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Vietnam Blues

From: Tina Antolini
Length: 28:31

Vince Gabriel is a Vietnam veteran who's written an album of songs chronicling his experience of the war. He takes listeners back to 1968, to the jungle of Vietnam.

Default-piece-image-0 Vince Gabriel is a Maine-based blues musician who's written an album of songs chronicling his experience in the Vietnam war. In the documentary, Vince takes listeners chronologically through his time in Vietnam, with his music leading us into stories about getting drafted, arriving in the jungle, what combat was like, the loss of his closest friend, the relief of finally returning home and his reflections on the legacy of Vietnam today. While news reports about the war in Iraq tend to focus on numbers and strategy, Vince's stories give listeners an almost visceral sense of what it's like for those on the front lines. Though it is an account of a war that took place years ago, the current situation in Iraq make Vince's observations feel disturbingly immediate and poignant. This piece aired nationally on the documentary program "Soundprint" in late January 2005.

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Piece Description

Vince Gabriel is a Maine-based blues musician who's written an album of songs chronicling his experience in the Vietnam war. In the documentary, Vince takes listeners chronologically through his time in Vietnam, with his music leading us into stories about getting drafted, arriving in the jungle, what combat was like, the loss of his closest friend, the relief of finally returning home and his reflections on the legacy of Vietnam today. While news reports about the war in Iraq tend to focus on numbers and strategy, Vince's stories give listeners an almost visceral sense of what it's like for those on the front lines. Though it is an account of a war that took place years ago, the current situation in Iraq make Vince's observations feel disturbingly immediate and poignant. This piece aired nationally on the documentary program "Soundprint" in late January 2005.

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Review of Vietnam Blues

i was one of a group of five people who listened to this extremely moving and personal piece.we were brought to tears. this piece offers an exceptional opportunity for all of us who have never been through the hells of war to gain some insight into the mindset of an infantry soldier-the fears-the thoughts of dying-of never seeing your family again-of losing comrades-and ultimately returning home to your fmily and loved ones-this piece drew us in -clinging to every word and i must say i wish it had gone on a bit longer-- very well produced----this is an extremely relevant interview with what is going on in iraq-i also found the music to be extremely listenable and moving and have actually purchased the sound track cd "11 bravo vietnam" i highly recommend this to each and every person who has had a loved one--a brother a sister- dad- mom--husband etc. in the military.in this day and age i think we take our people in uniform for granted-yes we honor them-yes--we support them--but maybe after listening to this piece you will look at our sodiers in a whole new light--and gain a bit more understanding of our soldiers on a more intimate and personal level.

another tired story about a veteran working out his demons? i don't think so'

this is a very relevant piece and i would like to see it broadcast not only on veterans day and memorial day but a few more times in between.

Armando Redone

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Not every line of the interview needs to be in a story

Do we really need another Vietnam Vet working out his personal demons on the air?

Sure! It’s great to see ourselves through others experiences. It’s great to be enlightened by a survivor of a horrific tragedy whose had made a contribution to their own lives and others and find out how they did it.

Too bad this isn’t that kind of story.

This is a torturously boring piece and adds nothing to the thesis that war is hell and we should be scared of the personal and societal aftermath.

This piece bills itself about music and the healing power it can have. Yet, it’s a full 11 minutes before this guy even talks about his music and only in the last and closing moments does he tell us how he feels about music.

What we do get is an embarrassing musical track that sounds like a thirteen year-old’s diary—“I got up. I ate eggs. My friend took my place in line. He died. I didn’t. I went home.” It’s a pretty standard story. Horrific yes, but we’ve heard this many, many times before. There just isn’t anything special about this guy.

OK, this may sound a little unfair. These are terribly difficult pieces to do. A story told by the subject in his own words is an editing nightmare. You’re torn between the virtues of good storytelling that require the producer to shape a picture by grouping facts that the subject may not have described in the order in which they happened and being fully loyal to the chronology of the interview. You sort of have to tell the subjects story to themselves, almost being half a therapist.

How could this be made better? The producer needs to determine what the listener needs to hear in a way that resonates. It would have been better to tell the story of the subject’s life to day and use flash backs to show the impact on the war. There are several techniques that can be employed once a producer has a clear vision of the story.

You will find this piece to be well mixed and technically well done. Levels, mixes, transitions are seamless and the folks who put it all together did a great job.
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Review of Vietnam Blues

I am a big fan of this piece. The production was smooth and seamless. Vince Gabriel's intimate narration paired with his music and lyrics was a very powerful method for telling his story. I was drawn in and remained absorbed throughout. I would love to hear this piece on any public radio station, and not just on Veterans' Day.

Broadcast History

Aired nationally on the documentary program "Soundprint" in January 2005.

Musical Works

"11 Bravo Vietnam," Blind Albert, 2000. self-produced.

Related Website

http://www.blindalbert.com