Wednesday, July 04, 2007

The Patriot's Dream by Gordon Lightfoot

Granted -- Gordon Lightfoot is a Canadian. We probably shouldn't hold that against him. But these lyrics, from his 1972 album Don Quixote, may speak powerfully to Americans (with apologies to Canadians, who for some strange reason like to insist that THEY are Americans, too). I've wondered sometimes why more US citizens weren't protesting the war in Iraq, and why the anti-war movement took so long to gain momentum. Perhaps it's because we didn't have good songs to move us like we did in the 1960s and 1970s during the Viet Nam war. Maybe we need some good new anti-war songs. In the meantime, try this one out. You can listen to it on Ruckus here (http://www.ruckus.com/ruckus/music/track.do?trackId=482768). But, here's the lyrics.

The songs of the wars are as old as the hills.
They cling like the rust on the cold steel that kills.
They tell of the boys who went down to the tracks
In a patriotic manner with the cold steel on their backs.

The patriot's dream is as old as the sky.
It lives in the lust of a cold calloused lie.
Let's drink to the men who got caught by the chill
Of the patriotic fever and the cold steel that kills.

The train pulled away on that glorious night.
The drummer got drunk and the bugler got tight
While the boys in the back sang a song of good cheer
While riding off to glory in the spring of their years.

The patriot's dream still lives on today.
It makes mothers weep and it makes lovers pray.
Let's drink to the men who got caught by the chill
Of the patriotic fever and the cold steel that kills.

Well there was a sad, sad lady
Weeping all night long.
She received a sad, sad message
From a voice on the telephone.
Her children were all sleeping
As she waited out the dawn.
How could she tell those children
That their father was shot down.
So she took them to her side that day
And she told them one by one,
Your father was a good man ten thousand miles from home.
He tried to do his duty and it took him straight to hell.
He might be in some prison, I hope he's treated well.

Well there was a young girl watching in the early afternoon
When she heard the name of someone who said he'd be home soon.
She wondered how they got him, but the papers did not tell.
There would be no sweet reunion, there would be no wedding bells.
So she took herself into her room and she turned the bed sheets down,
And she cried into the silken folds of her new wedding gown.
He tried to do his duty; it took him straight to hell.
He might be in some prison, I hope he's treated well.

Well there was an old man sitting in his mansion on the hill.
And he thought of his good fortune and the time he'd yet to kill.
He called to his wife one day, "Come sit with me awhile."
Turning toward the sunset, he smiled a wicked smile
"Well I'd like to say I'm sorry for the sinful deeds I've done,
But let me first remind you, I'm a patriotic son."
They tried to do their duty and it took 'em straight to hell.
They might be in some prison, I hope they're treated well

The songs of the wars are as old as the hills,
They cling like the rust on the cold steel that kills.
They tell of the boys who went down to the tracks
In a patriotic manner with the cold steel on their backs.

The train pulled away on that glorious night,
The drummer got drunk and the bugler got tight
While the boys in the back sang a song of good cheer
While riding off to glory in the spring of their years.

The patriot's dream still lives on today
It makes mothers weep and it makes lovers pray.
Let's drink to the men who got caught by the chill
Of the patriotic fever and the cold steel that kills.


I heard an NPR piece a couple of months ago about a new Neil Young album that was wholly a protest against the war in Iraq. I haven't yet heard it. Hope to soon.

1 comment:

rgraham666 said...

How do. I found this post when I was googling for the lyrics to this song.

Thanks.

As a Canadian I will challenge your thought that we insist on being Americans. Generally, we like you but we are ourselves.

I don't know how familiar you are with Lightfoot's work, but the song Don Quixote might be interesting to you.

Sincerely,
Rob Graham