The Liner/Sleeve Notes:
“Songs of Our Fighting Men – “The Green Berets”
Songs of war and of the men who fight them have long been a part of our national heritage. Yankee Doodle to the Revolutionary War; the Civil War gave birth to such stirring pieces as When Johnny Comes Marching Home and The Battle Hymn of Republic. When the American fighting forces were called upon to do battle on foreign shores during the First World War, the event was recorded by George M. Cohan in Over There.
This album of plaintive Vietnam war songs is the creation of Staff Sergeant Barry Sadler (who, incidentally, is the young trooper pictured on the cover of the AVON paperback best seller, “The Green Berets”), a combat veteran of the Vietnam war.
Sergeant Sadler is a non-commissioned officer with the “Green Berets” of the U.S. Army Special Forces. The “Green Berets” are skilled an highly trained fighting force similar to the celebrated American Rangers and the British Commandos of the Second World War. The special group within the Army carries out exacting missions beyond the scope of regular troops.
Here are the songs of men in action, sung against impending death, loneliness, despair and hardship, performed by a survivor of those experiences. Fighting men have sung their songs from the dawn of civilization; songs written on shields, battlements, helmets. Sergeant Sadler’s compositions are part of a great tradition that binds brave men together through history.
The Ballad of the Green Berets is a tribute to his buddies. There are songs of courage (Badge of Courage and Salute to the Nurses) and of irony (Garet Trooper, the familiar figure of in every army who’s long on spit and polish and very short on combat exposure); of home (Letter from Vietnam) and of family (Lullaby), and even of lighthearted moments (Bamiba). He writes and sings in the tradition of country songs of the American West, reflecting on his own personality and background; yet we’re sure that many years from now these songs of Sergeant Barry Sadler will be recalled as a true expression of the Vietnam combat soldier’s feelings during the time of that fierce encounter.
Barry Sadler is alive today only because of his rigorous training and his indomitable spirit to live. Late last spring, while leading a small combat patrol, he fell into a mantrap, and a pungi stake (a poisoned spear made of sharpened bamboo) plunged into his leg. The Sergeant, a trained medic, treated the wound which later required surgery to drain the infection. As a result of this, Sergeant Sadler carries a twelve-inch scar on his left knee. He was then evacuated to the United States to complete his recuperation. By this time he had already finished a sheaf of songs that make up the selections here.
At the time this album was released, Sergeant Sadler was on duty at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, as Medical N.C.O. for the “Green Berets.”
Contributor, Saturday Review”
Barry Sadler was a staff sergeant in the United States Army during Vietnam, he was shot in the head in in 1988 and died of his injuries in 1989. Oh, he also killed country music songwriter Lee Emerson Bellamy and only served 21 days for it.
So, the album opens with the title track of the album, “The Ballad of the Green Berets” – which is basically, a song about the Green Berets in the Vietnam war, and I’m gonna say, it’s a pretty good song. It does have some pretty good military style musicianship. It’s then followed by the track “I’m a Lucky One” – which has a 50’s sound to it, this song is about someone leaving the war after their tour of duty. It’s kind of weird that the album is so positive considering the theme of the album is war. Then comes the track “Letter from Vietnam” – which is another oddly sounding positive war song. Then it’s followed by the song “Badge of Courage” all the songs have a 50’s rock sound, but keep to that eerie pro-war theme and then it’s the fact you know Barry killed Lee Emerson, plus people in Vietnam, and then was shot himself. It makes for an all around weird experience. It’s followed by the song “Saigon” – which I’m having a hard time understanding this song, is it about Saigon or a woman? It makes no sense. The A-Side closes with the track “Salute to the Nurses” – which is a song about the nurses in Vietnam who helped send people home after the war. Still not quite sure how I feel about this album.
The B-Side opens with the track “I’m Watching the Raindrops Fall“, and well, Barry doesn’t have a bad voice or anything, and this song doesn’t have to do with war. So, it’s getting a bit better! The next song is “Garet Trooper” – which is a song / narrative about a certain type of soldier in the Vietnam war, and it’s really odd. It basically bashed every other type of soldier. The next song is “The Soldier has Come Home” – which is a slow song, and not on a very good positive side, since it’s basically about the war. I get that Barry is singing songs for the fighting men, and is a soldier himself, but could you not ease up a bit? Then comes the track “Lullaby” – which is another slow song about a man going off to war, dying and his son having to be the man of the house. Then comes the track “Troopers Lament” – which is a little more positive track, but still war-related, but hey, it’s alright. The album ends with “Bamiba” – which is a song about a soldier in jail, for getting drunk and having a fight… What did Barry see in Vietnam?
A1 – The Ballad of the Green Berets
A2 – I’m a Lucky One
A3 – Letter from Vietnam
A4 – Badge of Courage
A5 – Saigon
A6 – Salute to the Nurses
B1 – I’m Watching the Raindrops Fall
B2 – Garet Trooper
B3 – The Soldier Has Come Home
B4 – Lullaby
B5 – Trooper’s Lament
B6 – Bamiba
Studio Musicians & Other Album Credits:
Arranged & Conducted by Sid Bass
Produced by Andy Wiswell
Other Albums I Own by SSgt. Barry Sadler: