Dawn mist, in the hills above Rotorua, New Zealand
Wide angle reviews, interviews and opinion on music, travel and the arts by writer Graham Reid
Jan Berry: The Universal Coward (1965)
Graham Reid | | 1 min read
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.
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).
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.
Del Shannon -- who died in 1990 age 55 -- is best and perhaps only remembered for the great chart-topping single Runaway of '61, even now a thrilling slice of energetic pop.
But far from a... > Read more