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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.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Known for acting on impulse, President Donald Trump has adopted an uncharacteristically go-slow approach to whether to hold Iran responsible for attacks on Saudi oil facilities, showing little enthusiasm for confrontation as he seeks re-election next year.
After state-owned Saudi Aramco's plants were struck on Saturday, Trump didn't wait long to fire off a tweet that the United States was "locked and loaded" to respond, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed Iran.
But four days later, Trump has no timetable for action. Instead, he wants to wait and see the results of investigations into what happened and is sending Pompeo to consult counterparts in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates this week.
That sound you're hearing is Army senior leaders exhaling a sigh of relief, because the Army has surpassed its recruiting goal for the year.
After failing to meet recruiting goals in 2018, the Army put the pedal to the metal and "did some soul searching," said Acting Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy, to ensure that they'd meet their 2019 goal. It must have paid off — the service announced on Tuesday that more than 68,000 recruits have signed on as active-duty soldiers, and more soldiers have stuck around than they expected.
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein transformed into the Cigarette Smoking Man from "The X-Files" on Tuesday when explaining why UFO enthusiasts should avoid storming the mythical Area 51 installation in Nevada.
"All joking aside, we're taking it very seriously," Goldfein told reporters during the Air Force Association's annual Air, Space, and Cyber Conference. "Our nation has secrets, and those secrets deserve to be protected. The people deserve to have our nation's secrets protected."
SAN DIEGO — A San Diego-based Navy SEAL acquitted of murder in a closely watched war crimes trial this summer has filed a lawsuit against two of his former attorneys and a military legal defense nonprofit, according to a complaint filed in federal court in Texas on Friday.
NATIONAL HARBOR, Maryland — The Air Force is reviewing whether some airmen's valor awards deserve to be upgraded to the Medal of Honor, Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein said on Tuesday.
Goldfein revealed that several airmen are being considered for the nation's highest military award during a press conference at the Air Force Association's annual Air, Space, and Cyber Conference. He declined to say exactly who could receive the Medal of Honor, pending the outcome of the review process.