SWJ Music Review – BoneS Fork, Green Berets, and Memorial Day
By Dave Maxwell
Like on most weekends, I sat down on the back deck in the sun to read a book while listening to some music. On this Memorial Day weekend, I turned to a playlist of two albums from a little known band called BoneS Fork. I chose them not just because of their good music, or that the band members are known as “the Green Berets who started a rock band,” or because I had the honor of serving with the lead singer, Rob Dufresne, in the 1st Special Forces Group. The most important reason is because the music and lyrics of the songs had special meaning for me, and I think they will for many servicemembers on Memorial Day. This is music for soldiers and for anyone who wants to feel what soldiers might feel through music.
The band draws its name from Bones Fork Creek in North Carolina out in the Fort Bragg/Camp Mackall area where the Special Forces Qualification Course takes place. Every Special Forces soldier has crossed Bones Fork Creek at night in the cold of winter and the heat of the summer. Although somewhat unique to Special Forces and those who have trained at Camp Mackall, every military member has experienced some similar training in a location that is imprinted on his or her psyche for the rest of their life.
The two albums are called Goat Tree (2016) and Beautiful Circle (2021). The music on these two albums is about life, love, and loss, as well hardship, fighting, camaraderie, and, yes, dying. The music ranges from rock: classic, hard, and with a tinge of country, to ballads and the light- hearted, with humor soldiers might appreciate. The vocals are outstanding, the bass lines are haunting, the guitar playing is top notch, and the percussion reaches deep. Every song has a story and a message, and they will bring back memories of service and in a number of songs, memories those we served with who did not make it home. Even an instrumental, I See the Light, will make the listener ponder life.
Finish the Fight is the perfect song to describe combat and fighting through, with, and by indigenous forces while being backed up by the greatest military power in the world. A B-1 bomber, a “Bone” is only a radio call away when troops are in contact. Walked Among Giants reminds us of exactly who we served with and in whose footsteps we have followed. And so many who blazed the trail for us did not make it back. Mefloquine Dreams is the kind of irreverent and dark humor solders love. Anyone who has taken mefloquine for malaria while deployed has either experienced the dreams described or who knows someone who has.
Listening to these two albums will give you a feeling of being in a team room with your brothers reminiscing about old times and those who did not come home. In fact, Beautiful Circle provides exactly that as BoneS Fork performs from the front porch of a cabin in Pineland (where every Green Beret has dual citizenship).
While there are many songs that will stir memories of service and the good times, there are those that make us recall those who we have lost, and the pain loved ones feel. Fist Full of Flowers and Where I Need To Be will evoke personal memories and thoughts unique to each of us. The paradoxical Rolling With The Heat is perhaps the best description of being on a Special Forces A Team, “with my ODA brothers,” while trying to get back home to be with the one he loves who is waiting for him only to have him return under the colors of our nation.
Lastly there is an up tempo version of the Ballad of the Green Beret. I like this very much, but the truth is my wife is a traditionalist and does not like any that is not an exact replication of Barry Sadler’s version. But regardless of version, the end of this song should bring us both somber recognition of and respect for the sacrifices of those who gave their last full measure for their brothers in arms and our nation, and the hope for the future as their children will someday pin silver wings upon their chest.
As we enjoy the Memorial Day holiday with barbecue and beer as our fallen comrades would want us to, put BoneS Fork on the stereo, listen to the words, and explain them to those who need to understand them. Those who did not come home are honored by the music and would want us spending good times with our families, friends, and fellow citizens and soldiers and remembering why they sacrificed so we may continue to pursue the American dream.