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The Soundtrack of the Vietnam War

Paul Starnes
Army Specialist Paul Starnes hosting a radio show on the American Forces Vietnam Network studio at Dong Ba Thin

While it wasn't written about the Vietnam War, the song "We Gotta Get Out of This Place" by The Animals became an iconic song at the time, and now signifies the era.

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe talks with Craig Werner and Doug Bradley, co-authors of the new book, We Gotta Get Out of This Place: The Soundtrack of the Vietnam Warwhere they explore the role of music in connecting veterans both during combat and after they returned home. 

For the book they interviewed veterans about their most-remembered songs from the time, as well as what the music means to them today.

“We like to think ... that there was some healing and breakthrough associated with this, but boy, there’s still a lot of pain associated with that whole experience," says Bradley, a veteran of the war. "Sometimes it takes you back to that difficult time."

Overall, Bradley and Werner agree that the process was cathartic.

"The power of music and the power of sharing the stories is the way you get by that," says Werner. "The worst situation is when it’s locked up inside, and the music has provided a situation where people can start to talk. There’s been way too little of that in the years since Vietnam.”

Werner is a music historian with the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Bradley is a Madison-based author and educator.

Charity Nebbe is the host of IPR's Talk of Iowa