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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.
Navy SEAL and Marine Raider could get life in prison if convicted of murdering Special Forces Staff Sgt. Logan Melgar
A Navy SEAL and Marine Raider charged with murder face a maximum penalty of life in prison without the possibility of parole now that they will have to appear before general courts-martial for their alleged roles in the death of Special Forces Staff Sgt. Logan Melgar, the Navy announced on Friday.
Navy Chief Special Warfare Operator Tony Dedolph and U.S. Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Mario Madero-Rodriguez have been charged with felony murder and other offenses, a Navy Region Mid-Atlantic news release said. If convicted, the maximum penalty for murder also includes reduction in rank to E-1, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and a punitive discharge.
What started as a wildly popular Facebook hoax titled Storm Area 51, They Can't Stop All of Us back in June has since morphed into a real live event. That's right, the long awaited day is upon us.
As of Friday morning, people have begun to make their way to the secret U.S. military installation in the Nevada desert in search of answers to the questions that plague us all: Are we alone in the universe? Is our government secretly hiding a bunch of aliens? Just how fast can I "Naruto run" past the base gate? And how far can we take a joke with the U.S. military?
The Marine Corps is loading up one of its experimental unmanned ground vehicle with a buttload of firepower.
The Marine Corps Warfighting Lab is working on a prototype of its tracked Expeditionary Modular Autonomous Vehicle (EMAV) with a remote-controlled .50 caliber machine gun turret and a specialized launcher for kamikaze drones to accompany Marines in urban environments, Military.com reports.
An Air Force civilian has died at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar in a "non-combat related incident," U.S. Air Forces Central Command announced on Friday.
Jason P. Zaki, 32, died on Wednesday while deployed to the 609th Air Operations Center from the Pentagon, an AFCENT news release says.
At a time when taxpayer and foreign-government spending at Trump Organization properties is fueling political battles, a U.S. Marine Corps reserve unit stationed in South Florida hopes to hold an annual ball at a venue that could profit the commander in chief.
The unit is planning a gala to celebrate the 244th anniversary of the Marines' founding at President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach on Nov. 16, according to a posting on the events website Evensi.