Jan Berry: The Universal Coward (1965)

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Jan Berry: The Universal Coward (1965)

Jan Berry was half of the surf pop group Jan and Dean, and he co-wrote this song with Jill Gibson as an answer to Buffy Sainte-Marie's Universal Soldier of the same year which had been covered by Donovan and Glen Campbell.

His partner Dean Torrance – who had done an Army Reserve stint – wanted nothing to do with it.

It's blunt! A real Cold War classic in a way.

Protestors are just cowards. 

The coward runs from a giant, a human and  . . .an elf?

They were clearly struggling for the rhyme with "himself".

Hilarious, if it wasn't so reductive and poisonous.

Patriotism is the last refuge for the scoundrel. Right?

This comes from a remarkable box set -- Next Stop is Vietnam; The War on Record 1961-2008 -- which Elsewhere has drawn from previously (see here).war

This massive, 13 CD set of songs, radio spots and recordings made in-country by soldiers brings together all the most well known songs about the war in Vietnam alongside many dozens of schmaltzy, obscure, seldom-heard and strange records which had the war/soldiers/patriotism/dissent as their theme.

With an accompanying book (not a booklet) of photos, potted history and notes on the songs and artists this is one magnificent album-sized monster of a history lesson pulled together by Bear Family Records out of Germany (here).

If you want to hear my 35 minute radio interview in which I play a number of Vietnam-era songs and speak about travel there and so on it is here.

For more oddities, one-offs or songs with an interesting backstory check the massive back-catalogue at From the Vaults.

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