Thursday 12 October 2017

Machine Gun

I have been thoroughly gripped by the documentary series on BBC 4 about the American War with Vietnam. I have never before heard the views of the North Vietnamese, the Viet Cong or the ordinary citizens of the country. My opinions regarding the war were most probably formed in my mid teens when I read Dispatches, Chickenhawk ,  A Rumour of War and saw the films Platoon and Full Metal Jacket but I suppose I had already made up my mind prior to this,  being a bit of a hippy and also by the fact that most of the music that I love from the late 60s, that isn't soul was most definitely on the anti-war side. I don't think that this series will change my mind but it has given me the impetus to revisit the subject and read some of the other books that I bought but never got round to reading.

The audio tapes of Lyndon Johnson discussion the war with advisors and Robert McNamara have been a revelation to me. This troubles me as LBJ I think was a far more intelligent person than the present incumbent in the White House, with some very able men around him, If he couldn't get the USA out of Vietnam, Trump really needs to get gone soon before things with The Democratic Peoples Republic of North Korea escalate any further or we are all doomed.

Whenever I read of Vietnam or watch something where it is mentioned, Machine Gun by Jimi Hendrix and The Band Of Gypsies is always the first song that comes into my mind. I don't think that I have ever seen it used in conjunction with any images of the war but from when I first heard it round about when I was 13/14 years old I have always associated it with Vietnam and of course that is what the song is about but it has always stuck and as soon as I think about the useless waste of life oand decimation of South East Asia that first thirty or forty seconds of Machine Gun go through my head, the wah wah guitar, the cymbals and then the rat a tat a tat of the snare drum.

The track was recorded live at the Fillmore East, New York either late New Year's Eve 1969 or very early New Year's Day 1970.

Band of Gypsies - Machine Gun


Unknown said...

Like yourself, I have been completely engrossed in "The Vietnam War" series. It is good to hear the view of the North Vietnamese/Viet Cong for a change since it was they and Vietnamese civilians who suffered most. What I found incredible was how the US Government continually lied about the "success" of the war, even when they knew they could never win. I took part in anti Vietnam War demonstrations in the 1960's and was cynical about US foreign policy, but everything I've learned from this series leads me to believe it was worse than I ever thought.

Charity Chic said...

Sounds a bit like Brexit ( with guns) Gram!

Swiss Adam said...

I've been watching it too. Vietnam was big in the mid to late 80s- films, music etc. It had a big impact on our generation.

Anonymous said...

Another brilliant series of films from Ken Burns!

Brian said...

This series wrapped up over here a couple of weeks ago. Riveting and very well done. The interviews from the other side, as well as witnessing the slow change from gung-ho supporters and U.S. military personnel to adamant protesters through the installments, particularly John Musgrave, was compelling. A very dense program, particularly the first two programs, but worth sticking with it to the very end.

Anonymous said...

Listen to L Fletcher Prouty on when the weapons were moved to Vietnam (1945... yes that's right... 1945) and how the war was created and orchestrated years in advance. He knew... he was there arranging things.
It was worse than anyone can ever imagine. And LBJ would've been in prison if Kennedy hadn't been killed. Just saying.