Marine Corps Music: Master Guns' Playlist


Master Guns' Playlist

Songs About Marines

“Semper Fidelis” performed by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir “Tell That to the Marines” by Al Jolson “Song of the Marines” in “The Singing Marine”
“Amazing Grace,” Marines and Bagpipes “The Ballad of the Leatherneck Corps” by Tyrone Power Art Mooney and his Orchestra – “Honey-Babe”
“The Battle of Chosin” by Frank Gross China Nights by Kyo Sakamoto The Lawrence Welk Show: “Left Right Out of Your Heart”
“Marines, Let’s Go” by Rex Allen “55 Days at Peking” – The Brothers Four “The Men of MAG-16” by James Hatch
“Goodnight Saigon” by Billy Joel “Bumper of My S.U.V.” by Chely Wright “Real Men of Genius” Mr. Combat Reflective Belt Sash Wearer
A U.S. Marine "Answers" Dixie Chicks’ Song "Not Ready to Make Nice" “And They All Came Home but Me (Once a Marine)” by Chad Van Rys “My Little Boy” by Dan Lyons with the Salem Bottom Boys
“The Warrior Song – Hard Corps” “The Root: Ballad of the Peacekeeper” “Geneviève de Brabant” by Jacques Offenbach: The music for “The Marines’ Hymn”
Jerry Lee Lewis Plays “The Marines’ Hymn” “The Ballad of Ira Hays” by Johnny Cash  Jazz Rendition of the Marines' Hymn
Bob Lay - "Make a Marine" Bob Lay - "Marine's Ballad" Some Gave All - Billy Ray Cyrus  
"Raise Your Flag" - Autumn Letendre  Trace Adkins - "Semper Fi"  Whisper 'Semper Fi,' The Ballad of The Leatherneck
"Part of Me" - Katy Perry    

Songs By Artists Who Were Marines

"Where or When," Ray Heatherton, 1937 Dick Jurgens’ 1941 “Are You Kiddin’?” Bob Crosby – “Big Noise Blew In From Winnetka”
Buddy Rich’s Ultimate Drum Solo Bobby Troup – “Route 66” George Jones – “Soldier’s Last Letter”
Merle Travis – “Re-Enlistment Blues” “Crying in the Rain” by the Everly Brothers The Essex – “Walkin’ Miracle”
Freddy Fender – “Wasted Days and Wasted Nights” Shaggy – “Mr. Boombastic” Wayne Hancock – “Lost Highway”
Josh Gracin – “Could've Been Me”  Ray Price’s “Crazy Arms” (Original Version) Lee Marvin -- Wand'rin' Star
Cpl Todd Love Plays Bach    

“Semper Fidelis” performed by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir

John Philip Sousa was born in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 6, 1854. When Sousa reached the age of 13, his father, a trombonist in the Marine Band, enlisted his son in the United States Marine Corps. Sousa served his apprenticeship for seven years until 1875 and apparently learned to play all the wind instruments while honing his mettle with the violin. Several years after serving his apprenticeship, Sousa joined a theatrical (pit) orchestra where he learned to conduct. He returned to “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band as its head in 1880 and remained as its conductor until 1892.

Sousa led “The President’s Own” under five presidents from Rutherford B. Hayes to Benjamin Harrison. Sousa’s band played at two Inaugural balls, those of James Garfield in 1881 and Benjamin Harrison in 1889. “Semper Fidelis” also is the title of the official march of the United States Marine Corps, composed by Sousa in 1889 when a replacement for “Hail to the Chief” was requested, but later rejected. Sousa considered it to be his “most musical” march. Charles Burr wrote the lyrics to the march. Since very few even know there are lyrics to the march, we include them here:

"Semper fidelis" is a fabulous Latin motto     
meaning that in centuries of Roman might, the soldier swore that he would fight
For Caesar, never questioning if he might return     
or if the enemy when they attack could be driven aback—and that's what it means.
“We’re ever faithful” is the general gist in countries that are Christian     
Though it means almost the same we pledge no longer to the name
Of Caesar, but to principles of the land we know and love,     
Best owing the motto in war of our readiest corps—the mighty Marines.
Men are dutiful to things contradictory—     
loving all that is beautiful—knowing battle and victory.
They expect our expressions benedictory,     
and they find it perplexing and vexing and odd when we are shocked.
They’ve forgotten the old established verities,     
seeking only for fame and gold, seeing only disparities.
Those who worship the one true God are rarities     
who remember the biblical saying that God will not be mocked!
When the call to the true believer comes from the Church of God     
Will they all in their heart receive Him go where He bids them trod?
Will the men who appear deserving, who to their faith are true,     
answer when they are called to serving, do what she bids them do?
For many men profess their loyalty to true democracy yet bow to mockery     
and bend the knee to aristocracy, for to live their creed their need is small.
And may men proclaim their worthiness, display their lowliness, disclaim their earthiness.    
Oh give us strength to seek true holiness, and in word and deed to heed the call!



“Tell That to the Marines” by Al Jolson

Al Jolson was born in Russia. He, like movie director Frank Capra and so many others, came to these shores and really embraced all that it means to be an American. This song, recorded in 1918, was published by W. Harold Atteridge and Al Jolson who sings “If You Think Now the Yankee Drive Is Through, Tell That to the Marines!” BACK TO THE TOP

“Song of the Marines” in “The Singing Marine”

Marine veteran Ray Priest, as a young Marine musician in the early 1960s, was in a band, which occasionally played “Song of the Marines.” By the 1990s, the song had pretty well died out. He thought it too good to die and promoted it to the Marine Corps Musicians Association. It subsequently was voted the official song of the MCMA. Now the song is played and sung by all 12 of the Marine field bands, “The President’s Own” and “The Commandant’s Own” Drum and Bugle Corps. The song is regularly played as a part of the Evening Parade at Marine Barracks Washington, D.C. Actor and singer Dick Powell performed this song written by Al Dubin in the 1937 movie, “The Singing Marine.” BACK TO THE TOP

“Amazing Grace,” Marines and Bagpipes

2006 Scottish/Irish Highlands Festival in Estes Park, Colo. Mass bands with several different bagpipe groups and the Marines playing “Amazing Grace.” The sound is not what it should be, but it is nonetheless moving. BACK TO THE TOP

“The Ballad of the Leatherneck Corps” by Tyrone Power

Herman Wouk, who wrote “The Ballad of the Leatherneck Corps,” is a best-selling, Pulitzer Prize-winning author with a number of notable novels to his credit, including “The Caine Mutiny,” “The Winds of War” and “War and Remembrance.” Movie star Tyrone Power (1914-58) was an active-duty Marine from 1942 to 1946. He enlisted as a private, qualified for a commission and became a naval aviator, who flew missions off Kwajalein, Saipan, Okinawa and Kyushu, Japan. A member of Marine Transportation Squadron 353, he flew supplies onto Iwo Jima while it was still under Japanese fire. He read and recorded “The Ballad of the Leatherneck Corps” in 1943. BACK TO THE TOP

Art Mooney and his Orchestra – “Honey-Babe”

This version of “Honey-Babe,” the marching song, was written by Paul Francis Webster for the 1955 Warner Brothers picture “Battle Cry,” starring Van Heflin, Aldo Ray, James Whitmore, Tab Hunter, Anne Francis, Dorothy Malone, Raymond Massey and Mona Freeman. The movie is based on the novel by Leon Uris, who also wrote the screenplay. “Battle Cry” was produced and directed by Raoul Walsh. It received an Academy Award nomination for composer Max Steiner for Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture. Critics hated the movie, but audiences loved it. And while you may hear the tune to “Honey-Babe” in background scenes during the movie, the words and singing ended on the cutting-room floor. BACK TO THE TOP

“The Battle of Chosin” by Frank Gross

In November and December 1950, the First Marine Division was holding the area around the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea when the Communist Chinese forces came screaming across the China-North Korea border. Their intent was to destroy all the United Nations’ forces and take South Korea. Frank G. Gross was a private with Company I, 3d Battalion, Seventh Marine Regiment at the Chosin Reservoir when the orders came down for a tactical withdrawal to the south. Having received frostbite injuries and wounds from a concussion grenade, he was evacuated with many others at Hagaru, North Korea. Later, he wrote musical ballads about his experiences, which were put to video format by Air Force Sergeant Michael Bruce, a Vietnam-era veteran. This video is just one of many that have been created not only as an educational tool, but to remind us of the “Price of Freedom.”

Gross wrote his emotionally gripping lyrics describing the Battle of Chosin Reservoir at the Philadelphia Naval Hospital, Dec. 29, 1950, as he was beginning treatment for war injuries and the frostbite that eventually cost him parts of his toes. This ballad is believed to be one of the first written about the Korean War. BACK TO THE TOP

China Nights by Kyu Sakamoto

Although there are several different versions of the love song about China nights, Marines who served in the Far East (Japan or Okinawa) after World War II never have forgotten its melody. This particular version was sung by Kyo Sakamoto, who had the international hit “Sukiyaki” in 1963. The reverse side was “China Nights.” Kyo died in a plane crash in 1985. The November 1979 issue of Leatherneck has a story about “China Nights.” The story in Leatherneck is by then-Gunnery Sergeant R. R. Keene. BACK TO THE TOP

The Lawrence Welk Show: “Left Right Out of Your Heart”

“Left Right Out of Your Heart (Hi Lee Hi Lo Hi Lup Up Up)” was written by Mort Garson, with lyrics by Earl Shuman. Patti Page recorded the best-known version on the Mercury label in 1958. It first reached the Billboard magazine charts on June 30, 1958. On the Disc Jockey Chart, it peaked at #9; on the Best Seller Chart at #14; on the “Hot 100” composite chart of the top 100 songs, it reached #13. This version, sung by Dianne Lennon of the Lennon Sisters, is from a 1960 episode of “The Lawrence Welk Show.” BACK TO THE TOP

“Marines, Let’s Go” by Rex Allen

“Marines, Let’s Go,” written by Dorcas Cochran and sung by Rex Allen, is the title song from the 1961 Korean War film about three Marine buddies on shore leave in Japan. It was produced and directed by Raoul Walsh, who also wrote the story.

Walsh previously had success with films about the U.S. Marine Corps in World War I (“What Price Glory?”), the 1920s (“The Cock-Eyed World”) and World War II (“Battle Cry”). Walsh filmed the movie on location in Japan with extras from the Marine Corps who were pulled off filming due to the possibility of their being sent to Laos. The film was completed on Okinawa.

The Marine technical advisor of the film was Colonel Jacob G. Goldberg (1911-2008), who served 30 years in the Marine Corps. When the White House was interested in Warner Bros. making a film on President John F. Kennedy’s exploits as the commander of PT 109, Jack L. Warner sent a print of “Marines, Let’s Go” to display Raoul Walsh’s expertise. President Kennedy hated the film, and Warner Bros. had to choose a new director. BACK TO THE TOP

“55 Days at Peking” – The Brothers Four

The Boxer Rebellion, also was called The Boxer Uprising, or the Righteous Harmony Society Movement in northern China. “Righteous Fists of Harmony” or “Society of Righteous and Harmonious Fists,” known as “Boxers” in English, existed in China between 1898 and 1901, and opposed Western imperialism and Christianity. The uprising took place in response to European “spheres of influence” in China, with grievances ranging from opium traders, political invasion, economic manipulation, to missionary evangelism.

The compound in Beijing (Peking) remained under siege from Boxer forces from June 20-Aug. 14, 1900. A total of 473 foreign civilians, 409 soldiers from eight countries and about 3,000 Chinese Christians took refuge in the Legation Quarter. Under the command of the British minister to China, Claude Maxwell MacDonald, the legation staff and security personnel defended the compound with small arms, three machine guns and one old muzzle-loaded cannon; it was nicknamed the International Gun because the barrel was British, the carriage was Italian, the shells were Russian and the crew was American.

In 1963, Allied Artists released a historical epic film starring Charlton Heston, Ava Gardner and David Niven. The theme music was written by Dimitri Tiomkin and Paul Francis Webster. The music was used as background and, unfortunately, the words didn’t make it to the screen. Marine Corps historian Mike Miller’s award-winning story “Marines in the Boxer Rebellion” appeared in three parts: June, July and August issues of Leatherneck. BACK TO THE TOP

“The Men of MAG-16” by James Hatch

This parody of the “Ballad of the Green Beret” was a favorite of Marine helicopter aircrews stationed in Vietnam’s I Corps, from Ky Ha, to Marble Mountain, to the DMZ. It is included in a three-CD collection of Vietnam-era music, titled “Next Stop Is Vietnam,” sung by Marine veteran James Hatch, who said: “I can think of no more profane example of man’s endeavors than war, whatever its form or purpose. ... We sang these songs mostly as you hear them, and they reflect the many moods of the aircrews during those difficult and trying times. ... We sang these songs to ease our feelings of frustration, for entertainment in a hostile environment, and perhaps even to summon the courage to fly another day." The video, put together by Billy Ray in Cowtown Texas, features photos from Vietnam and the U.S. gatherings of “Pop-A-Smoke” and the “Ugly Angels” of Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 362.

Hatch flew 550 combat missions during two tours in Vietnam as a pilot. From 1966 to 1967 he flew UH-34Ds with Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 161 and Headquarters and Maintenance Squadron 17. During his second tour from 1969 to 1970, he flew KC-130Fs with Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 152.
He also has released an album, "A Viet Nam Aviator's Odyssey."  His albums are available for purchase at in the PX/Music section, or at BACK TO THE TOP

“Goodnight Saigon” by Billy Joel

“Goodnight Saigon” is a song written by Billy Joel, originally appearing on his 1982 album “The Nylon Curtain.” It is one of the most well-known songs about the Vietnam War. It depicts the situation and attitude of United States Marines, beginning with their military training on Parris Island and then into different aspects of Vietnam combat. BACK TO THE TOP

“Bumper of My S.U.V.” by Chely Wright

Richell Rene “Chely” Wright was born in 1970 and is a country-music artist. The song, titled “Bumper of My S.U.V.,” was written by Wright in response to an altercation with an irate woman who noticed the United States Marine Corps bumper sticker on the back of Wright’s car. The story, titled “Country Singer Sticks by Marines” by John Hoellwarth, appeared in the March 2005 issue of Leatherneck. BACK TO THE TOP

“Real Men of Genius” Mr. Combat Reflective Belt Sash Wearer

“Real Men of Genius”—Mr. Combat Reflective Belt Sash Wearer. Artist: Bishop Christopher/Adam Locklin.  Remember the beer commercials? Here’s one that probably was not aired. BACK TO THE TOP

A U.S. Marine "Answers" Dixie Chicks’ Song "Not Ready to Make Nice"

Corporal David Thibodeaux (an active-duty U.S. Marine, musician, father, husband and combat veteran of both Afghanistan and Iraq) along with Toby Keith’s Easy Money Band eloquently and cleverly “answer” Dixie Chicks’ 2007 hit “Not Ready to Make Nice.” BACK TO THE TOP

“And They All Came Home but Me (Once a Marine)” by Chad Van Rys

Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran and veteran Marine Chad Van Rys recalls: “When I was on active duty, I used to play the guitar with some of my buddies,
 but then it changed a little. Instead of playing with my buddies, somehow I ended up playing for my buddies.” “And They All Came Home but Me (Once a Marine),” which he wrote with Kirk W. Boland, was his first release. BACK TO THE TOP

“My Little Boy” by Dan Lyons with the Salem Bottom Boys

Bluegrass singer Dan Lyons with the Salem Bottom Boys wrote this song for his son, who is in the Marine Corps and was deployed to Iraq at the time. Lyons’ son Kaleb knew he wanted to be a Marine when he was still in middle school. Although Dan wasn’t in the military himself, Dan’s father, Kaleb’s grandfather, was a Marine. Kaleb is the 13th Marine in Dan’s family including grandfather, cousins and uncles. Dan began writing the song shortly after Kaleb went into boot camp in June 2006. He finished the song in 2007 and performed it at a family picnic. Dan is a member of the Salem Bottom Boys, a bluegrass band out of western Maryland that performs at various functions, carnivals and private parties in the area. The song “Our Little Boy” became one his most requested songs. Dan recorded his own CD with all his own music. It has been quite a seller because of that one song. BACK TO THE TOP

“The Warrior Song – Hard Corps”

“The Warrior Song – Hard Corps,” dedicated to The United States Marine Corps, by Sean Householder. Fans of this music genre say this is the best version of “The Warrior Song.” BACK TO THE TOP

"Where or When," Ray Heatherton, 1937

“Where or When” is a show tune from the 1937 Rodgers and Hart musical “Babes in Arms.” It was first performed by Ray Heatherton and Mitzi Green. Heatherton (1909-97) was a singer, Broadway musical theater performer and a popular New York TV personality. He became a Marine in 1943, serving as an air operations officer in the Pacific. He said, “Happiest days were in the Corps, where I directed an all-Marine show, ‘All Fouled Up,’ which toured Marine bases in the Pacific.” His daughter, Joey Heatherton, achieved fame as a singer and dancer. BACK TO THE TOP

Dick Jurgens’ 1941 “Are You Kiddin’?”

Dick Henry Jurgens (1910-95) was a swing music bandleader, who enjoyed great popularity in the late 1930s and early 1940s. He composed best-selling tunes that include “Careless,” “If I Knew Then,” “Elmer’s Tune,” “One Million Dreams Ago” and “One Dozen Roses.” He served during World War II from 1942 to 1945, directing theater shows for the troops. Here’s an example of a Dick Jurgens’ single, a foxtrot titled “Are You Kiddin’?” released in 1941 with Dick Jurgens and his orchestra. The lead singer is Harry Cool. BACK TO THE TOP

Bob Crosby – “Big Noise Blew In From Winnetka”

Bob Crosby (1913-93) was an American Dixieland bandleader and vocalist. He was the youngest of seven children. One of them, Harry, became known as “Bing.” During World War II, Bob was commissioned a second lieutenant; he spent 18 months in the Marine Corps as director of the Fifth Marine Division band, touring in the Pacific. Prior to the War, the Bob Crosby Orchestra and the Bob Cats recorded “Big Noise From Winnetka,” which became a hit in 1938-39. The duet of Bob Haggart and Ray Baduc became well known for their playing this version of the tune Bob Haggart composed, Bob on bass and Ray on drums. BACK TO THE TOP

Buddy Rich’s Ultimate Drum Solo

Bernard “Buddy” Rich (1917-87) was an American jazz drummer and bandleader. Rich was billed as “the world’s greatest drummer” and was known for his technique, power, groove and speed. In 1942, Rich left the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra to join the Marine Corps and served as a judo instructor. He rejoined the Dorsey group two years later. In 1946, Rich formed his own band with financial support from Frank Sinatra and continued to lead different groups on and off until the early 1950s. This clip, recorded in 1978, most likely on “The Tonight Show,” shows that at age 61 Buddy Rich was still one of the greatest drummers alive. BACK TO THE TOP

Bobby Troup – “Route 66”

Robert William “Bobby” Troup Jr. (1918-99) was an American actor, jazz pianist and songwriter. He is best known for writing the popular standard “(Get Your Kicks On) Route 66,” and for his role as Dr. Joe Early in the 1970s TV series, “Emergency!” His earliest musical success came with the song “Daddy,” which was a hit in 1941.

From 1942 to 1946, he served in the Corps and became a captain. “I was assigned to Montford Point at Camp Lejeune, N.C.—the home of the first black Marines. I was very glad I volunteered,” he said. Troup’s Marines built Quonset huts, head facilities, a nightclub, a boxing ring, a basketball court and formed a basketball team, a jazz band, an orchestra, and installed a miniature golf course for his men.

“I played with the band when we gave concerts before movies. One of the officers’ wives sitting next to my wife, leaned over and said, “That piano player looks white!” He served at Montford Point until 1944 and was later assigned duty on Saipan attached to the Second Marine Division. This performance of “Route 66,” made in Japan in 1964, is from “The Julie London Show.” Troup was married to London at the time. BACK TO THE TOP

George Jones – “Soldier’s Last Letter”

Country music’s George “The Possum” Jones joined the Marine Corps during the Korean War. Jones was not sent overseas; instead, he sang in bars near Moffett Field Naval Air Station, San Jose, Calif. After leaving the Marine Corps, his music career took off. Of his time in the Corps, he once said, “It was steady work. I could make financial allotments for my dependents, and best of all I could get out of Texas and the troubles that seemed to follow me there.” The song “Soldier’s Last Letter” was written by Redd Stewart and Ernest Tubb and released in 1944. BACK TO THE TOP

Merle Travis – “Re-Enlistment Blues”

Merle Travis enlisted in the Corps during World War II. He was a singer, guitarist and songwriter who wrote “Sixteen Tons” for Tennessee Ernie Ford, which hit the top of the Charts in 1955. He was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1970 and elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1977. His singing career found greater exposure after an appearance, in which he sang “Re-Enlistment Blues” (a song penned by novelist James Jones, who wrote the book “From Here to Eternity”), in the successful Academy Award-winning 1953 movie “From Here to Eternity.” BACK TO THE TOP

“Crying in the Rain” by the Everly Brothers

The Everly Brothers (Don and Phil, born Isaac Donald Everly, in 1937, and Phillip Everly, in 1939) are country-influenced rock ’n’ roll performers, known for steel-string guitar playing and close harmony singing. Their enlistment in the Corps in November 1961 temporarily took them out of the spotlight. However, one of their few performances during their Marine stint was in 1962 when they made an on-leave appearance in dress blues on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” performing “Jezebel” and “Crying in the Rain,” which hit #6 on the Pop Chart. After the Marine Corps, the brothers resumed their career, but U.S. chart success was limited.

When we first added a version of the song "Crying in the Rain" to "Master Guns' Playlist," we asked if anyone had a video  of the performance of the brothers during “The Ed Sullivan Show.” We received a comment anonymously on May 7, 2011. The note gave us the link to the video on YouTube. Master Guns says "Semper Fi" to our anonymous friend for sending the video link.  BACK TO THE TOP

The Essex – “Walkin’ Miracle”

“The Essex” was a rhythm and blues vocal group formed in 1962. The group is best known for its 1963 chart-topper and million-selling track, “Easier Said Than Done” and “Walkin’ Miracle.” Founding members Walter Vickers (guitar) and Rodney Taylor (drums) were Marines stationed on Okinawa. After being transferred to Camp Lejeune, N.C., they enlisted fellow Marines Billy Hill and Rudolph Johnson as group members. Next they added a female lead singer, Anita Humes, also a Marine.

In 1963, a demo earned them a recording contract with Roulette Records. They recorded “Easier Said Than Done,” written by Larry Huff and William Linton, who said that the beat was inspired by the sound of multiple teletype machines, noisy mechanical beasts pounding out copy in the base’s communications room. Rudolph Johnson left the group, and “The Essex” became a quartet. Three months after “Easier Said Than Done” reached No. 1 on the charts in July 1963, the group had a #12 hit with the follow-up song, “A Walkin’ Miracle” in September 1963. Duty in the Marine Corps made it hard for the group to take advantage of their hits; for example, Johnson was posted to Okinawa. BACK TO THE TOP

Freddy Fender – “Wasted Days and Wasted Nights” 

Freddy Fender (1937-2006) was born Baldemar Garza Huerta in San Benito, Texas. He was a Mexican-American Tejano, country and rock ’n’ roll musician who also sang with “Los Super Seven” and the “Texas Tornados.” He is best known for his 1975 hits “Before the Next Teardrop Falls” and “Wasted Days and Wasted Nights.”

In 1954, at the age of 16, he quit school and enlisted for three years in the Corps. He served as a gunner on an M47 tank with 4th Tank Battalion, Third Marine Division at Camp Fuji, Japan and Okinawa. Although he was good with the tank’s 90 mm gun, the Corps and Huerta did not see eye-to-eye. He was court-martialed in 1956 and was discharged as a private. He returned to Texas and played nightclubs, bars and honky-tonks throughout the south, mostly to Latino audiences.

In 1958, he changed his name to Freddy Fender. He took Fender from the guitar and amplifier, and Freddy because the alliteration sounded good to him, and it would “sell better with Gringos!” The following performance was during the Country Music Festival at Rotterdam, the Netherlands, in 1979. BACK TO THE TOP

Shaggy – “Mr. Boombastic”

Orville Richard Burrell was born 1968 in Kingston, Jamaica. Better known by his stage name, “Shaggy,” he is a reggae singer. In 1988, he joined the Corps as a field artillery cannon crewman with 5th Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment. He served during Operation Desert Storm in the Persian Gulf War. It was during this time that Shaggy perfected his signature singing voice, breaking the constant monotony of running and marching cadences with his flair for inflection. It also is where he got the inspiration for his 1995 hit song “Boombastic” (Burrell, Floyd and Livingston), the theme tune of a popular Levi's commercial. BACK TO THE TOP

Wayne Hancock – “Lost Highway”

Wayne “The Train” Hancock, born in 1965, is a country musician. He began writing songs at the age of 12, and at 18 won a talent contest called the “Wrangler County Showdown.” Immediately after the contest, he was shipped to recruit training and served four years in the Corps. Hancock released his debut album in 1995 and has continued to tour and record albums since then. He lives in Austin, Texas. His music is comparable to that of Hank Williams and Hank Thompson. He sang this Hank Williams’ song at Lee’s Liquor Lounge in Minneapolis in 2008. BACK TO THE TOP 

Wayne Hancock holding Leathernecks
(Photo by Ron Lunn)

Josh Gracin – “Stay with Me

Josh Gracin was featured in the June 2008 issue of Leatherneck: “Singer Josh Gracin: American as Country Music and the Corps.” Born in 1980, Joshua Mario “Josh” Gracin is a country-music singer. A former lance corporal, he first gained public attention as the fourth-place finalist on the second season of the Fox Network’s talent competition “American Idol.”

Gracin enlisted in 2000 and completed his service as a supply administrative and operations clerk with 1st Maintenance Battalion, First Force Service Support Group, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif. He signed a record deal with Lyric Street Records. His self-titled debut album was released in 2004. It produced a No. 1 hit, “Nothin’ to Lose,” and two more Top Five hits on the Billboard Hot Country Songs charts and was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America.


Ray Price’s “Crazy Arms” (Original Version)


Ray Price was born in Perryville, Texas, and served in the Marine Corps from 1944 to 1946. He began singing for KRBC in Abilene during 1948. He joined the “Big D Jamboree” in Dallas during 1949. He relocated to Nashville, Tenn., during the early 1950s, rooming for a brief time with Hank Williams. When Williams died, Price managed his band, the “Drifting Cowboys,” and had minor success. He was the first artist to have success with the song “Release Me” (1954). By the mid-1960s, he was diversifying his music with pop-flavored ballads such as “Make the World Go Away.” The 1967 hit “Danny Boy,” recorded with a full orchestra, alienated some of his hard-core fans, who much preferred his 1966 honky-tonk gem “Touch My Heart.” But Price was winning new audiences as well, and he continued his country-pop success in the early 1970s with “For the Good Times” (a crossover that hit No. 11 on the pop charts) and “I Won’t Mention It Again.” Price was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1996.  “Crazy Arms” was written by Ralph Mooney and Charles Seals. Mooney, a pedal steel player, said he got the idea for the song after his wife left him because of his drinking problem. The song, released in 1956, became a hit that year and a honky-tonk standard. It was Price’s first No. 1 hit. (Thanks to Owen L.  Conner for recommending this song.) BACK TO THE TOP

“The Ballad of Ira Hays” by Johnny Cash

Most Marines know “The Ballad of Ira Hayes,” written by folk singer Peter La Farge. It tells the story of Ira Hayes, who was one of five Marines and a Navy corpsman
who became famous for having raised the flag Feb. 23, 1945, over Mount Suribachi during the Battle of Iwo Jima. The song has been recorded many times, but by far, the most popular version is by the late Johnny Cash, recorded in 1965. BACK TO THE TOP

Lee Marvin -- "Wand'rin' Star"

There's a lot of misinformation about the late actor Lee Marvin's combat record during World War II. Marvin (1924-1987) did leave school to join the Corps and served as a scout sniper with the Fourth Marine Division. He was wounded in action in 1944 on Saipan. Marvin's wound (in the buttocks) was from machine-gun fire, which severed his sciatic nerve. He was awarded the Purple Heart and was given a medical discharge with the rank of private first class. He does not have, as is claimed on many Internet sites, the Navy Cross, nor did he serve with Bob "Captain Kangaroo" Keeshan. The song "Wand'rin' Star" was his only record hit (he really wasn't much of a singer), which he sang in the 1969 Western musical "Paint Your Wagon" in which he was top-billed over Clint Eastwood. Known for his gravel voice, white hair and 6-foot-2-inch stature, he did mostly supporting roles, playing villains, soldiers and other hard-boiled characters, but after winning an Academy Award in 1965 for Best Actor for his dual roles in the Western comedy "Cat Ballou" he landed more heroic and sympathetic leading roles. (Thanks to Steve Stibbens for recommending this song.) BACK TO THE TOP

Jazz Rendition of the Marines' Hymn

The Marine Corps All Star Jazz Band lead trombonist, Staff Sergeant Ken Ebo, wrote this jazz rendition of the "The Marine's Hymn" on a six-hour bus ride to Marquette, Mich., one stop on the annual All-Star Jazz Band tour. This is the band's first take on Ebo's rendition. BACK TO THE TOP

"Some Gave all" by Billy Ray Cyrus

"Some Gave All" was the 1992 debut album by country music artist Billy Ray Cyrus who, with his brother Clyde, wrote the title song. The album was released on Mercury Records, and it produced four hit singles on the Billboard country charts. The first of these was Cyrus' breakthrough song "Achy Breaky Heart" that topped charts in several countries. "Could've Been Me," "Wher'm I Gonna Live?" and "She's Not Cryin' Anymore" also were released as singles, peaking on the country charts at numbers 2, 23 and 6, respectively.
William "Billy" Ray Cyrus (born in 1961) also is a songwriter and an actor. His most successful album to date was "Some Gave All," which has been certified 9× Multi-Platinum in the United States and is the longest time spent by a debut artist at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 (17 consecutive weeks) and most consecutive chart-topping weeks in the SoundScan era. "Some Gave All" also was the first debut album to enter at No. 1 in the Billboard country albums. The album also has sold more than 20 million copies worldwide. It is the best-selling debut album of all time for a solo male artist. "Some Gave All" also was the best-selling album of 1992 in the U.S. with 4,832,000 copies.

"Some Gave All" is the background music of a photo essay by photographer Jensen Sutta, who said, "At the end of last year [2010], I was able to attend and photograph an event hosted by the Remembering the Brave organization at the [National Museum of the Marine Corps] near Quantico, Va. They honored fallen soldiers and their families.  In attendance were many widows and parents. It was an emotional day, but celebrating the lives and sacrifices." Sutta’s photography is internationally recognized, and he may be contacted at his studio: Jensen Sutta Photography, LLC, 9433 Ashbury, #103, Parker, CO 80183, (805) 895-6148. His main website is He adds: “I am available for hire for nearly any type of photo shoot, so please don't hesitate to contact me with any questions."

His work is showcased and provides an emotional and patriotic complement to the Cyruses’ song. BACK TO THE TOP

"Raise Your Flag" - Autumn Letendre

Country music newcomer Autumn Letendre celebrated Flag Day 2011 with the release of her debut country album, "Raise Your Flag."
The 10-track album is the result of Letendre's inspiring and powerful story as a military widow and single mother. Fittingly, Letendre is the solo author of all but two songs on the album. Letendre's story has been recognized nationally by First Lady Michelle Obama.
In 2003, Letendre's husband, U.S. Marine Corps Captain Brian Scott Letendre, was deployed to Iraq while she was preparing for the birth of their child. The morning after Dillon was born, the radio across the hall of Letendre’s hospital room announced: "The war has begun. Our troops have crossed into Iraq." With mixed emotions of the joy of their son and fear for her husband's safety, Letendre picked up her journal for strength and began to write "Daddy Loves You." She wanted her son to know just how much his father loved him and wrote the song as a story, which she sang to her newborn son over and over again as they waited for Brian's return.
On May 3, 2006, Letendre was informed her husband had been killed while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq.
She cherished the moments she was able to sing "Daddy Loves You" to Brian when he came home from his first deployment. As she considered songs for “Raise Your Flag,” Letendre knew that “Daddy Loves You,” the first song she had written during an important time in her family's life, had to be included.
A native of Bloomington, Ind., Letendre first began writing songs in the fifth grade. It was then that she started writing her poems with a melody. Her love of writing grew further while composing letters to her father. Letendre explained: “I would spend all day writing him and placing it under his pillow just before bedtime. I waited in my room with great anticipation, hoping to hear him find my masterpiece. I would tell him to not discuss the letter with me, but to please write me back, and he always did. He would leave his letter propped up on the bed to make sure I found it, and I remember smiling the whole time as I read his words.” Letendre’s fans are now the ones smiling as they hear her heartfelt words pour over beautiful melodies, like her title cut, “Raise Your Flag,” which also is the first single released to radio. Eight songs from her journals can be heard on her debut album, including a song that her husband was able to hear before his final deployment.
“My debut album is a dream come true. I never in my wildest dreams could have dreamt that life’s circumstances would have inspired me to write 'Raise Your Flag,' " said Letendre. "Releasing my album on Flag Day is truly an amazing feeling and a sincere tribute to all of our troops and their families."
For additional information on Autumn Letendre, visit BACK TO THE TOP

 Trace Adkins - "Semper Fi"


Country singer Trace Adkins released his latest album Aug. 2, 2011, by Show Dog – Universal Music. According to Adkins, “Proud To Be Here" was chosen as the album title because “it’s how I’ve felt ever since my first album release and during every milestone since.”

The song "Semper Fi" was written by Trace Adkins, Kenny Beard and Monty Criswell. If you are a country-music fan, I think you'll agree it is a great tribute to our Corps.

He sat in that long line of barber chairs
And the sergeant asked him "Son, would you like to keep your hair?"
He said "Yes sir" as he heard those clippers buzz and hum
The sergeant said "Well hold out your hands, here it comes"

Semper Fi
Do or die
So gung-ho to go and pay the price
Here's to Leathernecks
Devil Dogs and Jarheads
Parris Island in July
Semper Fi

I sleep in my bed instead of a fox hole
I've never heard my boss tell me to lock and load
Ain't no bullet holes in the side of my SUV
'Cause the kid next door just shipped out overseas

Semper Fi
Do or die
So gung-ho to go and pay the price
Here's to Leathernecks
Devil Dogs and Jarheads
Parris Island in July
Semper Fi

For the few that wear the dress blues
Hair cut high and tight
Who are proud to be the first ones in the fight
Semper Fi

Semper Fi
Do or die
So gung-ho to go and pay the price
Here's to Leathernecks
Devil Dogs and Jarheads
Parris Island in July
Never leave a man behind
A great Marine for life
Semper Fi


"Part of Me" by Katy Perry

According to publicists, Katy Perry's video for the song "Part of Me" rubbed some people the wrong way, including feminist author Naomi Wolf.

"Have you all seen the Katy Perry Marines video?" Wolf wrote recently. “It is a total piece of propaganda for the Marines. ... I really want to find out if she was paid by them for making it ... it is truly shameful. I would suggest a boycott of this singer whom I really liked—if you are as offended at this glorification of violence as I am.”

The video begins with Perry severing a relationship and then seeing a sticker, which reads: "All women are created equal, then some become Marines." Perry cuts off her hair and enlists. Perry goes through training as she sings. The video had nearly 14 million YouTube plays within the first five days of its posting on March 21.

Perry hasn't replied to Wolf's comments. When the video debuted, Perry took time to Twitter those who count with her: "Thank u to everyone for the love & support on the video, I have SO MUCH respect for anyone serving any role in the service after this shoot!"

According to MTV, Perry shot the video in February at Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base near Oceanside, Calif. "Literally, I was like, 'I'm gonna join the service. I'm gonna join the Marines,' " she said when the video debuted. "We used only Marines. ... For three days, I was a wannabe Marine, which was so difficult."

"Part of Me," co-produced by Dr. Luke and Max Martin and co-written by Bonnie McKee, is included on "Teenage Dream: The Complete Confection."

Naomi Wolf may howl propaganda, but the Marines gave “Part of Me” the eagle, globe and anchor stamp of approval. Besides, most of them have never heard of Naomi Wolf.


Cpl Todd Love Plays Bach

Cpl Todd Love, a U.S. Marine wounded in Afghanistan, plays Bach Solfeggietto on piano. He is part of the MusiCorps program at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.



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