Monday, May 29, 2006

On Things Memorial

On Things Memorial

Today is Memorial Day as celebrated in the United States. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all who have served our country past and present - freedom is indeed not free. A very sad byproduct of war often times is what happens to veterans upon their return to civilian life. I am posting the lyrics from a song by John Prine, Sam Stone. My brother Peter had once remarked that this is one of the most prolific war (or perhaps he said anti-war) songs written. Pete, I have to agree.

John Prine Live
Prime Prine
Great Days: the John Prine Anthology
John Prine
song notes

Sam Stone
©John Prine

Sam Stone came home,
To his wife and family
After serving in the conflict overseas.
And the time that he served,
Had shattered all his nerves,
And left a little shrapnel in his knee.
But the morphine eased the pain,
And the grass grew round his brain,
And gave him all the confidence he lacked,
With a Purple Heart and a monkey on his back.

There's a hole in daddy's arm where all the money goes,
Jesus Christ died for nothin' I suppose.
Little pitchers have big ears,
Don't stop to count the years,
Sweet songs never last too long on broken radios.

Sam Stone's welcome home
Didn't last too long.
He went to work when he'd spent his last dime
And Sammy took to stealing
When he got that empty feeling
For a hundred dollar habit without overtime.
And the gold rolled through his veins
Like a thousand railroad trains,
And eased his mind in the hours that he chose,
While the kids ran around wearin' other peoples' clothes...

Repeat Chorus:

Sam Stone was alone
When he popped his last balloon
Climbing walls while sitting in a chair
Well, he played his last request
While the room smelled just like death
With an overdose hovering in the air
But life had lost its fun
And there was nothing to be done
But trade his house that he bought on the G. I. Bill
For a flag draped casket on a local heroes' hill.

Repeat Chorus


Doug said...

Those are tough lyrics. Good for you for remembering those who come back alive and bring some battle with them.

G said...

Tough indeed - I don't think I ever listen to this song without a tear forming.

Anonymous said...

powerful song. but, whoa... mighty depressing.

my step-dad (now 86) is a survivor of Pearl Harbor. to this day, he can't talk about his experience without a tear forming... tho' he made it through with flesh wounds, compared to some of his buddies. still, he knew why he was in that war, and believes, to this day, it was a worthwhile effort. that said, he's 100% against the war in Iraq.

let's just hope we can get our beautiful troops out of there before too many more are wounded and/or killed.

and, on that note... Hope you have a lovely and peaceful Memorial Day!

Kyahgirl said...

thank you for posting this g. it breaks my heart to see the damage done to those who have been there, and the terrible burdens they bring back with them.

G said...

It can be a very depressing tune, but somehow with John Prine's voice delivering it, it becomes more of a history lesson. If I were half a blogger, I would have been able to post the steps.

Hope you all enjoyed your day/weekend. I am trying to clean up some leftovers from a house renovation, so it's a different sort of memorial day - oh, that's where that went to!

It's interesting to hear veteran's perspective about the current war. Anyway, here's to our troops-bring them home safe.

Anonymous said...

Very beautiful, very moving and very depressing

Anonymous said...

i'm an unsure middle of the fold blogger. i'm struggling with what HTML tags are, and whether i want them, or not. but i love love your new place. oh that we could - each of us in turn - have the "place" that we envision. truth be told, g, your place is so much nicer, especially the deliciously blue-ish, green-ish, pearl-like soul warming color that you choose throughout the stairwell (fondly and forever more known as j's place for ice cream in his orange bowl- the "secret" place) and downstairs. you are too humble, my dear.

john prine captures the pain and loss of man's battle to be proud and valiant and courageous, only to fall prey to an enemy greater than all of us: the one that so many of the "fold" have suffered. that "enemy" has taken so many hours and so much away from many of us, in turn. and yet, look at what's going on now....tony c and sue r "renovators" that create the desire within all of us to take that risk, get a place, and transform it. and pat - goals? i admire one that reaches so hard, that doesn't give up. and until miss r from amherst posts, let me just say here and now that HERS is a life worth living. and indeed, in spite of a disease that wanted to take her out of the game forever, even as she watches the friends around her graduating while she waits it out one more year (the year that was lost battling the dragon of the disease) she is hopeful, and strong, and indeed, grateful. wow. i'm surrounded by heros. and then there's joe h, a quiet soldier who doesn't ever say whether he supports a war, believes in this or that, but without even blinking an eye, he packed one foot locker and headed to the desert for a year.and willing to do whatever it took whatever the mission required. the obedience, training, and commitment - all these and more he brings to our country, willing to defend and protect us. and defend and protect ALL, including those who at times without meaning to, make him feel like his is a life that makes no sense, that what he's doing is stupid, even horrible: supporting "w" and his agenda. well, i want to thank joe h. and all the soldiers, and my dad (a fearless and fearsome tailgunner - anyone ever seen the tail end of a B52 and wonder how a grown man even FIT in there, never mind flew missions over the pacific????)...

love to you all, gina: you are profoundly honest, and talented. and i love you. trish d

G said...

Trish: In a word - thanks. Love you lots. G

Minka said...

Wow, I have read quite a few lyrics around teh blogs for this particular day. But this one has a different perspective and a frightening one at that!

Although it is not comparable, it reminds me when people that return from prison, find life such a tough load to bear.

brian said...

Just checking in after the weekend. See you tommorrow

Anonymous said...

Good lyrics. I've never heard that one.

Hobbes said...

Last August we had dinner at a friend's who works for the VA counseling vets. He said he'd had four groups from Iraq go through the (inevitably inadequate, no matter how good a job he does) program. He himself is a Vietnam vet, and guess what he's reminded of? I hope our government is ready to pick up the tab and we are ready for the hidden costs when all the overtasked soldiers who survived are back among us, but I doubt it.