Monday, January 27, 2014


Dedicated in honor of Wounded Warriors who are heroes along with the other armed forces

Copyright © Helene Smith, 2013
The Music Maker by Helene Smith

"Each war grows worse till men redeem it, and wars more evil, ere all wars cease."

–G. K. Chesterton, A Song of Defeat

What the world needs now is music to overcome the strain of insane wars.  Lyrics by Hal David and music by Burt Bacharach–"What the world needs now is love, sweet love–is not just for some but for everyone."
Among angels for peace are the song birds–musicians so influential their voices helped bring about the end of the uncivil, civil Vietnam War. Phil Ochs, folksinger on behalf of civil rights, wrote  "one good song with a message can move people more deeply than a thousand rallies."  There are scores of albums crying out against torturous, bloody aggression–but the same description covers all wars.
 So for a sampling of lyrics of war–the worst, endless serial crime on Earth–let's start out with United States wars against First Americans, known in Europe as the Seven Years Wars – in the colonies known as the first biological war of genocide in the western world–all of the Americas–North, Central, and South.  Bruce Cockburn, who earned enough awards through his music to be honored in the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, wrote the following lyrics–a poignant history, only the top of the volcano erupting with conquest and youth-killing wars:

It's not breech-loading rifles and wholesale slaughter
It's kickback and thugs and diverted water
Treaties get signed and the papers change hands
But they might as well drafted the agreements in sand

Noble Savage on the cinema screen
An Indian's good when he cannot be seen
And the so-called white-so called race
Digs for itself a pit of disgrace

For centuries non-"Indians" recorded these unjust times with newcomers only fixated on themselves. But the oral histories of traditionalist wars against foreign conquest are now just beginning to be published–intentional extermination yet to be filmed and recorded in a flame of religious fire, an excuse to clear the way for colonial advancement called the "divine" Manifest Destiny.
David Gerrold said through music "Tchaikovsky was the only winner in the War of 1812." In his epic tale of relentless aggression, The War Against the Chtorr, Gerrold wrote "Only people who have never lived through a war advocate it so eagerly." Musicians protesting wars are the most vocal harbingers of peace with many honored in a variety of halls of fame. Through the Revolutionary War and up to the latest aggression, it is estimated that over 600 peace songs deploring war have been written, according to one source.  However, since music reflects the yearning for peace through the centuries, there are probably millions more lyrics for world harmony that have not been part of the count.
During the War of 1812 Francis Scott Key wrote lyrics to John Stafford Smith’s song composed for a London social club or pub, that became the U.S. national anthem. The Star Spangled Banner graphically reflects war–“the rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air.” Patrick Gilmore (writing under name Francis Lambert) wrote the timeless When Johnny Comes Marching Home and other war songs during the Civil War.
 WW I provoked more anti-war music as it did its sequel, WW II. During the later war Gene Autry and Vaughn Monroe recorded When the Lights Go On Again All Over the World. During the same war Harold Adamson and Jimmie McHugh wrote Coming Home on a Wing and a Prayer, with the hope of wars to end as youths work for a better world free of organized bloodbaths since war is revenge on steroids.
The following musicians and war songs are a mere smattering of all the anti-war inspiration, such as War Song (Ancient Times) lyrics, an album by C. Samper and music by J. Lopez. Other anti-war albums were made by Country Joe McDonald and the Fish, such as War, War, War.  Lydia Fish's songs against war is a long, ongoing, growing list.
All-time greats, Willie Nelson, Pete Seeger, and Woody Guthrie keep strumming along the Hudson River with soul music for a greener Earth in boats with these activists leading the clean-up of the river believed to have been impossible. For years these musicians were ostracized for objecting to war and its contamination. The last trickle of pollution came from the General Electric Company, with all hands on board the Woody and the Clear Water working hard at helping the environment.
 Canadian-born Neil Young’s Flags of Freedom and Living with War, part of his war album, reflect the brotherhood of man and sisterhood, too. Through uplifting lyrics Young makes sure no one forgets combat troops who never make it home. With him, war is not the last resort. It is no resort. Song writer Eric Bogle in his Wilderness album sings out for Earth, trees, sky and peace. Echoes from the voice of songwriter John Denver, anti-war protestor having produced 300 recordings of his music. His music continues to be sung about peace and saving the environment, wetlands and nature. Remember his song, Let This be a Voice.
Graham Nash said peace and love are stronger than hate, with young soldiers trained to kill young soldiers in foreign lands. He recalls a childhood seeing his homeland, England, in flames and smoking ruins. He wrote about teaching your children well “their father’s hell,” and co-wrote other songs for peace. Haunted by war, British John Lennon died, but not his soul, for his firm belief in reforming the world through Give Peace a Chance, with Leon Russell and his song about peace, too. Lennon, who said "War is over–when you want it," with the  “Beatles” sang for world harmony and ending the war in Vietnam. Paul McCartney and actor George Clooney, nephew of singer Rosemary Clooney, were appointed in different years as United Nations messengers of peace. Clooney speaks out about the genocide of war.
Listen to Johnny Cash’s anti-war lyrics about a soldier getting over aggression and Bobby Darin’s The Simple Song of Freedom– “Tell the people everywhere, we the people here don’t want war.” Composer Paul Robson sees through the propaganda of warmongers, “When the issue of peace or war is put squarely to the American people, they have registered for peace.”  Oscar Hammerstein revealed, "Peace is the never-ending process, the work of many decisions."
Fats Domino wrote about a friend killed on Hamburger Hill, the day the sun stood still–gun fire spilled blood–as he sees through their masks of war–“a sad high price to pay for politics and war.” Other songs mourning wretched war are Paul Simons War Time Prayer and Bruce Springsteen’s Mrs. McGrath, an Irish ballad about foreign wars, and “living on blood and a mother’s pain.”
Called “the messenger of peace,” Stevie Wonder’s (real name Steveland Hardaway Morris) songs reflect his conviction, “I always have been against war, and always will be against war, any war, anytime.”  Rapper Boots Riley’s song Head refers to the chief of state and in The Coup he sings about malfeasance leading up to the Iraqi War.
 Eddie Vedder’s lyrics in Pearl Jam’s forceful album–the song World Wide Suicide–reflectsit’s a shame to a world of pain, what does it mean when a war takes over, it’s the same everyday in a hell man made.” Paul Simon sings about conflict-ravished families, as Nashville’s Dixie Chicks proved to be right about corrupt politics, the public not permitted to see row after row of coffins of young soldiers. Another protestor is Elton John against war and its aftermath. 2016 Nobel Peace Prize for Literature Award winner, Bob Dylan wrote and sang Masters of War. It bemoans government-built death planes and bombs, as cowards hide behind desks. "You've thrown the worst fear that can ever be hurled, fear to bring children into the world, for threatening my baby unborn and unnamed, you ain't worth the blood that runs in your veins." He sees through their masks of war. He was referring to the government. His Chimes of Freedom ring out–“for the warriors whose strength is not to fight, refugees on unarmed roads of flight.”
Eric Clapton, with his blues/rock songs and blue guitar boat, is a war son of a Canadian WW II father and English mother. Luciano Pavarotti sang an emotionally soul-rending duet with Clapton, a concert on behalf of war children and orphans left behind. And lest we forget (a phrase in one of Rudyard Kipling’s poem) the “Cranberries” sang War Child lyrics, too.
Dolly Parton’s heartfelt song Daddy Won’t Be Home Anymore, is as moving as “The Despairs” singing Burnt Out Souls–“A burnt out life sold to war, a wasted youth searching for a lost childhood.” Rolling Stone songs include Mick Jagger’s War Baby–“children strong and pure heed not the gods of war.”
Michael Jackson’s Earth Song–“All the children dead from war–Did you ever stop to notice the crying Earth, the weeping shore?” What Leonardo DeCaprio is concerned over–the poisoned war environment. Jack Nicholson and Robert Rafelson wrote the “War Chant” performed by the Monkees–Give me a W, give me an A and give me an R–“Rich man’s war, poor man’s fight”–as fashion designer Jean-Paul Sartre said "When the rich wage wars, it's the poor who pay for it"–also on an early tavern sign showing a miserable man making his way across Earth.
Frank Sinatra early in his life was averse to hatred and racism as he raised funds for veteran housing while singing songs of love. He and Sammy Davis, Jr. were adamantly against war. Davis’s lyrics for peace still memorable go straight to the heart. Sinatra spoke of “the revered Prince of Peace, and how “more blood has been spilled in his name than any other figure in history. The modern Prince has some of the most anti-war lyrics in his time. Sinatra said, “It’s all one world, pal. We’re all neighbors”– amen, my friend, amen, what brings to mind Pangaea, Earth before it was literally pulled and pushed apart into continents and islands on tectonic rock plates. I stood alone by Sinatra's grave at Cathedral City in California. At his headstone I looked up and saw a swaying branch with leaves fluttering in the wind. In my mind I could hear the breezes whisper, “I did it my way!” On his grass grave a message from a fan was written on cardboard–“He may be dead but his music lives on.”
Today Barry Manilow who sings at Nobel Peace Laureate performances in Oslo, Norway brings the world together in song and compassion. “We can chase down all our enemies, bring them to their knees. We can bomb the world to pieces, but we can’t bomb it into peace,”–said musician Michael Franti, leader of  “Spearhead.” According to Singer Tony Bennett, pacifist (along with his son, Danny), “War is the lowest form of human behavior.” Bennett found glorified war to be a complete paradox after fighting in WW II Battle of the Bulge.
Again, Pete Seeger singing Down by the Riverside, encourages militants to "study war no more." Along the same Hudson River Bob Lusk reflects a bold social conscience as he became a peace activist, a member of Veterans for Peace and the ”Kings Mall Seven” musicians–all arrested for reading names of soldiers who died in the 2003 Bush invade, attack, and occupy war. In Lusk's song Read Me the Dead, the chorus lyrics are, “Cursed be the leaders who shamed memories of foot soldiers, veterans, each one a hero. These are their names, their battles have ended, we stand in their honor, we stand here for peace”–all victims of U.S. military “shock and awe” strategy. Al Jolson, singer of many minstrels was the first musician to entertain the troops abroad. And he paid his own way.
Dedicative Bob Hope and his troubadour troupe entertained troops in foreign wars for fifty years. "We must see that peace represents a sweeter music, a cosmic melody that is far superior than the disorder of war," said Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He also observed "We have guided missiles and misguided men." Peace activist, David Swanson, author of War, No More–a Case for Abolition, wrote "War is a Lie."
Ted Turner, founder of CNN and Turner Broadcasting Company, said, "Music has a great power for bringing people together."  He compared sports to wars that do not kill. Regarding everything we try to do, wars disrupt and deform the young–all youth-killer aggression. Sadly, women in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and Iran  (from the first Persian Gulf war when Iraq attacked Iran with U.S. help) are traumatized by endless war. They fear pregnancy, as well as combat mothers in America and in other nations–all victims of militants sucking on nuclear pacifiers for false safety.
Many women from the Middle East lost their husbands and sons in battle from the illegal Persian Gulf invasions. They undergo additional grief of burying their infants alone–unrecorded tragedies never making the news.
Sophie Kerr, a writer born in 1880, wrote, "If peace only had the music and pageant of war, there'd be no wars."  In the Jewish Bible is written, "Seek peace and pursue it."  American Indian, Black Hawk, said, "There can never be peace between nations unless it is first known that true peace is within the soul of man."  Mohandus Gandhi said that the worst wars are in the minds of man. And it is these battles that must first be won. One of Great Mahatma's favorite songs is When Hearts Are Hardand "grace is lost from life" bringing on a burst of song.  
Hard-times come no more in wars, what Stephen Collins Foster (1826-1864), Father of American Music, included in his song,
"It's a sigh that is wafted across the troubled wave
It's a wail that is heard upon the shore
It's a dirge that is murmured across the lonely plains
Oh, hard times come no more."  
What every combat soldier knows more than any civilian. The aftermath of wars causing poverty and all troubles within Pandora's Box of evil. Foster's lyrics was about "nations quarreling who is the stronger," and "slaughtering men for glory's sake, shameful rivalries of creed with religions shorn of pride, with charity trimming her lamp and let us aid it all we can, ev'ry women, ev'ry man, even the smallest help, if rightly giv'n, makes the impulse stronger–but 'twill be strong enough some day, wait a little longer." 
By now the world has waited too long, with all time running out. The new rally cry is for all wars to cease since even traditional weapons are illicit and must be enforced with punitive measures against toxic munitions pitting youths against youths in genocide in aborting embryos–chemical, radioactive warfare deforming infants, from parent to child DNA, and crippling youths for life. Together we can make hard times come no more!