Barry Sadler’s legacy is creating one the most popular patriotic albums in music history. It may seem dated today but during the mid-sixties it spoke to a large segment of America’s population.Powered by Sidelines