Posted tagged ‘Military’

New Music Review: “Long Way Back” by Hillbilly Vegas

October 31, 2014

I must confess, when I stumbled upon Hillbilly Vegas a few weeks ago, I didn’t know what to expect.

As I looked at the name, I imagined Duck Dynasty meets the guys from Pawn Stars. In reality, after checking out their website, and listening to a ton of their music, I’ve found them to be more of a mixture of Blackhawk, Bon Jovi and John Mellencamp. Sounds good, right?

They intrigued me and I can say that I’ve been listening to their upcoming single, “Long Way Back”, on repeat for the last 8 hours straight (and I’m still not tired of it). From the vocals of lead singer Steve Harris, to the guitar work of Johnny Reed, as well as the rest of the band including Troy Hollinger, Robb Edwards and Stacey Thornburg, this song, which was co-written by Harris and Reed, is destined to be a hit.

Vegas

Before I get to the music, let me start with a little background.

“Long Way Back” is a very special song for the members of Hillbilly Vegas. According to the band, the upcoming video is going to be used by an organization known as Battle Saint who works tirelessly raising money to build treatment facilities for PTSD and traumatic brain injuries in returning veterans.  The Zac Brown Band and the creators of HBO’s Band of Brothers are also supporters of the organization.  The soon to be released video for “Long Way Back” will feature the great things Battle Saint does along with a number of veterans and their families. I, for one, can’t wait.

Now, onto the song itself:

Judging by the description above, this obviously isn’t a song simply about graduating high school and getting out of town as fast as you can. There’s a lot more to it than that, and that’s why “Long Way Back” is indeed a special song. While the melody and the music pull you in, it’s the lyrics that hooked me, and reminded me of my adolescence and my own struggle, wanting to get out of where I was. They say the grass is always greener, right? In the end, I knew it would be a long way back, and I still haven’t gotten there just yet.

“There’s a two-lane, blacktop, leading in and out of town”

I think a lot of us can relate to that.I grew up in Petaluma, California, which was about 30,000 people when I lived there. For the most part, we had two roads in and out of town, and both were just two lanes. It’s a symbol of old town America, the towns we grew up in.

“…and nothing ever happens no matter how long you hang around”

Remind you of your teen years growing up? I don’t care how large your hometown was, it never, ever felt like anything was going on. You always needed to be somewhere else. Where the girls were. Where the parties were. Certainly, not there. It’s funny how your perspective changes once you get out. Once you see the world. The good. The bad. The scary. Makes you think about how safe, and enjoyable, your hometown really was.

“There’s a girl back there that I used to call babe. Yes she said she’d wait but I bet by now she’s called it a day.”

While I never served, many members of my family did across a number of branches of the military. I’ve also seen it in movies where the boy heads off to battle, only to return, afraid that she’s no longer waiting for him. I can’t imagine the heartbreak. But I think that there’s a double meaning here. What about the soldiers who return who aren’t just afraid of the girl they loved and lost, but that everyone has forgotten about them. What about their kids birthdays they missed. Anniversaries. Graduations. The list goes on and on. These men and women give up everything to protect us. They should NEVER be forgotten.

“But if I ever find my way back. From wherever I’ve been. I ain’t leaving again.”

Ain’t that the truth. I know that if I could do it all over again, and I could go back and live my life in that small town, I would. Not sure why I wanted to get out so fast. Maybe it was the small town atmosphere. Maybe it was looking for my freedom. Either way, I miss that small town life. I’ve tried to bring it back by moving to a small town here in Oregon, but it’ll never be the same as my hometown. I can’t imagine the feelings that the men and women of the military have when they return home. After a year, two years or more. Away from their families…their friends. It might be a long way back, but I’d never want to leave again.

My Final Take

A good song…you’ll remember. A great song…you’ll never forget!

“Long Way Back” is certainly the latter. It’s a well written piece of lyrical genius with plenty of emotion to make you want to put it on repeat (like I did) and listen over and over again. This isn’t a fly-by-night song that you’ll hear on your local station a few times, only to disappear into the abyss. “Long Way Back” has staying power. It’s different than anything I’ve heard recently on country radio, and that makes it special.

This is the type of song that takes a band like Hillbilly Vegas and pulls them from obscurity, and puts them directly in the center of the country music map.

When you get the chance, check them out on Facebook and follow them on Twitter at @hillbillyvegas.

You can also find “Long Way Back” on iTunes and Amazon.com. The song comes out next week (November 6, 2014) and I suggest you take a listen today. You won’t regret it!

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Bombers’ Bodies Photos Condemned

April 18, 2012

According to Defense Secretary Leo Panetta, photos of U.S. soldiers posing with bodies of suspected Afghan insurgents depict behavior that “absolutely violates” U.S. regulations and values.

From CNN:

“This is not who we are, and it’s certainly not who we represent when it comes to the great majority of men and women in uniform who are serving there,” he said.

The two photos published by the paper are among 18 provided by a U.S. soldier who wanted “to draw attention to the safety risk of a breakdown in leadership and discipline,” The Times reported.

The military said an investigation is under way.

WikiLeaks Charge Punishable by Death

March 3, 2011

The Army has notified Bradley Manning, a prime suspect in the WikiLeaks case, that he faces 22 more charges in connection with allegedly downloading secret information from computers in Iraq.

Worst case scenerio? The Death Penalty!

From CNN:

The most serious new charge alleges that he aided the enemy by making this information public. That charge is punishable by death. A news release from the Army said the prosecution team “has notified the defense that the prosecution will not recommend the death penalty,” but technically it is up to the commander overseeing the case to make the final decision about the death penalty.

All told, Manning, a military intelligence analyst from Oklahoma, now faces a total of 34 charges in the case, including:

— Wrongfully causing intelligence to be published on the internet

— Theft of public records

— Transmitting defense information

— Transferring classified data onto his personal computer

— Disclosing classified information concerning the national defense.

Two American Soldiers Killed in Frankfurt Airport Shooting

March 2, 2011

Two soldiers died and two have been seriously injured following an incident today when a bus transporting U.S. military personnel came under gunfire today at Frankfurt Airport.

It’s been reported that German police have identified the shooting suspect as 21 year old Arif Uka, a Kosovo citizen.

From CNN:

The troops killed and injured are U.S. Air Force airmen from Lakenheath base in the United Kingdom, the U.S. official said, emphasizing that the information was only preliminary.

They were security forces on their way to a deployment, the source added without saying where they were heading.

They were flying commercial, according to the source.

Last World War I Veteran Dies at 110

February 28, 2011

Frank W. Buckles, the last known U.S. veteran of World War I, died yesterday at the age of 110.

From the New York Times:

He was only a corporal and he never got closer than 30 or so miles from the Western Front trenches, but Mr. Buckles became something of a national treasure as the last living link to the two million men who served in the American Expeditionary Forces in France in “the war to end all wars.”

Frail, stooped and hard of hearing, but sharp of mind, Mr. Buckles was named grand marshal of the National Memorial Day Parade in Washington in 2007. He was a guest at Arlington National Cemetery on Veterans Day 2007 for a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns. He was honored by Defense Secretary Robert Gates at the Pentagon and met with President George W. Bush at the White House in March 2008.

United States Senators played host to him at the Capitol in June 2008 for the impending 90th anniversary of the World War I armistice. And he appeared before a Senate subcommittee in December 2009 to support legislation named in his honor to bestow federal status on a World War I memorial on the National Mall built in the 1930s.

South Korea on Alert After Military Drill

December 20, 2010

After days of worry about possible North Korean aggression over a South Korean military drill, live-fire exercises ended peacefully with no immediate retaliation.

From CNN:

North Korea said over the weekend that the drill could ignite a war and that it would respond militarily to the exercise. On Monday, North Korean military leaders said retaliation wasn’t necessary — but issued a stern warning to South Korea and the United States, according to the state-run Korean Central News Agency.

The North also agreed to a series of actions after former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Bill Richardson urged the country not to respond aggressively.

Those steps include allowing monitors from the International Atomic Energy Agency access to the nation’s uranium enrichment facility; negotiating a deal for a third party, such as South Korea, to buy fresh-fuel rods from North Korea; and discussing the formation of a military commission consisting of representatives from North Korea, South Korea and the United States to monitor and prevent conflicts in the disputed areas of the West Sea, Richardson’s statement said.

Repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Stalls in Senate

December 9, 2010

Republicans have blocked a repeal of the ban on openly gays in the military, potentially ending any possibilty for overturning the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell’’ policy anytime soon.

From The New York Times:

In a blaze of unusual bipartisan fury, a military policy bill that would repeal the ban on gay and lesbian soldiers serving openly in the military stalled in the Senate on Thursday, severely diminishing the chances of ending the Clinton-era policy this year.

On a vote of 57 to 40, Senator Harry Reid, the majority leader, found himself 3 votes short of the 60 needed to clear a procedural hurdle that would have opened the way for passage of the measure.