Jody was a mythical figure allegedly derived from another mythical character an African-American named Joe D. Grinder. Joe D. Grinder, later shortened to Joe D., surfaced during World War Two and he was the kind of guy who didn't serve in the military, but did everything within his power to "move in on" girlfriends and wives of soldiers while they were away. Joe D., was then changed to Jody and several chants were developed including some credited to an African-American soldier named Duckworth. These Duckworth chants were very rhythmic in nature and were used by sergeants and troop leaders typically in basic and advanced training cycles so as to create cadences or call and response work songs so soldiers marched or ran in rhythm.
I suspect, but don't know with certainty, and I can only speak for the Army, that Jody served a very important psychological function for the Armed Forces. The cadences were such that soldiers knew that they were stuck together with other men during these training cycles and Jody became the person soldiers could use to vent their frustrations. Here's an example of how Jody was used to discourage soldiers from going AWOL and to prepare them for possibly losing a wife or girlfriend. "Ain't no use in going home. Jody's got your girl and gone. Gonna get a three day pass. Just to kick Jody's ass. Sound off 1, 2. Sound off 1,2 - 3,4.
Jody was a despicable character in every sense of the word and these cadences of numerous varieties voiced in uniform by marching soldiers formed a psychological barrier between the soldier and the guy at home who wasn't serving. In a way, these cadences forced soldiers to accept the fact they were stuck in the military and they would be home for a long time and that many soldiers would lose their wife or girlfriend to other men while overseas. Hence the name Jody.
In training cycles, marching occurred with great regularity and Jody cadences were used over and over to combat homesickness, to express everyday complaints about the military, to instill confidence in a unit and to denigrate the guy who was at home not serving.
Several years ago, as we were writing our Vietnam CD, Al Torsiello, Ricki E. Bellos and myself thought Jody would be a logical song to start off the CD. We wrote the song and got it demoed and we were very satisfied with the result.
Then down on Ft. Myers Beach, FL I was talking to a songwriter/performer Rick Robinson whom I had known for a number of years about our military CD that we had written but not yet compiled. I learned for the first time that Rick was a veteran and a Vietnam vet. He expressed an interest in contributing in some way to the CD and because I liked him and respected his abilities and military service, I asked him to sing Jody. He did such a good job that we kept Rick's version for the CD. Rick passed away unexpectedly last winter but I'll never forget the look of pride on his face when he sang his songs about military life and learning his version of Jody made the cut.
Jody didn't find all of the guy's wives and girlfriends, but he found my girlfriend. Jody can be found at www.vietnamthereandback.com