event still seems to get the most attention and refection of anything I've
ever done, but at the time it didn't seem (and still doesn't seem)
like such a big deal - at least for me. For the country . . . okay, it
probably did go bigger than I thought it could - but glad it accomplished
it's goal, and this is all I ever wanted from it - nothing nore - nothing
less. Goal achieved, I'm very happy with just that. Now, almost 20 years
later, I am still questioned about all of it, so to make things easy, here's
the story of how I made a song, and started a national movement . . .
September 1990, it's the beginning stages of the
Gulf War. Back at that time, it was Operation Desert Shield. We had soldiers
there, and more on the way. A few of them were close personal friends I
grew up with. My brothers (extended family - not blood relations).
I sat down and thought long and hard - all of
about 15 minutes. I resolved that the best thing I could do considering
the circumstances, was make a public declaration of support. NOT
support of a potential war, but support of my ... OUR ... brothers
and sisters - sons and daughters, who are willing to lay down their lives
to keep us protected from aggression and attack - threat and abuse. Soldiers,
who for over 200 years have died so I could live in a country where I am
completely free to choose my own destiny.
first wrote: A Message For G.I. Joe.
This song is a letter to my fictional brother Joseph (G.I. Joe), I thought
of the words imagining that my little brother Jake was on his way to the
Persian Gulf. What would I say to him? I remembered a quote from General
Patton, who said: "it's not your job to die for your country, it's
your job to make the other guy die for his", or something like that.
Not that I completely agree with a statement like that in it's entirety,
but I grabbed up the "I don't want my brothers to die" part and
made that the body of the song.
The chorus of the song is the actual message
to ALL of our G.I. Joes:
"Don't you die for me! If there's
a fight remember we have superiority. Just stay on guard - I'm with you
there. Set 'em straight and get back home!"
Once the song was done (took about 3 hours for
that one - still can't believe how well it flew together), I set out to
make it as public as I could. I had media ties due to my video work, so
I called up a friend at a local station and let them know I had something
hot for them. I lied. They thought I was declaring an official war protest
- something they were waiting to pounce on. And in the beginning I thought
I was destroying the trust by eluding to something like that, but later
"hot item" turned out to be true - thank God.
Like I said, I knew the media was gearing up to
exploit war protesting and protesters big time. I decided I did NOT want
my brothers spit on for doing what our government asked of them - politics
or no politics! They don't make the call, the chief does - good or bad.
Not my call either, and I'm truly not qualified to do more than go with
the flow, if I haven't done the proper research. If I have, then I
should rally people, if need be, or get off my butt and become a politician
and do something about it!
What I was qualified to do (at that time), was
to support my bothers (no, not war)...
the reporter arrived, she was ready to capture the first real hot war protester.
Once she was there, I flipped the table on her and hit her with what I
was really up to. Initially she was not happy, but within a few minutes
she began to see where I was going, and agreed that such an approach would
be different, but much better in the long run for the country. She took
a risk in doing the piece as it is now seen in the news video. She is my
I've had the word "hero" thrown at me
a few times in relation to these events - outspoken at times? Yes. Hero?
Not for this. But, if anyone is a hero here, it's the reporter who went
out on a limb professionally. She is as much to do with getting any credit
for what happened here, as I was for thinking it up. If she hadn't agreed
with me on doing the piece as it is, the end result following the Gulf
War very well could have been the same (publicly) as it was at the end
of the Vietnam War, and that was NOT acceptable to me, then or now!
We did the piece - the deed was done. Next was
whether or not the News Director would side with us and let it run. He
did, and it aired! Then the true magic happened, and my biggest heroes
of all: CNN. They picked up the piece, and ran it nationally. I got calls
from friends and family in New York and Texas. Considering how many people
I heard from, the piece had to have been played up the wazoo!
days after the first airing on local TV, I got another call from my friend
in New York who was watching the piece yet again on CNN while we were on
the phone. I could hear myself singing in the background. I was flabbergasted!
came offers of re-recording, radio air play, free mass duplication of cassettes
and printed materials; t-shirts and radio interviews and other show appearances
and interviews. It was crazy - but in a really good way. My message was
getting out there and being very well received. Other REAL celebrities
followed my example and a true "movement" was born. I couldn't
be happier or more proud (with exception of the birth of my kids of course).
Without further banter, you can listen to the
song in a few different ways using the links in the following box. At the
top is the latest MP3 master of "GI Joe",
dubbed straight from the last Studio Master Tape. Best sounding version
to date. Also available is MP3 are files of:
The first radio broadcast
of GI Joe on Rock & Roll 102.1 (KGMG) in San Diego(transmitter
in Oceanside) [this is the original home recorded version, as was originally
requested by the radio station, and for some reason it played slower on
their broadcast system than the speed we thought we'd recorded it. This
led to Rolltop Records, owned by Tim Coffman, stepping up and volunteering
to re-record GI Joe for normal radio air play.
if you try to play the file from the internet, you might trip a security
warning from your browser. You will have to "Allow Blocked Content"
to allow your MP3 player program (Quicktime, etc.) to play the file.
is the latest copy - digitized on 10-26-09 right from the studio master
tape recorded at Rolltop Records.
you want to copy the file to your computer, right click the link and select
"Save Target As", and put it into a directory you can remember.
You can even rename the file to something easier for you to remember what
for this page is titled: GI Joe Project
- in player at bottom of page.
it didn't stop there either.Oh
no. After I had finished G.I. Joe I wrote two more songs; one an
instrumental called: Desert Search, and Yellow Ribbons
(sorry, not available here yet).
of what was happening, I had already resolved that when the holidays came
up that year, I would decorate our Christmas Tree with nothing but yellow
ribbons. This based on some earlier news pieces where some people back
east had appeared on the news tying yellow ribbons on trees for the first
returning soldiers from the Persian Gulf (as referenced by the old Tony
Orlando song: Tie A Yellow Ribbon On The Old Oak Tree). Which, if you think
about it, were probably the first real Support The Troops type messages
that aired. Again, CNN was responsible for making those quite public -
With thoughts of my own upcoming Christmas Tree
(to be covered by only yellow ribbons), I wrote Yellow Ribbons
as another message to G.I. Joe, telling him about our tree covered by only
yellow ribbons in his honor. I thought that one would just be a private
support song, but when the initial craziness of G.I. Joe settled down I
was again approached by media, who was looking for a Round Two.
I introduced Yellow Ribbons, but
none of us were sure what to do with it at first. The press exercised their
muscle, and the next thing I knew I was sending a broadcast half-track
of the song to Bob Hope, so he could deliver it to Armed Forces Radio during
his USO visit to the troops. What an honor that was! The only thing better
would have been going there to do the song in person for the troops.
As the holidays pressed on two things happened:
ONE: I received a request from a lady in
charge of special services at the USO headquarters in San Diego. She was
wondering, after seeing me a whole bunch of times on TV and hearing GI
Joe on the radio, if I might have the clout to get some Christmas Trees
to some military families caught off guard by the deployment, and had no
funds for a tree on their own.
It was December 17th, and In a matter of minutes,
I was on the phone to Jon Cooper, and we headed out to Pinery Tree Farms
in Escondido. Once there, I asked the owner if he could spare some trees
for the families. He said he could do that. We were thrilled.
the spot, I was moved to thank him in a better way, and then the idea came
on how to get the trees decorated just like mine... I told him, as thanks,
I would hold a special mini-concert of Yellow Ribbons and invite the press
(who wanted more from me anyway). This would get him some nice exposure.
He responded with his own thanks, and took us to a special area where he
had some LIVE premium VIP trees. He let us choose the three we needed -
the best he had!
Wanting to help support the cause, the next to
get involved was the manager of The Grove shopping center in Lemon Grove,
who donated the venue for our small concert, and all the gear to hold the
live outdoor event. The concert was held on Saturday, December 22nd, where
we took the trees, and I sang the song every 15 minutes. The trees turned
yellow from hundreds and hundreds of yellow ribbons tied to them, by the
end of the day.
On Sunday the 23rd, and Monday the 24th Jon and
I delivered the trees. It took two days, as we needed to coordinate with
the families, and the fact that the trees were so large, we could only
deliver one at a time in my small pickup. At 8:00 PM on Christmas Eve,
we delivered the last tree to a pair of happy children, and their teary
eyed mother. Made me feel like Santa Claus!
Following that event came a call from another radio station who had
not been airing our song, due to the exclusivity we gave to 102.1. Never
the less, I was approached with an invitation to appear as a headline act
in a special tribute show to be held on New Year's eve. Jon went to a meeting
and the next thing I knew, I was prepping for a national broadcast live
event, to be carried by NBC. When I asked: "why me?", the answer
was: "Well you're the guy who started all of this - who else?"
The final footage of the video in the player below
entitled: GI Joe Project, ends with footage shot by Jon Cooper with our
old VHS camcorder, from the NBC camera tower at Seaport Village on New
Year's eve, 1990, at the: "New Year's Eve Salute To The Troops",
My brother Joseph joined the forces - going
to see the world
He said this country needs the help of all
Defend our freedom not go baby-sit some crazy
When Joseph left to sail I placed this message
in his hand:
Don't you die for me!
If there's a fight remember we have superiority…
Just stay on guard - I'm with you there…
Set 'em straight and get back home!
I got a letter from Joe telling of a crazy
The people hate us here - this kind of travel
He said to fight for freedom he would do and
die with pride…
The saddest thing is if the fighting starts
he won't know why!
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