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Hymns for the FallenCombat Movie Music and Sound after Vietnam$
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Todd Decker

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780520282322

Published to California Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520282322.001.0001

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Soldiers’ Song

Soldiers’ Song

(p.82) 4. Soldiers’ Song
Hymns for the Fallen

Todd Decker

University of California Press

The use of popular music in post-Vietnam Hollywood war films has varied depending on the war being depicted. Swing, the popular music of World War II, goes almost entirely unrepresented in films depicting that war. Films about Vietnam have exploited the rich resource of popular music from the 1960s to characterize significant racial and class differences among American soldiers, typically pitting black Motown and soul music against white country music. Draft scripts for Apocalypse Now reveal how that film might have used late 1960s rock to emphasize the pathological nature of the American effort in Vietnam. Popular music in films about the all-volunteer, post-hip hop military suggest that racial tensions have abated, with a racial mix of soldiers enjoying a variety of musics. Films about twenty-first-century soldiers have almost no popular music, eliding well-documented practices of contemporary soldiers and denying civilian audiences potential points of connection by way of popular culture.

Keywords:   Motown, soul music, country music, rock, Apocalypse Now, all-volunteer military, popular music, swing, race and popular music

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