Monday, May 26, 2008

A boy cries out for his mama, before he dies for his home

Red and black balloons blow across the wide lawns where collapsed folding chairs are piled ready for transport beneath the sweep of the enormous tents that had been set up for Wesleyan's graduation, and of course, for Barack Obama's visit (lots of good stuff on Wesleying this morning regarding the event).

This is the day when my neighborhoods shifts rhythms to the summer mode. With five houses on my block completely empty for the summer, the neighborhood would be something of a quiet ghost town if it weren't for the hoodlums who traverse the street at all hours shouting into cell phones as if the cells were tin cans attached with a taut string.

This morning we'll head down to the Memorial Day Parade where I, for one, will consider how readily our leaders dispose of the plentiful bodies of our patriotic young men and women. The dead are our country's heroes. The families pay the most horrible price. Our leaders are culpable. As Phil Och's sang, "It's always the old who lead us to the war. It's always the young who fall."

Michael Roth's words from yesterday's commencement echo large:

"You will hear people tell you that the greatest protection against violence is surveillance, that greater security is developed with higher fences to keep out the foreigners, or that we must project violence on distant shores to keep our homes safe. DO NOT BELIEVE THESE MESSAGES. Please remember that your education stands in opposition to non-sense and cruelty; please recall your capacity to create when others around you call for destruction."

For my part, the thought of God Bless America, The Battle Hymn of the Republic, or the National Anthem, while the easy choices for the day, are the least appropriate.

Here's what I'll listen to, and I invite you to join me:

Phil Ochs, I Ain't A' Marchin' Anymore

Billy Bragg, Everywhere (written by Greg Trooper and Syd Griffith)

Eric Bogle, The Green Field's of France (No Man's Land)

The Pogues, The Band Played Waltzin' Matilda (written by Eric Bogle, but turned into a classic by the Pogues)

Dan Bern, After the Parade

Mark Erelli, Volunteers


Anonymous said...

Hi Ed,

Thanks for mentioning Phil Ochs. He is one of my all time favorites. Do you have a version of the "Thresher" that you might be able to post? I haven't heard it since I last had access to a turntable.

Good to see you on Main Street today!

David Bauer

Anonymous said...

I never knew Billy Bragg had covered "Everywhere"! Greg Trooper is one of my favorites and his version is the only one I'd heard. Billy's version sounds good too!