- Ballad of the Green Berets
Name = Ballad of the Green Berets
Artist = Staff Sgt.
from Album = Ballads of the Green Berets
Released = 1966
Genre = Ballad,
Length = 2:27
Robin Moore, Staff Sgt. Barry Sadler
Last single =
This single =
Next single =
"Ballad of the Green Berets" is a patriotic song in the ballad style about the Green Berets, an elite special force in the U.S. Army. It is one of the very few songs of the 1960s to cast the military in a positive light and yet it became a major hit, reaching number one on the Billboard Charts for five weeks in 1966. It was also a multi-market smash, reaching #1 on Billboard's Easy Listening chart, and #2 on Billboard's Country survey.
The song was written by
Robin Mooreand Staff Sgt. Barry Sadler, while the latter was recuperating from a leg wound suffered as a medic in the Vietnam War. Moore also wrote a non-fictionbook, "The Green Berets", about the force.
The recording of the song was the number one hit in the
United Statesfor five weeks in 1966 and was the number twenty-one song of 1960s, despite the later unpopularity of the Vietnam War. Refer to United States Army Special Forces in popular culture
It has sold over nine million singles and albums. It was the top single of a year in which the
British Invasion, led by the Beatlesand the Rolling Stones, dominated the U.S. charts.
It is currently used as one of the four primary marching tunes of the
Fightin' Texas Aggie Band.
The song is heard in a choral rendition by
Ken Darbyin the 1968 John Waynefilm "The Green Berets", which was based on Moore's book. The score of the movie was never released as an album until " Film Score Monthly" released it in 2005. A film tie infeaturing artwork from the film and a cover versionby Ennio Morriconewas released in Europe, though the other tracks on the album were soundtracks from " A Fistful of Dollars" and " For a Few Dollars More".
It also appears in the film "
More American Graffiti" and the film " Canadian Bacon".
It can also be heard in the gun show scene from the 2002 film Showtime.
The song is heard in the film "
Jesus' Son" in a scene that features a hitch-hiking " Jack Black".
Covers and derivatives
There are many
cover versions of the song including in different languages rewritten to reference local units, these include
*The Royal Netherlands Army's
Korps Commandotroepen(KCT) use the original lyrics. The only difference is that in the chorus, instead of singing "These are men, America's best", they sing "These are men, The Netherlands' best". Also in the final chorus, referring to the son of a deceased Green Beret, they sing "Make him one of The Netherlands' best". This version of the original ballad is sung to recruits who have successfully completed the harsh Basic Commando Training (ECO), and who receive their Green Beret.
Rhodesiansinger-songwriter John Edmondrecorded the "Ballad of the Green Berets" with reference to the soldiers of the Rhodesian Light Infantry(RLI), commando-style fireforce units of Rhodesian Security Forces who wore beretsof green color. Also, in South Africa, the "Ballad of the Green Berets" was recorded as the "Ballad of the Maroon Berets". The Maroon beretis a symbol of the South African Special Forces Brigadeand the South African 44 Parachute Regiment.
* The Swedish version "Balladen om den blå baskern" is a salute to the Swedish soldiers serving in the United Nations' peace-keeping forces (the Blue Berets).
*The Croatian Bojna za specijalna djelovanja (BSD) use the lyrics, but instead of "These are men, America's best" they sing "These are men, Croatia's best" and in the final chorus, referring to the son of a killed Green Beret, they also sing "Make him one of Croatia's best". It is unclear when exactly is the song first sung by new recruits, but it is assumed to be sometime after completing training.
*A German version (Hundert Mann und ein Befehl), sung by
Freddy Quinnand later again by Heidi Brühl had considerable success in Germany. The German version is a song against the war. It rejects any sacrifice, not only for the son, but not even for the father. Freddy Quinnsings the song from the point of view of the reluctant but forced soldier, Heidi Brühl from the point of view of the crying girlfriend of the soldier.
*In 1966, The Beach Bums, an ad hoc group featuring a young
Bob Seger, recorded "The Ballad of the Yellow Beret". The song was a clear send-up of "The Ballad of the Green Berets", chronicling the adventures of a draft dodger. The record was withdrawn after a cease and desist letter from Sadler.
The Residentsparodied the song on their " Third Reich & Roll" album.
*Another parody was used on "
Saturday Night Live" in 1986, "Ollie North, The Mute Marine" as a satire of Oliver Northand his refusal at that point to speak up about his participation in the Iran-Contra Affair. The parody may seem odd to contemporary viewers, since North's outspoken defense of the operation in 1987 is now far better remembered.
*The song is used to humorous effect in
Michael Moore's film "Canadian Bacon" as ill-informed Americans prepare for an invasion by Canada.
* In the movie
Wag the Dogthe fictitious unit 303 Special Forces has a song created titled The Men Of The 303 that is played to the same tune.
* In the film
Caddyshack, Carl Spackler, played by Bill Murray, mumbles the song under his breath while he is connecting the wires to the plunger as he prepares for final battle with his gopher nemesis.
* "New Super Yellow Hydraulic Banana Teeny Bopper Blue" by
Jamie Brockettparodies both the song and the social acceptance of it at the time.
* Not a parody, but in an episode of
Cheers, Cliff aborts his plans to emigrate to Canada with his love interest when Sam, Woody, and Frasier appeal to his patriotic side by singing this song.
* [http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=10:7uddylk2xpsb Track listings of the album "Ballads of The Green Berets" by SSgt. Barry Sadler]
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