Contemporary Poems of the 1960s


1. Introduction pp.2-3

2. Interpretation of Contemporary Poems of the 1960s pp.3-9

2.1. Bob Dylan's " Blowing in the Wind" pp.3-5

2.1.1. The Song's History

2.1.2. Analysis

2.1.3. Dylan's Appeal to theReader

2.1.4. Personal View of the Song

2.2. Barry Sadler's "Ballad of the Green Beret" pp.5-7

The Song's Background / What is a " Green Beret ?" Analysis The Song's Aim: Praise the Perfect Soldier

Bob Dylan's " With God on our Side " pp.7-10 The Motto Analysis


3.1. Comparison of "Blowing in the Wind" and "Ballad of the Green Beret" pp.10-13

3.2. Comparison of " With God on our Side" and "Ballad of the Green Beret"

3.3.The Three Poems -From Patriotism to Doubts and Irony

Personal Conclusion pp.13-14

Addendum pp.15-25

5.1.Words to "Blowing in the Wind"

5.2.Words to "Ballad of the Green Beret"

5.3.Words to "With God on our Side"

5.4.The Special Forces Prayer

5.5.Bob Dylan's Biography 1941-1997

5.6.Barry Allen Sadler's Biography 1940-1989

6. Bibliography pp.26-26


The sixties-a time of change

After World War II, the American people, under Dwight D. Eisenhower's presidency, wanted peace and quiet and an end to all activism.The Eisenhower years were times of great conformity, when even the nation's youth aspired to little more than the standard pattern of material success represented by a nice car, well-behaved children, and a pleasant house in the suburbs.Rather contrastive to the ideals and ambitions of young Americans in the 50s new ideas were born in the 60s.The 60s were a time of remarkable flux and change. The social-cultural trends of the decade reflected not only the relative affluence of the post World War II period, but also the coming to maturity of a generation that was a product of that prosperity.

Many changes took place and revolutionary ideas came to birth.Several black leaders such as Malcolm X, Martin Luther King and Stockley Carmichael formed organizations like the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) or the Congress of racial equality (CORE).Aim of those Institutions and leaders was to set the black people free and to fight for equal rights for black Americans.Another Group inspired by black militancy was a group of educated women who began to assert that the American (Western ) society was male-dominated.They strongly felt that women were discriminated against in jobs and status.Just like the black civil rights activists they wanted to change the existing system to improve their status in society.

These new, radical voices were also heard among the intellectuals and the young, especially college students. Interllectually, the 50s had been a conservative decade because even for left-wing activists America in the 50s still represented the lesser of two evils compared to Russian communism, which displayed all its brutality in the downkeeping of political opposition and the Soviet invasion of Hungary ( 1956 ).

So in the early 60s, the intellectual and literary communities began to change .These cycles were now dominated by young idealists who believed that a better world was possible.

They were often university students from middle class or upper middle class families who had always enjoyed the benefits of an affluent, suburban society.Some came from conservative families and were clearly rejecting the values and ideals of former generations.

Never having known want or social insecurety, these young people felt free to take risks defying society.They refused to go along with its values.Some chose to dissent by adopting life styles that sharply differed from those of most Americans. Young men now wore their hair long and women decided to wear colorful beads and bizarre costumes.Conventional marriage and the institution of the traditional family were rejected by this new youth, they rather chose to live together informally in "communes".Furthermore, they renounced conventional careers and sought a new freedom in experimenting with psycho-active drugs such as LSD and Marijuana.

With the American intervention in Vietnam a new pacifist, anti-war oriented movement grew among the youths in America.The radical segments of the college students and other youths were completely convinced that this war was unrelievedly evil and immoral. Such anti- war activists ( " doves" ) organized peace marches and "teach-ins" at the universities to express their opposition to continuing the conflict.

The probably best-known musician and poet of this time is Bob Dylan whose songs electrified the civil rights movement, and breathed new life into the folk music genre .Therefore, my aim will be to depict two of his songs to get to know more about the revolutionary ideas of people in the 1960s/70s .Contrastive to this new youth-movement stand people like Barry Saddler who wrote the pro War, pro army " Ballad of the green Beret". Both Barry Saddler and Bob Dylan express their attitude towards life in their lyrics and music, hence my aim will be to work out crucial differences in order to learn more about


2._Interpretation of Contemporary Poems of the 1960s

2.1. Bob Dylan's "Blowing in the Wind"

2.1.1. The song's History

The inspiration for this song is believed to have come to Bob Dylan's mind one afternoon in April 1962, during a long political discussion with friends. As the conversation petered out in silence, Dylan was suddenly struck by the thought that there were severe problems in the U.S.A. of his time ,the Western world, respectively.

He had known this for a long time then and expressed his opinion towards the matter of the civil rights movement both as an artist and as an activist going out on the street. What he suddenly realized, however, was that the general public refused to see what was going wrong.. As he puts it:" The people in power refuse to look at what is happening. And the others, they ride the subways and read the Times, but they don't understand. They don't

know. They don't even care and that's the worst of it ."[1]

This frustration is expressed in his probably best known song " Blowing in the wind".

The title already suggests that people do not care to give an answer or a solution to the enormous problems. At the same time, the poem aims at making people open their eyes to the obvious problems of these times such as fully integrating blacks and women into society.

2.1.2. Analysis

The poets objective is reflected in the structure of the poem.

The poem consists of three stanzas, each of nine lines. Every stanza is structured the same way : in the first six lines Dylan is asking three rhetorical, almost unanswerable questions. The question phrases always start with the same words (..." How many ..." ), Dylan chose this parallelism as a stylistic device to put all emphasis on the questions asked, for the answer, as it is stated in the last three lines of each stanza, is "...Blowing in the wind" anyway .

Within his stanzas, Bob Dylan moves from the general to the particular. His first stanza begins with a strong opening image of a man walking down a road, which clearly relates to the civil rights marchers. Using the image of a white dove in the second question again reminds the reader of the civil rights movement. The activists were often referred to as doves, and of course everyone knew that a white dove was and still is a symbol for peace. In Dylan's eyes, people do not care about these symbols .It is not foreseeable when the "dove" and the "man" will eventually reach their aim. The Public did not even see their necessity, as they closed their eyes to the horrible state the world is in. Dylan ,on the other hand, illustrates that he sees no point in fighting and cannot understand, that cannonballs are still flying, that nobody sees a point in banning them .

As the Vietnam War is about to begin, those lines especially refer to the Vietnam War, but not solely, because Vietnam is not explicitly mentioned. This song is vague and all-encompassing and therefore it can be applied to almost any freedom issue ,at any time. Still, some metaphors and images clearly stem from the 60s .It is not absolutely necessary, though, to know them to get the message of this song.

Stanza N°2 starts off with the metaphor of a mountain being washed into the sea. Dylan chose this image because it is almost impossible to imagine the time it will take until a mountain will finally be washed into the sea. This mountain is compared to the, in the author's eyes, racist materialist, imperialist and repressive American society. It will take exactly the same time to open society's eyes to liberal ideas as it takes to wash down the mountain. Dylan implicitly wants to encourage the civil rights movement to keep on trying to make the U.S.A. a better place to live in, even if it will take an almost unimaginable long time .

As in the first stanza his second and third question are more straightforward than his philosophically disguised questions before. He then moves to the oppression of some people (..." allowed to be free"...). The following lines connect to his idea that made him write " Blowing in The Wind" : he accuses the general public of turning their heads and pretending not to see what is going wrong .

In the third stanza the author appeals to the reader not to remain in his / her lethargy, but to sharpen his / her senses to the evil of the world. This is emphasized by the application of words relating to our senses :look /see ,ears/ hear and cry /hear .

The first question urges the reader to open his eyes in order to perceive his surroundings clearly. He is to open his ears to the cries of the suppressed people and to finally realize that too many have died in vain.

2.1.3 Dylan's Appeal to the Reader

Dylan appeals to the reader's common sense by asking these obvious questions. The point Dylan wants to make is that the real problem concerning the above -mentioned questions is not answering them but asking them. Most people, he points out ,do not care about those problems and do not bother to ask such obvious questions .

Furthermore, the song is validating the concern of the youthful protest movement while absolving them from the obligation to come up with absolute answers to the problems about which they protested.

The main idea of this song is that there are no hard and fast answers, the first obligation is to care. " The way to answer those questions ," said Dylan " is by asking them. But lots of people have to first find the wind."[2]

2.1.4. Personal View

Personally, I think it is a great song, because, on the one hand it implicitly deals with the topics young revolutionaries liked to hear about ( oppression of blacks, women's role in society ) but on the other hand, because all statements are put generally, it can be applied to any freedom issue at any time.

Although Bob Dylan borrowed the tune from the old folk song " No More Auction Block "[3]

for this song, " Blowing in The Wind " marked a huge jump in Bob Dylan's songwriting, because it remains the song with which Dylan's name is most inextricably linked. It safeguarded his reputation as civil rights libertarian through any number of changes in style and attitude.

2.2 Barry Sadler's "Ballad of the Green Beret"

2.2.1. The Song's Background / What is a Green Beret ?

Before taking a look at Barry Sadler's lyrics it is necessary to explain what exactly is a Green Beret .They are a " breed apart, a cut above the rest, fighters of uncommon mental and physical caliber. Mature, highly skilled, and superbly trained, they are ready to serve anywhere at any time."[4]

They are usually referred to as the absolute elite within the army. Deployed on every continent, operating in remote areas under Spartan conditions, they also often train their allies to defend themselves against tyranny and oppression .

A member of the U.S. special forces should always remain devoted to their Latin motto, "De Oppresso Liber "-To free the oppressed .[5]

Because President Kennedy felt that since they had a special mission, Special Forces should have something to set them apart from the rest, he authorized the beret as a part of the Special Forces uniform in 1961.The Green Berets also took part in the Vietnam War .[6]

Army Staff Sergeant Barry Saddler helped write " The Ballad of the Green Berets " while recuperating from a leg wound suffered during his service as a medic in the Vietnam War. He later sang the tune on a record that became the nation's N° 1 hit for five weeks in 1966 and eventually sold 9 million singles and albums.[7]It then became a popular anthem for the special forces. Ballad Of the Green Beret was a great inspiration and source of pride to many Americans serving in an unpopular war.

2.2.2. Analysis

Formally, this text is subdivided into 4 stanzas consisting of four lines and a chorus, which is sung after each paragraph exept for the fourth and fifth paragraph.

In the first stanza, the green berets are described as " fighting soldiers from the sky " (l.1) who do not fear anything, not even facing death, as they are men with a mission. Furthermore, Sadler puts emphasis on the special mental caliber of those men, and highlights their honesty and decisiveness .( "Men who mean just what they say", " fearless men ")

The chorus is a very important part of this song as it is repeated twice. We learn about the Special Force's insignia, namely the silver wings upon the soldiers' chests. Ssgt. Sadler -in the chorus as throughout the song - wants to encourage the members of the Special Forces to take pride in what they are doing. In his eyes these soldiers are worthy being called "America's best"

( l.6 ). Only those who prove to live up to the standards the Special Forces request can once wear a Green Beret. Sadler underlines the outstanding requirement standards they have to meet and the tough training the soldiers have to undergo in ll.7/8 : "one hundred men will test today, only three win the green beret".

The extraordinary training will lead them fighting for America, or from Ssgt Sadler's patriotic angle " for freedom's land ".This statement goes along with the motto of the Special Forces : to free the oppressed .

The third paragraph also mentions the camaraderie between the soldiers, they will fight " hand in hand ".So here another requirement is to be noticed: these soldiers need not only be at 100% physical fitness but also need to fit in neatly with the rest of the service members .

Men such as the Green Berets will not hesitate to sacrifice their own lives .They make it possible for others to enjoy their personal freedom due to their resentless efforts to fight for " a better day " ( l.11 ) .

Death is seen as the ultimate sacrifice for a man's country. Dying for ideals is described as very heroic. ( "Fearless men ,jump and die ")

Sadler uses many repetitions throughout his song. What struck me most was the repetition of the word " die " which describes Sadler's opinion on death in the battlefield. The martyr-motif is repeated again and again.

Sadler implies that the Green Berets are more than men. They could rather be described as ultimate war machines who have even overcome the human fear of dying.

The fifth and sixth stanza tell the story of a brave Green Beret who has " met his fate ", died in combat

. He died for his young wife who is waiting at home, so she will once see " a better day". These lines are very interesting when seen in context with the Vietnam War. In the U.S.A. of the 1960s the so called " Domino Theory " was very popular. It stated that if one country would become communist-ruled the other neighboring countries would sooner or later become communist, too. From the American point of view, communism was regarded as evil and oppressing, so they did not want the rest of the world to be communist .For both their and America's sake, they intervened in Vietnam[8]. With this background-information in mind, the significance of the sentence : " he has died so that she may live " becomes clear. In order to maintain the democratic order in the western world, men like the green berets have to die, so that our world would not fall into communist suppression.

This Beret of course stands exemplary for the rest of the corps .

The only request he left his wife was to make his son " one of America's best ". He is to be made a Green Beret as well. The dead soldier wanted his wife to give the little boy the right education in order to win the green beret some day. Here, a vicious cycle is no be noticed. Sadler's opinion towards dying is blurred : He thinks it is a great thing to die for his country. One day the young boy will probably meet his fate as well.

2.2.3 The Aim of the Song :Praise of the Perfect Soldier

Basically, this song portrays a perfect breed of soldier, of almost superhuman virtue, fearlessly fighting to free all the people suffering from the chains a dictator somewhere tied around their feet.

As this song was written during the Vietnam War it is obvious that this song is highly political and that the author approves of warfare ( " fighting soldiers " ). The text wants the average American to take pride in his Special Forces, because they " will die so that they can live ". It is evident to the author that wars need to be fought for the sake of a democratic, free America and therefore a free Western world. He successfully addresses to people's feelings in the times of the Cold War, where everyone feared a Russian airstrike. He talks of young wives waiting at home who have to cope with the loss of their husbands because they lost their lives in combat for an American nation. I figure that many Americans were glad that such "fearless men " existed. The song is the n° 21 song of the 1960-1969 rock era and managed to stay n° 1 for five weeks in 1966. [9]

This song does not judge of wars in a critical way whatsoever. It is not very objective, either. It plainly praises the active members of the U.S.S.F.. The text states that the Green Berets are weapons against injustice. Therefore Sadler sees no point in condemning warfare, he goes even further and glorifies the inhuman death in the battlefield.

Sadler's aim was to motivate the troops in Vietnam and to get some positive feedback for their mission. This song does not intend to be critical, on the contrary, its aim is to stir peoples' emotions.

2.3. Bob Dylan's " With God on Our Side "

2.3.1. The Motto : "In God we trust"

" God's own country ", this is a popular name the Americans gave their country. On the outside, American everyday -life and religiousness are tightly interwoven. Even the American Dollar-bills state it : " In God we trust". In the past, whenever there was the discussion in America, whether to mobilize the army or not, fighting for God was a good argument .

In this well -known protest song of the 60s,Dylan conducts the experiment of critically commentating the Americans and their relationship to God.


This poem consists of nine paragraphs, each one consisting of four lines. As a narrator from the Midwest, which played a crucial part in the development of the United States, Dylan guides the reader through American history. The first seven stanzas deal with wars in which one side thought that God was on their side .The last two stanzas could be described as a conclusion the narrator arrives at : It is the statement that if " God is on our side, he'll stop the next war"- the clear opposite of what God was evidently to stand for in the described history.

The poet starts with the very beginning of the American nation ( first two stanzas ). The first two lines give a rather ironic characterization of a typical Midwesterner, when saying " my name it means nothing and my name it means less, thus Dylan gives a description of a person from the Midwest who lacks any personality and individuality. These lines are ironic because they stand in direct contrast to what the Midwest symbolizes. In the very beginning of the American nation, the Midwest was the region from which America expanded westward .On the frontier there were no rules a person had to obey and nothing to restrict his movement. So out in the wilderness of the American Midwest, you could not afford to be one of many, you had to stand up for your own. Even today, people from the Midwest claim this spirit has survived.[10]In the eyes of the poet, however, individualism is wiped out, because the individuals have become victims of conformity.

The narrator is a typical product of his country and the country's values (.."I was taught and brought up there... "). His opinion and beliefs were formed through his education (the laws to abide ), and therefore he represents the average American. He learned and obviously seems to believe that his country has always got " God on its side ".

The second paragraph retells the story of the American fight against the Indians. Again, irony is used to illustrate the misleading information the history books give : " they tell it so well "what happened during those fights. The following lines suggest that the fight between Indians and Americans was unfair and brutal. Dylan uses a parallelism to express the tempo in which Indians were shot in such battles : The lines six and seven are the same except for the last words, first Indians " fell " and then directly " died".

Although the fight against the Indians could easily be described as an American invasion of foreign territory, the narrator tells us that his young country had "God on its side ".

Without going into details, he mentions the Spanish-American War of 1895[11]and the Civil War in the third paragraph. Here, Dylan probably wants to point out that in the short history of the U.S. so many wars have been fought that they need not be discussed at great length. The only thing the average American needs to know are the names of the heroes, the narrator " was made to memorize ".Those who have the guns in their hands have God on their side. With this sharp contrast, (" guns in their hands, God on their side " ) Dylan stresses the ambiguity of the idea that God is on the side of the fighting Americans. We learn that they, too had God on their side, even if they had " guns in their hands " to kill. Both wars were officially fought for idealistic reasons, but if you take a closer look it becomes evident that it was not like this .

Many Americans saw the Spanish -American war as an opportunity for American imperialism, although it was stated that the American troops were sent to Cuba to stop brutal killings. Slavery certainly was an issue over which was fought in the Civil War but basically it was fought for economic reasons.[12]So the actual reasons for those wars were not quite of moral nature, mostly they were fought for financial reasons .Dylan wants to point out that the reasons for the wars mentioned are futile, no matter what kind of pretext they were officially fought over.

In the fourth stanza, Dylan makes the narrator indifferently and shockingly short sum up the first World War, which " came and went". Although he could never quite figure out why it was fought, he learned to accept the fighting and dying in a war that is considered the probably bloodiest war, ever [13].But more than that, he learned to accept " it with pride ", because he was taught that God was on his nation's side. Therefore he did not see a reason in counting the dead .

The fifth paragraph then deals with what happened in the relations between allied forces and Germans after World War II. Although the Germans, as Dylan puts it in an unbelievably brutal image, have " murdered six million, in the ovens they fried ", now too have God on their side. Those who have fought all their wars in the name of God namely the Americans, are eventually friends with the murderous Germans of once .

This is for some simple reasons : After World War II, the German Government became democratic and therefore was opposed to Russian Communism. The Germans have therefore accepted the American set of political values, hence have God on their side ( in form of the U.S.! ).

The sixth paragraph depicts the Cold War between the Western Union and the Eastern-Russian Union. Due to the ideological brainwashing the narrator is ready to fight the Russians in a war ( " to hate them and to fear them " ), always with the certainty in mind that the Almighty is on his side. Therefore he will bravely accept it all. He has learned to hate Russians all his life. It is thus emphasized that hate is not an emotion that a person develops out of his own judgement, but something he is " taught ". His own critical ideas are eliminated.

The seventh paragraph deals with a possible nuclear war, thus bringing the enumeration of wars to the ultimate. This peak is expressed by the words " but now ", indicating its significance within wars .Compared to the other wars, the author has referred to, this seems the very terrible end. This idea is emphasized by the thought that one " push of the button " will eventually destroy the world. Again, this war is likely to be fought by those who are told what to do and do it in blind obedience ( " If fire them we're forced to, then fire them we must " ). Therefore, the mental attitude of having God on one's side when killing other human beings will doubtless lead to the end of all civilization.

Having considered the complete military history, as he was taught in school, from the conquest of the native Indians, then the Mexicans and Confederates, on through two world wars, up to the point where his country trembles on the brink of a nuclear war with Russia, the narrator now comes to a conclusion in the two last stanzas.

These two last stanzas form a contrast because here, the narrator really starts to " think ". This thought process puts him in a dark mood : " In many a dark hour ... "

He reflects that Jesus Christ, himself, was betrayed by a kiss" .He realizes that God himself was betrayed by what seemed full of love and goodness on the outside : a kiss. Thus he draws the parallel to those who outwardly have the good, " God on their side ". In reality, however, this is not love and goodness but evil itself .

Judas Iscariot in this stanza takes the role the U.S. took in the paragraphs before. He betrayed God by his deeds, and therefore it is suggested that the United States by their deeds betray God, although claiming to have him on their side.

Judas Iscariot like the U.S., however, betrayed God so he could not possibly have had God on his side.

Considering this, the narrator is confused and "weary as hell ". He comes to the conclusion that God has never been on the side of nations fighting wars but, on the contrary, on the side of those who try to avoid wars ( " he' ll stop the next war " )

The narrator's conclusion remains personal, though. " Each reader is to use his own brain. He is not to accept everything he is told. The author does not want his readers to be uncritical. He rather wants the insight that eventually struck him to be thought over by each individual reader for himself ( " I can't think for you ").

The author consciously puts himself into contrast to those who just make people blindly believe, what they are saying. Hence, this song displays a thought process the narrator is going through, a development which ends in the conclusion that " if God is on our side he 'll stop the next war".


3.1. Comparison of "Blowing in the wind" and "Ballad of the Green Beret"

3.1.1 "Ballad of the Green Beret"/ Glorification of Soldiers/ Death as a Sacrifice

As illustrated above, Barry Sadler's song is a very patriotic one .It approves of any means the American nation would have to take in the fight for American ideals, especially warfare. Its aim is the glorification of soldiers fighting for democracy, first and foremost in Vietnam. The Vietnam War was a very unpopular war, so this song was written for service members who believed that their fight in Vietnam was right. Sadler wanted to encourage the men of the Green Berets on their ungrateful mission. With his ballad he gave them a source of pride. Hence, this song does not convey any criticism of warfare or anything connected to it, whatsoever.

The probably most striking fact is the attitude towards death displayed in his song. Because the Green Berets, according to Sadler, are on a mission, death for this mission is a heroic sacrifice ( .. " he has died so she may live .."). Therefore, the exemplary Green Beret in Sadler's song wants his son to become a Green Beret, even if this means dying. Here, a vicious cycle is to be noticed, fueled by fanatic patriotism.

3.1.2. "Blowing in the Wind" : Frustration With Society

Bob Dylan wrote " Blowing in the wind " while being totally frustrated with the American society. As mentioned before he was not very content with several issues in American politics, especially freedom issues. He felt that, even in the U.S .A., not all people were equally equipped with rights .His intention was to support the Civil Rights Movement and to pour salt into the wounds of the American society, to make the general public more aware of current problems.

3.1.3. Fundamental Differences Between the Two Songs

It becomes evident that the two songs differ widely from each other .They stand for different idealistic approaches in the American society in the 1960s. This already shows as early as in the structure of the texts.

In itself striking is the stylistic means of an enumeration of questions we find in Dylan's " Blowing in the wind ". By repeatedly using questions, he conveys his doubts that everything is working out in his society. In Ballad of the Green Beret, however, no doubts about the American/Western society are expressed. Thus, not questions but statements prevail ( "fearless men who jump and die, these are men, America's best ").

Sadler obviously holds the view that the American system is superior to all others, otherwise he would not support the fighting and killing for American ideas .He does not question the American society, he approves of it ("freedom's land...")

Dylan, by asking questions, wants the readers to think about the shortcomings of their society and therefore eventually change it gradually ("How many years must a mountain exist ") .

The tone of " Ballad of the Green Beret " is cheerful, encouraging, optimistic and patriotic, (" fighting hand -to-hand ", "make him one of America's best").The tone of Dylan's song is diametrically opposed. Not a single question asked is answered.. The poet seems to be frustrated that there are no answers to his questions in society. He aims at putting the reader in a contemplating, sad mood .He wants to activate the reader's will to change things, but first of all, he tries to stir them and make them sensitive of problems. Sadler, on the other hand, wants to stabilize the status quo.

Both songs deal with freedom and oppression. It gets very obvious that Dylan and Sadler have different definitions of those terms. " Ballad of the Green Beret " only discusses the problem of people in other countries than the U.S., who are suffering from dictators and especially from communism. The idea of a Green Beret dying for those oppressed implies that there is no oppression or injustice whatsoever in the U.S.A..

Dylan's song, on the other hand, deals with freedom issues in general, but also points a finger at things not working out in the United States of his time ( "...before it is washed into the sea .."). He recognizes injustices within the U.S.A.. This criticism is not outspoken and direct, though. By using metaphorical language ( "white dove ", man walking down the street) it is rather hidden.

Sadler, a true Green Beret " means just what he says. He uses clear symbols everyone can easily understand. Dylan's images are more in-depth and require some time to be properly understood .

Sadler stresses the idea of a group with one goal they all want to achieve ( " fighting men", "men who jump and die" etc.). He always uses the plural form, none of them is not consistent with the given aims. Dylan, however, mostly talks of people in singular form ( " must a man walk down "), he stresses individualism and thinking for one self .In the Special Forces, there would not be any room for individual, critical thinking, only for standing in line with the others.

Most striking of all is the difference when talking of death. For Sadler, death is a necessity in the fight for a democratic world, whereas Dylan doe s not see any point in fighting at all. He condemns fighting and even dying for ideals. Sadler's opinion of warfare is also widely differing from Dylan's. Sadler approves of it ( " men who fight and die "), whereas Dylan thinks that " too many have died ".

"Ballad of the Green Beret "only accepts one view of the situation in the sixties: the U.S.A. are right with whatever they are doing, even if they are involved in wars, even if their men have to die. Sadler thinks all this is necessary to guarantee freedom to the American nation.

Dylan has rather got a different opinion .

He holds the view that war -no matter what it is fought for - is immoral and evil. Dylan desperately tries to wake up people and the world to realize that there is no sense in killing and dying. He wants them to realize that there are still people in the U.S. ( women, ethnic minorities e.g. blacks) who cannot enjoy all freedoms the Green Berets claim fighting for.

3.2. Comparison of "With God on our Side" and" Ballad of the Green Beret"

3.1.2. " With God on our Side "- A critical review of American military history

Bob Dylan's song critically reviews the military history of the American nation. After having thought about the wars fought and the wars still to come, the narrator finally comes to the conclusion that God cannot possibly be on his nation's side, although always stated by its


Dylan takes the role of an American innocent who at first believes everything he was taught in school .After having given an enumeration of wars, he starts to do some thinking and then finally realizes that there has got to be a difference between what he was told about the objectives of American military actions, fighting on God's behalf, and reality.

3.2.2. Different Attitudes

Both " Ballad of the Green Beret" and " With God on our Side " deal with the American military forces yet from totally different angles.

In his song, Sadler portrays a perfect soldier. He describes heroes in uniform fighting for "freedom's land". The author gives an outward description of the U.S. Special Forces in combat.

Dylan's song illustrates a thought process the narrator goes through. Here, the emphasis lies on a personal experience .The author uses this to make it possible for many people to identify with the narrator and therefore come to the same conclusion. The conclusion is : God is not on the side of nations fighting wars.

While " Ballad of the Green Beret " states that the Green Berets are fighting for freedom and against suppression, " With God on our Side " reveals the real reasons for fighting. Dylan picked out wars in which the reasons for combat were mostly for reasons of financial nature. He wants to express his feeling that, again, there's a gap between things told and reality.

Sadler's song glorifies American soldiers as brave and fearless men, immaculate in character.

The same soldiers that are glorified in Sadler's anthem, are made fun of in Dylan's song. He sarcastically calls the soldiers who cruelly have killed Indians and Spaniards heroes. In this context, it becomes evident that Dylan's slaughtering men cannot have God on their side and that they are not really suitable idols.

The first stanzas of " With God on our Side" illustrate the official interpretation of American military heritage, which are very alike the clichés Sadler presents of the American soldiers.

The tone of both texts is very different. Unlike the patriotic, uncritical " Ballad of the Green Beret ", "With God on our Side " conveys a severe criticism by using sarcastic, bitterly ironic even aggressive expressions ( You don't count the dead with God on your side " / Six millions in the ovens they fried " / If God is on our side, he'll stop the next war ) .

"With God ..." not only conveys general criticism of warfare, but Dylan especially points out the horrors of the American past that are usually employed to glorify great achievements.

The Special Forces refer to God as the " Champion of the oppressed" in their prayer and acknowledge their dependence on him. Dylan refers exactly to the attitude conveyed in those lines when saying that the American army claims fighting on God's behalf. "Ballad of the Green Berets " contains all the statements Dylan revolts against : namely America has always got God on its side, soldiers are heroes and wars are necessary to obtain a free Western world.

Dylan unmistakingly makes it clear that -in theory- God and War are two things that do not go along well with each other, yet in reality are closely linked. ( see prayer of Green Berets).

3.3 The Three Poems - From Patriotism to Doubts and Irony

Having analyzed these three poems and the ideas conveyed, it is quite obvious that one can see a development : Sadler's poem stands like a rock with ist positive, idealistic patriotism. In " Blowing in the Wind" this " rock" is attacked by doubts and questions, yet no answers are given.

This changes, however, in " With God on our side: Here, a definitive answer is given : the clear, outspoken message is " stop the next war! ". Dylan has thus lost the vagueness and doubt of " Blowing in the Wind" and is just as outspoken as is Sadler in " Ballad of the Green Berets".

4. Personal Conclusion

4.1. Working with the Texts

I rather enjoyed analyzing the texts above, because they offered me an insight into the society of the sixties and especially on some revolutionary ideas young people had in this decade.

Since the texts, both " Ballad of the Green Beret " and Dylan's texts deal especially with the American society, I learned a lot about the different political attitudes one could find in the U.S.A., and how much they could clash. There were still many people who could be described as conservative, represented by Sadler's Song. On the other hand ,there were many youths and students who felt that a change of traditional structures was necessary. Bob Dylan's songs very much express their feelings in his songs.

This movement in the sixties was very powerful. The movement itself brought many changes in everyday life we still witness today. The influence of the new voices that were heard in music generally changed peoples' approach to popular music.( see 5.5.)

Adults often deplored the new youth culture. They saw it as a hostile counter culture that foolishly rejected the accumulated wisdom and taste of the Western society. Adults noted the flight to drugs, astrology, witchcraft, the occult, and other fads as a rejection by the counter culture of even the basic Western value of reason and rationality. But this powerful protest movement also had some influence : adult fashions, for example, were strongly influenced by the clothes of the young .The political styles of the young radicals ranged from anarchist to Stalinist, to Trotskyist, to Maoist, representing every conceivable shade of leftism. Some thought it possible to effect change within the existing constitutional system. Some believed only violent revolution could improve America. But they all were consistent with the idea of pacifism and that every war is inhumane.

Then there were conservative people who felt that the American, the democratic system is superior to all others, because, the people within the system were free to do whatever they liked. Therefore, it could not possibly be wrong to fight wars for these humane ideals .

All in all I got a rather detailed picture of the American society in the 60s. I have a lot of respect for the youths who dared to revolt against the constituted state, to stand up for their ideals such as personal freedom, equality and pacifism. This new approach to society made the world I live in a lot more comfortable for a young man of 18. The movement broke every rule which then existed, from clothes to political tendency, and made society more tolerant of liberal ideas.

Especially Bob Dylan made a big change in music. In the 50s/60s music was merely to entertain. Bob Dylan was the first person to make criticism of present structures and music compatible. But not only that, he was the one who brought his message to the masses and not only to the revolutionary-intellectual cycles of his time.

4.2. Has anything changed?

Our society has surely improved in some points compared to the 60s. Many things changed because of this youth movement which set sail to take hold of the Old World as well.

It has to be mentioned, though, that there are still countries in the world which needed such a phase of " liberal enlightenment", more urgently than the U.S. needed it in the 60s. There is still oppression in our world today. Everyday, people are slaughtered e.g. in Iran or in Kosovo ,directly on our doorstep. The problems of unfreedom, not having the right to have an opinion differing from the mass-opinion still exists. Not in the Western world, but in other regions the spirit of oppression is still alive. A shift of problems has taken place.

For people oppressed, the U.S. is and have always been " freedoms land " (B. Sadler), but for U.S. citizens, used to having undeniable democratic rights, the United States of America still could appear repressive .

So Sadler's and Bob Dylan's ideas are still up to date. Up to now we can see conservative, patriotic ideas clash with those who take a more critical ,distant attitude and want to improve an existing system.


Blowing in the wind

How many roads must a man walk down

before they call him a man?

How many seas must a white dove sail

before she sleeps in the sand?

How many times must the cannon balls fly

before they're forever banned?

The answer my friend,

is blowing in the wind.

The answer is blowing in the wind.

How many years must a mountain exist

before it is washed to the sea?

How many years can some people exist

before they're allowed to be free?

How many times can a man turn his head

and pretend that he just doesn't see?

The answer my friend,

is blowing in the wind.

The answer is blowing in the wind.

How many times must a man look up

before he can see the sky?

How many ears must one man have

before he can hear people cry?

How many deaths will it take 'til he knows

that too many people have died?

The answer my friend,

is blowing in the wind.

The answer is blowing in the wind.

Bob Dylan

5.2. Ballad Of the Green Berets

Fighting soldiers from the sky

Fearless men who jump and die

Men who mean just what they say

The brave men of the Green Beret


Silver wings upon their chest

These are men, America's best

One hundred men will test today

But only three win the Green Beret

Trained to live off nature's land [14]Trained to fight for freedom's land

Trained in combat, hand-to-hand Trained in combat hand to hand

Men who fight by night and day They will die for a better day

Courage peak from the Green Berets Those brave men of the Green Beret


Back at home a young wife waits

Her Green Beret has met his fate

He has died for those oppressed

Leaving her his last request

"Put silver wings on my son's chest

Make him one of America's best

He'll be a man they'll test one day

Have him win the Green Beret"

Barry Sadler

5.3. With God On Our SideOh, my name it is nothing, my age it means lessThe country I come from is called the MidwestI was taught and brought up there, the laws to abide

And that the land I live in has God on its side

Oh, the history books tell it, they tell it so well

The cavalry charged and the Indians fell

The cavalry charged and the Indians died

Oh the country was young then, with God on its side

The Spanish-American war had its day

And the Civil War too was soon laid away

And the names of the heroes I was made to memorize

With guns in their hands and God on their side

Oh, the first World War, well it came and it went

And the reason for fighting I never did get

But I learned to accept it, accept it with pride

For you don't count the dead with God on your side

When the second World War came to an end

We forgave the Germans and then we were friends

Though they murdered six million, in the ovens they fried

The Germans now too have God on their side

I've learned to hate Russians all through my whole life

If another war comes, it's them we must fight

To hate them and fear them, to run and to hide

And accept it all bravely with God on our side

But now we've got weapons of the chemical dust

If fire them we're forced to, then fire them we must

One push of the button and a shot the world wide

And you never ask questions with God on your side

In many a dark hour I've been thinking about this

That Jesus Christ was betrayed by a kiss

But I can't think for you, you'll have to decide

Whether Judas Iscariot had God on his side

So now as I'm leaving, I'm weary as hell

The confusion I'm feeling, ain't no tongue can tell

The words fill my head and fall to the floor

If God's on our side, He'll stop the next war

5.4. The Special Forces Prayer

Almighty God Who art the Author of Liberty and the Champion of the oppressed hear our prayer.

We the men of Special Forces, acknowledge our dependence upon Thee in the preservation of human freedom. Go with us as we seek to defend the defenseless and to free the enslaved.

May we ever remember that our nation, whose oath "in God We Trust," expects that we shall requit ourselves with honor, that we may never bring shame upon our faith, our families, or our fellow men.

Grant us wisdom from Thy mind, courage from Thine heart, and protection by Thine hand. It is for Thee that we do battle, and to thee belongs the victor's crown. For Thine is the kingdom, and the power and glory forever,



Bob Dylan's influence on popular music is incalculable. As a songwriter, he pioneered several different schools of pop songwriting, from confessional singer/songwriter to winding, hallucinatory, stream-of-conscious narratives. As a vocalist, he broke down the notions that in order to perform, a singer had to have a conventionally good voice, thereby redefining the role of vocalist in popular music. As a musician, he sparked several genres of pop music, including electrified folk-rock and country-rock. And that just touches on the tip of his achievements. Dylan's force was evident during his height of popularity in the '60s, the Beatles' shift toward introspective songwriting in the mid-'60s never would have happened without him, but his influence echoed throughout several subsequent generations. Many of his songs became popular standards, and his best albums were undisputed classics of the rock and roll canon.

Dylan's influence throughout folk music was equally powerful, and he marks a crucial turning point in its 20th-century evolution, signifying when the genre moved away from traditional songs and toward personal songwriting. Even when his sales declined in the '80s and '90s, Dylan's presence was calculable.

For a figure of such substantial influence, Dylan came from humble beginnings. Born in Duluth, Minnesota, Bob Dylan (b. Robert Allen Zimmerman, May 24, 1941) was raised in Hibbing, Minnesota from the age of six. As a child he learned how to play guitar and harmonica, forming a rock and roll band called the Golden Chords when he was in high school. Following his graduation in 1959, he began studying art at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. While at

college, he began performing folk songs at coffeehouses under the name Bob Dylan, taking his last name from the poet Dylan Thomas. Already inspired by Hank Williams and Woody Guthrie, Dylan began listening to blues while at college, and the genre weaved its way into his music. Dylan spent the summer of 1960 in Denver, where he met bluesman Jesse Fuller, the inspiration behind the songwriter's signature harmonica rack and guitar.

By the time he returned to Minneapolis in the fall, he had grown substantially as a performer and was determined to become a professional musician.

Dylan made his way to New York City in January of 1961, immediately making a substantial impression on the folk community of Greenwich Village. He began visiting his idol Guthrie in the

hospital, where he was slowly dying from Huntington's chorea. Dylan also began performing in coffeehouses, and his rough charisma won him a significant following. In April, he opened for John Lee Hooker at Gerde's Folk City. Five months later, Dylan performed another concert at the venue, which was reviewed positively by Robert Shelton in the New York Times. Columbia and R man John Hammond sought out Dylan on the strength of the review, and signed the songwriter in the fall of 1961.

Hammond produced Dylan's eponymous debut album (released in March 1962), a collection of folk and blues standards that boasted only two original songs. Over the course of 1962, Dylan began to write a large batch of original songs, many of which were political protest songs in the vein of his Greenwich contemporaries.

These songs were showcased on his second album, The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan. Before its release, Freewheelin' went through several incarnations. Dylan had recorded a rock and roll single, "Mixed Up Confusion" at the end of 1962, but his manager Albert Grossman made sure the record was deleted because he wanted to present Dylan as an acoustic folkie.

Similarly, several tracks with a full backing band that were recorded for Freewheelin' were scrapped before the album's release. Furthermore, several tracks recorded for the album -- including " Talking John Birch Society Blues" were eliminated from the album before its release.

Comprised entirely of original songs, The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan made a huge impact in the

US folk community, and many performers began covering songs from the album. Of

these, the most significant were Peter, Paul and Mary, who made "Blowin' in the Wind" into a huge pop hit in the summerr of 1963 and thereby made Bob Dylan into a recognizable name. On the strength of Peter, Paul and Mary's cover and his opening gigs for popular folkie Joan Baez, Freewheelin' became a hit in the fall of 1963, climbing to number 23 on the charts. By that

point, Baez and Dylan had become romantically involved, and she was beginning to record his songs frequently. Dylan was writing just as fast, and was performing hundreds of concerts a year.

By the time The Times They Are A-Changin' was released in early 1964, Dylan's songwriting had developed far beyond that of his New York peers. Heavily inspired by poets like Arthur Rimbaud and John Keats, his writing took on a more literate and evocative quality. Around the same time, he began to expand his musical boundaries, adding more blues and R &B influences to his songs. Released in the fall of 1964, Another Side of Bob Dylan made these changes evident. However, Dylan was moving faster than his records could indicate. By the end of 1965, he had ended his romantic relationship with Baez and had begun dating a former model named Sara Lowndes.

Simultaneously, he gave the Byrds" Mr. Tambourine Man " to record for their debut album. The Byrds gave the song a ringing, electric arrangement, but by the time the single became a hit, Dylan was already exploring his own brand of folk-rock. Inspired by the British Invasion, particularly the Animals' version of " House of the Rising Sun"

Dylan recorded a set of original songs backed by a loud rock & roll band for his next album. While Bringing It All Back Home (March1965) still had a side of acoustic material, it made clear that Dylan had turned his back on folk music. For the folk audience, the true breaking point arrived a few months after the album's release, when he played the Newport Folk Festival supported by the Paul Butterfield Blues Band. The audience greeted him with vicious derision, but he had already been accepted by the growing rock and roll community, as well as the mainstream press, who were fascinated by his witty, surreal and caustic press conferences.

Dylan's spring tour of Britain was the basis for D.A. Pennebaker's documentary Don't Look Back, a film that captures the songwriter's edgy charisma and charm.

Dylan made his breakthrough to the pop audience in the summer of 1965, when " Like a

Rolling Stone" became a number two hit. Driven by a circular organ riff and a steady beat, the six-minute single broke the barrier of the three-minute pop single. Dylan became the subject of innumerable articles, and his lyrics became the subject of literary analyzations across the US and UK. Well over 100 artists covered his songs between 1964 and 1966; the Byrds and the Turtles, in

particular, had big hits with his compositions.

Highway 61 Revisited, his firstfull-fledged rock & roll album, became a Top Ten hit upon its fall 1965 release.

"Positively 4th Street" and "Rainy Day Women #12 and

35" became Top Ten hits in the fall of 1965 and spring of 1966, respectively. Following the May 1966 release of the double-album Blonde on Blonde, he had sold over 10 million records around the world. During the

fall of 1965, Dylan hired the Hawks, formerly Ronnie Hawkins' backing group, as his touring band. The Hawks, who changed their name to the Band in 1968, would become Dylan's most famous backing band, primarily because of their intuitive chemistry and " wild, thin mercury sound" but also because of their British tour in the spring of 1966, The tour was the first time Britain had

heard the electric Dylan, and their reaction was disagreeable and violent. At the tour's penultimate date -- usually referred to as the Royal Albert Hall concert, but generally acknowledged to have occurred in Manchester - an audience member called Dylan "Judas" inspiring a positively vicious

version of " Like a Rolling Stone" from the Band. The performance was immortalized on bootleg albums, and it indicates the intensity of Dylan in the middle of 1966. He had assumed control of Pennebaker's second Dylan documentary.

He then was under deadline to complete his book Tarantula, as well

As to record a new record. Following the British tour, he returned to America.

On July 29, 1966, he was injured in a motorcycle accident outside of his home in Woodstock, New York home, suffering injuries to his neck vertebrae and a concussion. Details of the accident remain elusive -- he was reportedly in critical condition for a week and had amnesia -- and some biographers have questioned its severity, but the event was a tturning point in hi career. After the accident, Dylan became a recluse, disappearing into his home in Woodstock and raising his family with his wife, Sara.

After a few months, he retreated with the Band to a rented house, subsequently dubbed Big Pink, in Bearsville to record a number of demos. For several months, Dylan and the Band recorded an enormous amount of material, ranging from old folk, country and blues songs to newly-written originals. The songs indicated that Dylan's songwriting had undergone a metamorphosis, becoming streamlined and more direct.

Similarly, his music had changed, owing less to traditional rock & roll, and demonstrating heavy country, blues and traditional folk influences. None of the Big Pink recordings were intended to be released, but tapes from the sessions were circulated by Dylan's music publisher with the intent of generating cover versions. Copies of these tapes, as well as other songs, were available on

illegal bootleg albums by the end of the '600s; it was the first time that bootleg copies of unreleased recordings became widely circulated. Portions of the tapes were officially released in 1975 as the double-album The BasementTapes.

While Dylan was in seclusion, rock & roll had become heavier and artier in the wake of the psychedelic revolution. When Dylan returned with John Wesley Harding in December of 1967, its quiet, country ambience was a surprise to the general public, but it was a significant hit, peaking at number two in the US and number one in the UK. Furthermore, the record arguably became the first significant country-rock record to be released, setting the stage for efforts by the Byrds and the Flying Burrito Brothers later in 1968. Dylan followed his country inclinations on his next album, 1969's Nashville Skyline, which was recorded in Nashville with several of the country industry's top session men.

While the album was a hit, spawning the Top 10 single" Lay Lady Lay" it was criticized in some quarters for uneven material. The mixed reception was the beginning of a full-blown backlash that arrived with the double-album, Self Portrait. Released early in 1970, the album was a mixture of covers, live tracks, re-interpretations and new songs greeted with vicious reviews from all quarters of the press. Dylan followed the album quickly with

New Morning, which was hailed as a comeback. Following the release of New

Morning, Dylan began to wander restlessly. In 1971, he moved back to Greenwich Village, published Tarantula for the first time, and performed at the Concert for Bangladesh; it would be his only live performance in the first half of the decade.

During 1972, he began his acting career by playing Alias in Sam Peckinpah's Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, which was released in 1973.

He also wrote the soundtrack for the film, which featured " Knockin' on Heaven's

Door" his biggest hit since "Lay Lady Lay" .The Pat Garrett

soundtrack was the final record released under his Columbia contract before he moved to David Geffen's fledgling Asylum Records. As retaliation, Columbia assembled Dylan, a collection of Self Portrait outtakes, for release at the end of 1973. Dylan only recorded one album, 1974's Planet Waves - coincidentally his first number one album -- before he moved back to Columbia.

The Band supported Dylan on Planet Waves and its accompanying tour, which became the most successful tour in rock and roll history; it was captured on 1974's double-live album, Before the Flood. Dylan's 1974 tour was the beginning of a comeback culminated by 1975's Blood on the Tracks. Largely inspired by the disintegration of his marriage, Blood on the Tracks was hailed as a return to form by critics and it became his second number one album. After jamming with folkies in Greenwich Village, Dylan decided to launch a gigantic tour, loosely based on travelling medicine shows. Lining up an extensive list of supporting musicians, including Joan Baez, Jonie Mitchell, Rambling Jack Elliott, Arlo Guthrie, Mick Ronson, Roger McGuinn, and poet Allen Ginsberg. Dylan dubbed the

tour the Rolling Thunder Revue and set out on the road in the fall of 1975. For the next year, the Rolling Thunder Revue toured on and off, with Dylan filming many of the concerts for a future film. During the tour, Desire was released to considerable acclaim and success, spending five weeks on the top of the charts.

Throughout the Rolling Thunder Revue, Dylan showcased "Hurricane" a protest song he had written about boxer Rubin Carter, who had been unjustly imprisoned for murder. The live album Hard Rain was released at the end of the tour. Dylan released Renaldo and Clara, a four-hour film based on the Rolling Thunder tour, to poor reviews in early 1978. Early in 1978, Dylan set out on another extensive tour, this time backed by a band that resembled a Las Vegas lounge band. The group was featured on the 1978 album Street Legal and the 1979 live album, At Budokan. At the conclusion of the tour in 1979, Dylan announced that he was a born-again Christain, and he launched a series of Christian albums that fall with Slow Train Coming.

Though the reviews were mixed, the album was a success, peaking at number three and going platinum. His supporting tour for Slow Train Coming featured only his new religious material, much to the bafflement of his long-term fans. Two other religious albums, Saved (1980) and Shot of Love (1981) ,followed, both to poor reviews. In 1982, Dylan traveled to Israel, sparking rumors that his conversion to Christianity was short-lived.

He returned to secular recording with 1983's Infidels, which was greeted with

favorable reviews. Dylan returned to performing in 1984, releasing the live album Real Live at the end of the year. Empire Burlesque followed in 1985, but its odd mix of dance tracks and rock and roll won few fans. However, the five-album/triple-disc retrospective box set Biograph appeared that same year to great acclaim. In 1986, Dylan hit the road with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers for a successful and acclaimed tour, but his album that year, Knocked Out Loaded, was received poorly. The following year, he toured with the Grateful Dead as his backing band; two years later, the souvenir album Dylan and the Dead appeared. In 1988, Dylan embarked on what became known as "The Never-Ending Tour", a constant stream of shows that ran on and off into the late '90s. That same year, he released Down in the Groove, an album largely

comprised of covers.

The Never-Ending Tour received far stronger reviews than Down in the Groove, but 1989's Oh Mercy was his most acclaimed album since 1974's Blood on the Tracks. However, his 1990 follow-up, Under the Red Sky, was received poorly, especially when compared to the enthusiastic reception for the 1991 box set The Bootleg Series, Vols. 1-3 (Rare and Unreleased), a collection of previously unreleased outtakes and rarities. For the remainder of the'90s, Dylan divided his time between live concerts and painting. In 1992, he returned to recording with Good as I Been to You, an acoustic collection of traditional folk songs. It was followed in 1993 by another folk album, World Gone Wrong, which won the Grammy for Best Traditional Folk Album. After the release of World Gone Wrong, Dylan released a greatest-hits album and a live record.

Dylan released Time Out of Mind, his first album of original material in seven years, in the fall of 1997. Time Out of Mind received his strongest reviews in years and unexpectedly debuted in the Top 10. Its success sparked a revival of interest in Dylan, he appeared on the cover of Newsweek to promote the album and his concerts became sell-outs. Early in 1998, Time Out of Mind received three Grammy Awards -- Album of the Year, Best Contemporary Folk Album and Best Male Rock Vocal. [15]

BARRY SADLER 1940-1966

It is September 8, 1966, and Barry Allen Sadler, singer, songwriter, author and former Green Beret lies close to death in a Guatemala City hospital. On his way home in a cab from a day of drinking and carousing, he was shot. A victim of robbery, assassination ,or general bad luck is uncertain. What is certain, somewhere along the Antigua Highway a jacketed round entered his skull just above his ear and plowed through his brain destroying one third of it. The cabby says Sadler's .380 Pietro Beretta pistol was out and went off. So does the senorita riding with Barry who vamoosed shortly after the incident. She was lucky because the cabby spent a year in jail for just being there. This is the beginning of the end of Barry Sadler's tumultuous life.[1]

A woman, a gun and a far off exotic locale reads like pulp fiction, but was Barry Sadler's life. Catapulted to instant stardom in 1966 with his rendering of The Ballad of the Green Berets, Barry became the poster child of the Vietnam conflict, America's longest and most socially disastrous war. A decorated combat veteran, he penned this song and others about the Special Forces that went on to sell over 11 million records with The Ballad remaining at # 1 for five straight weeks in 1966. In the late seventies and throughout the eighties he sold over two million books led by the Casca the eternal Macrenary series, the tale of the Roman legionnaire who speared Christ on the cross and then was damned to live until judgement day as a solider. This is played out in 22 volumes spanning through history. This rare double is the envy of anyone who has ever dared to make a living picking up a guitar or a pen.

Since 1966, Barry Sadler lies in Roosevelt Hospital in Guatemala City unrecognizable from the swelling wound that has caved his head. Dramatically, less than seventy-two hours after the shooting, Barry is whisked away via air ambulance chartered by Soldier of Fortune Editor Bobby Brown. He is transportated to a Veterans Administration hospital in Nashville where he is expected to die. Fourteen months later, he does just that, but not before a custody battle and a kidnapping of his comatose body occur, a bizarre end for a man graced with many talents, but never the master of any .

Barry was born in Carlsbad, New Mexico on November 1,1940, the second son to John Sadler and Bebe Littlefield both originally from Phoenix, Arizona .His parents divorced shortly thereafter. His father remarried soon but died from a rare form of cancer involving his nervous system .Bebe the took Robert, Barry's older brother, age twelve and Barry, age seven on an odyssey throughout the southwest where she managed restaurants, bars and gambling casinos.

Barry quit high school in Leadville, CO after the tenth grade and went hitchhiking across the country. He returned and joined the Air Force on June 2, 1958. He was seventeen and needed his mother's authorization to enlist. Trained as a radar specialist, he shipped out to Japan before his eighteenth birthday.

Japan was the education Barry never received. His mind and body progressed tremendously in this short year he was there. Unlike most servicemen, he thrived from the exposure to the culture, learning to speak a little Japanese and socializing with the locals. Under the tutelage of Aikawa Kaiichi, a martial arts master, Barry saw more of Japanese life in that short year than most visitors ever would and attained the black belt in Judo.

His year of discovery was soon over as Barry found himself back in the U.S. where he was from California to Missouri and then back to Beale Air Force Base, north of Sacramento, CA.He spent the rest of his enlistment there and promoted to airman first class.

However, the boredom of radar and the strong rumor of a posting to Alaska were enough to drive him back to civilian life after his enlistment was up in June, 1962.

Unable to find work, Barry hit the road with a friend named Walter Lane. Together in Barry's car with Walter's drums and Barry's guitar, they tried to make a living playing in bars, honky-tonks and shopping centers. At that time Barry felt that he was getting nowhere.

Barry went back to the only success he'd ever experienced and fatefully enlisted into the Army, volunteering for the airborne paratrooper service. Barry thrived in the military environs, reveling in the mental and physical competition. He earned his silver wings from a jump school at Fort Benning. He began to think about writing a song involving the airborne. He then had no idea what it would be, but he wanted to include the line " silver wings upon their chests".

During the winter of 1963, while Barry earned his wings, and unbeknownst of most America, the conflict in Vietnam was silently escalating .Barry was now in medic training at Fort Sam Houston, TX. A fateful encounter in the mess hall sparked Barry into a whirlwind courtship with the slender WAC named Lavona Edelman. Five weeks later they married, Lavona left the army, so they were able to live as man and wife.

Now, in 1964 the conflict in Vietnam was heating up with North Vietnams dubious attacks on the U.S. warships Maddox and C.

During May of '65, Barry was leading a patrol in the tall grass of the central Highlands southeast of Pleiku and ran his knee into a Vietcong punji stick. Thousands of those razor sharp bamboo sticks were everywhere, covered with excrement .A major infection set in requiring surgeons to enlarge the wound to drain it, while pumping Barry full of penicillin.

Barry was transferred to Clark air base in the Philippines before he was sent home. He would keep his leg. Barry concluded correctly that he would not return to the field. During his time in hospital he wrote The Ballad .He gave it to Chet Gierlach of Music, Music INC, who then tried to push Barry as a singer and a songwriter.

The Ballad was released on January 11, 1966 and the album on January 20th. " They took off like a wildfire, " said Barry.

The Ballad sold two million copies in five weeks. The media was all over Barry. Stories appeared in Life, Time, Newsweek, Variety, Billboard and Cash Box magazines while Barry appeared on the Ed Sullivan show, The Jimmy Dean Show, NBC's Home Front and Martha Raye's ABC-TV Hollywood Palace Program. On this show, Barry received two industry gold records marking the record sales of one million copies for both the single and the album.

Finally, Barry thought the song ruined his life. He was really into the military lifestyle. He loved it -the combat, the action, the whole scene-but once the song became sort of a National Anthem for the military, he was called from the line of duty and used primarily as a PR -figure in the Army. It pulled him away from the part of the military he really loved and made him a poster child .


1. Humphries, Patrick

The Complete Guide to the Music of Bob Dylan

1995 Omnibus Press

2. Kissinger, Henry A.

Memoiren 1969 -1973

1982 C. Bertelsmann

3. Sizemore,Gary

Barry Allen Sadler

1980, Sizemore Press

4. Skolnik, Richard

-Our Great Heritage from the beginning to 1762

-Our Great Heritage from 1763 to 1783

-Our Great Heritage from 1866 to 1896

-Our Great Heritage from 1849 to 1865

1975 Consolidated Book Publishers

5. Williams, Stuart

Mojo Music Magazine

1998, EMAP

[1]MOJO Music Magazine

[2]MOJO Music Magazine

[3]Complete Guide to the music of Bob Dylan, Patrick Humphrey

[4]Army Information Leaflet

[5]Army Information Leaflet: The U.S. Special Forces

[6]The Green Berets mostly trained " Montagnards" ,they were almost one million inhabited in Vietnam in 1965, which the G.B. as early as 1962 began organizing and arming to fight the communist insurgents. They were indigenous people to Vietnam who descending from Malaysia. Since they were regarded as inferior by the Vietnamese, the americans could create an effective fighting force ( Henry A. Kissinger, Memoiren, 1969-73)

[7]Billboard Magazine, the review 1960- 1969

[8]Henry A. Kissinger, Memoiren ,1969-73

[9]Billboard Magazine, The review 1960-69

[10]Our great heritage, the first settlers

[11]The Spanish-American war took place because of difficulties between Spain and its then colony Cuba. The U.S. intervened to stop the killings in early versions of concentration camps. Many of those interventionists were humanitarians and idealists but like T. Roosevelt, many wished to see Cuban intervention turn into an opportunity for American Imperialism .

[12]Our great heritage, The Civil War years 1849-1865

[13]DTV Atlas zur Geschichte

[14]There is another very common version of the third verse which I have also taken into consideration. As the rest of the song remains the same, I only gave the third verse of the other version.

[15]As this text is meant to be additional background information, I summed up an article of MOJO music magazine, November '98 ,pp. 36-66 for this biography.

Gary Sizemore ,Barry Allen Sadle[r]

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