The Last Thing We Ever Do: Vietnam Era Veterans Speak Truth will be officially released on August 8 to coincide with the 57th anniversary of the passage of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution
Warrior Songs third CD, The Last Thing We Ever Do: Vietnam Era Veterans Speak Truth, will be officially released on August 8 to coincide with the 57th anniversary of the passage of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. The CD, featuring 14 cuts, is a collaboration of 19 Vietnam vets with 21 professional musicians and songwriters to create an eclectic compilation of rock, jazz, blues, and blue grass-inspired stories of the war and its aftereffects. The project involved 81 studio musicians and 14 studios in the United States and Vietnam. A total of 109 artists, 17 of whom are Vietnamese, were involved in creating the CD. The diversity of musical styles mirrors the diversity of the stories, from the Selective Service System to combat to coping with returning to the U.S., civilian life, and moral injury. In all, the songs on the CD chart the three stages of war: “going, there, and back.”
Warrior Songs was founded in 2011 by Iraq War veteran Jason Moon, who, diagnosed with PTSD, attempted suicide. He began to write songs about his experiences, and in 2010 released the CD Trying to Find My Way Home. This led to performances at educational sessions for non-vets and veterans’ retreats, which in turn led to vets sharing their stories with him. He realized that music could be an agency of healing for others if he could transform the stories into songs with the help of professional musicians and songwriters. He founded Warrior Songs in 2011, and the first CD, If You Have to Ask . . ., with Moon as executive producer, was released in 2016. The CD Women at War: Warrior Songs Vol. 2 was released in 2018 and represents the first time in the history of modern music that a full length CD was created from the testimony of women veterans. Eighteen women veterans and two Gold Star family members supplied testimony. 17 songwriters and 64 professional musicians brought the songs to life. 13 engineers, working in recording studios across five states, created the final recordings. In total, “Warrior Songs Vol. 2: Women at War” was produced by the collaboration of 95 people, of whom 49 were women. Women at War won the Wisconsin Area Music Award Album of the Year for 2019.
Moon has long-range plans for Warrior Songs. Volume 4 featuring songs by veterans of color is scheduled for a 2023 release. Future themes are “Family, Friends, and Support,” “Native and Indigenous Voices,” “Injured and Disabled Veterans,” “Rainbow Warriors/LGBTQ ,” “Tales from the Combat Zone,” and “Women Veterans of Color.” By 2030 he hopes to release volumes 1 through 10 as a full box set. A supplementary 11th volume will explore the experiences of survivors of US wars.
The new CD, as well as volumes 1 and 2, are free for veterans and are available from Warriorsongs.org.
(text by Larry Abbott)
Excerpts from the CD songs (courtesy from Warrior Songs):
I’ve seen the war on television, seems so far away.
It could be me there on the screen, could happen any day.
Rice paddies, helicopters, Agent Orange and a jungle trail,
Body bags and stretchers, all while the mothers wail.
And will they call my name?
When I learn my fate?
Will I come home again?
(Lyrics: John Zutz & Danny Proud; Music: Lisa Johnson)
As we burned your reality down
And I would hold you blameless
If you’d only want me gone
But I was cold
And you’ve been kind
And you have kept me warm
And I’m not home
And I’ll never be home again
But I’ll take off my shoes
And sleep on your floor if you’ll let me in
And I could never blame you
If you want to send me back where I’m from
But if you let me stay here
I can build you something out of my love
Take it or leave it
It’s a trivial gift
But there’s a thing that I’m building
And a hammer that cracks in the wind
(Jeff Mitchell and Steve Gunn)