Rockin' and Rollin' Through War

The following was written by Forrest Brandt November 12, 2000


Rockin’ and Rollin’ Through War

The music brought us together.

It roared out of AFVN in Saigon

like the hard driven rain of wet season

and poured down upon our thirsty ears…

“Make it sound like home,”

we begged,

“like ‘The World,’

like all the things we left behind.”

And they did, “Hey, Gary Geers comin’ atcha,

it’s 93 and clear here in Saigon at 15 hundred hours,

kickin’ this set off with little Mary Wells…

” We’d give a communal hum to those familiar tunes.

Sometimes, freed up by a few beers,

We’d stand with arms wrapped around each other,

setting aside all the perceptions,

that separated us back in CONUS.*

Banging out the rhythm with booted feet,

we’d throw our heads back

and sing the chorus with Eric Burden and the Animals,

“We gotta get outta this place, if it’s the last thing we ever do!”

In Lai Khe base camp the music blared

from out of a hundred different stereos,

Three-foot tall speaker boxes, bumpin’ and screamin’,

reel-to-reels** with auto reverse,

big amplifiers pushing the woofers and the tweeters

with Hendrix, Joplin, the Stones and Beatles, Mo-Town,

Judy Collins, sometimes Sinatra and Elvis,

Johnny Mathis lamenting “I’ll be Home for Christmas,”

Meryl Haggard and Patsy Cline, and “The Green, Green Grass of Home.”

and each Saturday noon, recorded live from the Met, an Opera.

Music was talked about, compared, collected and swapped,

systems plugged into systems,

a fraternity of listeners fought off the boredom,

and fear and the crushing loneliness

with the sounds of home.


* CONUS: Continental United States
** Reel to reel: Tape recorders, later replaced by cassettes and CDs