Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
Aretha Franklin, Dead At 76, Inadvertently Recorded One Of Vietnam's Best Protest Songs
Aretha Franklin, the legendary singer whose full-throated vocals earned her the undisputed title of “Queen of Soul,” died on Thursday of pancreatic cancer at the age of 76, her publicist announced.
"In one of the darkest moments of our lives, we are not able to find the appropriate words to express the pain in our heart,” Franklin’s family said in a statement to the Associated Press. “We have lost the matriarch and rock of our family. The love she had for her children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and cousins knew no bounds."
Franklin’s legacy spanned more than a half-century of groundbreaking achievements in music. Her hits "Respect" and "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" demolished the popular charts and reshaped the music landscape with anthemic, powerful vocals. Her songs earned her the honor of the first female inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame in 1987, and she inspired generations of would-be divas who came after her.
But what many modern devotees to the Queen of Soul don’t realize is that Franklin happened to give the United States one of the most subtle protest songs of the Vietnam War — even if she didn’t realize it at the time.
The lyrics of Franklin’s 1967 single “Chain Of Fools,” released during the height of Vietnam, are relatively simple: the singer, after five long years of devotion to her would-be man, finds out she’s “just a link in your chain” to be used and abused:
For five long years
I thought you were my man
But I found out, I'm just a link in your chain
Oh, you got me where you want me
I ain't nothin' but your fool
Ya treated me mean
Oh you treated me cruel
“Chain Of Fools” started out as an anthem of female independence. But after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968, according to Craig Werner and Doug Bradley, authors of We Gotta Get Out of This Place: The Soundtrack of the Vietnam War, African-American veterans returning home from Vietnam “transformed it into an angry rejection of the chain of command.” Here’s how Bradley recently described the song’s political impact for PBS:
Marcus Miller, an infantryman in the Mekong Delta during the war, said the song referred to the military “chain of command.” And David Browne, who’d grown up in Memphis and served with the 101st Airborne, recalls that when he first learned of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., while a soldier in Vietnam, the only thing that stopped him from “killing the first honky I met” was listening to Chain of Fools. “I thought, that’s my story,” and that chain is gonna break …
But Franklin’s music wasn’t about anger and rage — it was a source of comfort, a sliver of home, for the thousands of U.S. service-members deployed overseas to Vietnam.
“Although songs like ‘Chain of Fools’ and ‘Respect’ didn’t directly address the war, tapes of [Franklin’s] music became as essential a part of field kits as C-rations and morphine,” wrote Lee Andresen in Battle Notes: Music of the Vietnam War. “[Franklin] fondly recalls how Vietnam vets have expressed their gratitude for how her music helped them cope with the stress of war.”
Today, post-9/11 U.S. service members have "Let The Bodies Hit The Floor" by Drowning Pool as their anthem of choice. But 50 years ago, it was the Queen of Soul who accompanied American warfighters downrange — and for a generation of veterans, her music was the soundtrack of their own Forever War.
GENEVA/DUBAI (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said he was prepared to take military action to stop Tehran from getting a nuclear bomb but left open whether he would back the use of force to protect Gulf oil supplies that Washington fears may be under threat by Iran.
Worries about a confrontation between Iran and the United States have mounted since attacks last week on two oil tankers near the strategic Strait of Hormuz shipping lane at the entrance to the Gulf. Washington blamed long-time foe Iran for the incidents.
Tehran denies responsibility but the attacks, and similar ones in May, have further soured relations that have plummeted since Trump pulled the United States out of a landmark international nuclear deal with Iran in May 2018.
Trump has restored and extended U.S. economic sanctions on Iran. That has forced countries around the world to boycott Iranian oil or face sanctions of their own.
But in an interview with Time magazine, Trump, striking a different tone from some Republican lawmakers who have urged a military approach to Iran, said last week's tanker attacks in the Gulf of Oman had only a "very minor" impact so far.
Asked if he would consider military action to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons or to ensure the free flow of oil through the Gulf, Trump said: "I would certainly go over nuclear weapons and I would keep the other a question mark."
Minnesota Democratic Party staffer under fire for calling USS Minneapolis-Saint Paul a 'murder boat'
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said Tuesday he is appalled by a state DFL Party staff member's tweet referring to the recently-launched USS Minneapolis-Saint Paul as a "murder boat."
"Certainly, the disrespect shown is beyond the pale," said Walz, who served in the Army National Guard.
William Davis, who has been the DFL Party's research director and deputy communications director, made the controversial comment in response to a tweet about the launch of a new Navy combat ship in Wisconsin: "But actually, I think it's gross they're using the name of our fine cities for a murder boat," Davis wrote on Twitter over the weekend.
'We are there to deter aggression' — Pompeo addressed CENTCOM on Iran mere moments before Shanahan announced his departure
TAMPA — Minutes before the Acting Secretary of Defense withdrew Tuesday from his confirmation process, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke at MacDill Air Force Base about the need to coordinate "diplomatic and defense efforts'' to address rising tensions with Iran.
Pompeo, who arrived in Tampa on Monday, met with Marine Gen. Kenneth McKenzie Jr. and Army Gen. Richard Clarke, commanders of U.S. Central Command and U.S. Special Operations Command respectively, to align the Government's efforts in the Middle East, according to Central Command.
NAVAL BASE SAN DIEGO — The trial of Navy SEAL Chief Eddie Gallagher officially kicked off on Tuesday with the completion of jury selection, opening statements, and witness testimony indicating that drinking alcohol on the front lines of Mosul, Iraq in 2017 seemed to be a common occurrence for members of SEAL Team 7 Alpha Platoon.
Government prosecutors characterized Gallagher as a knife-wielding murderer who not only killed a wounded ISIS fighter but shot indiscriminately at innocent civilians, while the defense argued that those allegations were falsehoods spread by Gallagher's angry subordinates, with attorney Tim Parlatore telling the jury that "this trial is not about murder. It's about mutiny."
President Donald Trump announced on Tuesday that Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan will "not to go forward with his confirmation process."
Trump said that Army Secretary Mark Esper will now serve as acting defense secretary.