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COURTESY OF WASHINGTON PROJECT FOR THE ARTS Still, the spurned lover motif was an unmistakable constant, and it’s no wonder that when at the end of the night the crowd called the boys out for an encore they sang “Your Cheatin’ Heart” \(“the real national anthem,” And that is, if you take my meaning, the bitch of it. Starting from the wounded outsider pose,. you can never be sure whether you’re a rebel fighting the powers-that-be or an eternal adolescent shaking his fist at Aunt Sally and the womenfolk. Hancock actually made the domestic control issue explicit when he sang “From the White House to your house/they all play the same game/controlling your life/is their only claim to fame.” In those terms, it is still possible to romanticize the war: combat at least remains a realm of exclusively masculine prerogatives. It’s enough to convince you, as a piece of graffiti at the WPA exhibit proclaimed, that “war is just male menstruation-envy.” THE DAY AFTER THE concert, a symposium convened at the Hirshorn art gallery to explore further the dynamics of music throughout the war. Alexis Milner, producing a series for NPR on radio in Vietnam, discussed the official and pirate stations that American servicemen listened to during the U.S. invasion. Milner also described how the American anti-war movement smuggled the latest rock and soul tapes to the North Vietnamese, and how the communists broadcast the free-thinking new music \(Jefferson Airplane, The Rolling StoneS, The station wouldn’t play. And it wasn’t only the enemy playing subversive music; small groups of servicemen ran illegal broadcasts on the Army’s open frequency. One of the most prominent of the pirate DJs was a mysterious figure by the name of Dave Rabbit, who thousands of American soldiers remember hearing. Rabbit and other underground radio operators traded antiestablishment jokes and told troops which drug-dealers to stay away from. The American DJs got competition from “Hanoi Hannah,” a sweet-tongued communist radio announcer who’d play Aretha Franklin and then urge black U.S. soldiers to desert. Lydia Fish, a folkmusic specialist from State University of New York at Buffalo, also appeared on the panel. Fish has undertaken to collect as many songs dating from the war as possible and has compiled an extensive bibliography listing sources and recordings of G.I. music; accompanying Fish were four veterans who performed songs they had heard played in barracks and bars in South Vietnam, songs that ranged in tone from fiercely patriotic to virtually nihilistic. Listening to the music and the speakers at the conference, I kept wondering how much this art reflected the tension and dissent among U.S. servicemen, and how much it actually fueled those forces. Did rank affect musical taste? Did politics? After the symposium, Ernie Amabile, an Army vet and the director of the New York Vietnam Veterans Memorial Project, explained to me his theory of the way in which music, which at first held soldiers together, began to break them apart: “Tet was a dividing line: after the ’68 offensive, once it became known that we were negotiating a withdrawal and it was just a question of time, the troops began to be real suspicious of each other. The officers listened to country; the enlisted men listened to rock; and the blacks listened to soul. Nobody listened to anybody else’s music. And nobody did anybody else’s drugs. If you listened to country you drank; if you listened to rock you smoked pot. You couldn’t do both. But before Tet everybody hung out together and shared the same music and the same activities.” So there was every reason to think some genuine demons were invoked though certainly not exorcised in the Smithsonian’s civilized precincts. But by serving up a tangle of romantic, apolitical ambiguities I’m afraid the gentlemen from Lubbock did too much to make the war mysterious and aesthetic again; mystery is one of the highest characters THE TEXAS OBSERVER 25