Friday, January 09, 2009

End of Innocence: JimBobby Sings Tom Paxton

Whooee! Well friends an' foes, I been readin' the news about how Canada's deportin' another war resister. And then there's the Canajun soldier who's been charged with murder over in Helmand. And then there's the senseless slaughter takin' place in Gaza.

I've had an old Tom Paxton song runnin' through my head the past couplafew days. I reckon these news stories mighta triggered the memory. Back in about 1966, ol' Tom wrote a song called The Willing Conscript. These days we ain't got conscription anymore but we still got armies an' drill sergeants an' freckle-faced kids showin' up fer duty.

I reckon when our country is fightin' in a war, we all gotta take responsibility. Like another song sez, "the orders come from far away no more; they come from him and you and me..." One thing I figger we don't often take into account when we're sendin' our kids over to Afghanistan is the sacrifice of innocence we demand from our troops.

I ain't posted many audio boogs lately but I recorded up a version of ol' JimBobby singin' the song. I changed the first line so's to make it an enlistee singin' instead of a draftee.

Click here to get a MP3 of ol' JB singin' all a capella like.

(Tom Paxton)

Oh sergeant, I'm a draftee and I've just arrived in camp
I've come to wear the uniform and join the martial tramp
And I want to do my duty, but one thing I do implore
You must give me lessons, sergeant, for I've never killed before

To do my job obediently is all that I desire
To learn my weapon thoroughly and how to aim and fire
To learn to kill the enemy and how to slaughter more
Oh I'll need instructions, Sergeant, for I've never killed before

Now there are rumors in the camp about our enemy
They say that when you see him, he looks just like you and me
But you deny it, Sergeant, and you are a man of war
So you must give me lessons, for I've never killed before

Now there are several lessons that I haven’t mastered yet
I haven't got the hang of how to use the bayonet
If he doesn't die at once, am I to stick him with it more?
Oh I hope you will be patient, for I've never killed before

And the hand grenade is something that I just don't understand
You've got to throw it quickly or you're apt to lose your hand
Does it blow a man to pieces with its wicked muffled roar?
Oh I've got so much to learn because I've never killed before

Well I want to thank you, Sergeant, for the help you've been to me
You've taught me how to kill and how to hate the enemy
And I know that I'll be ready, when they march me off to war
And I know that it won't matter that I've never killed before
I reckon the song's as topical today as it was back in the Vietnam Era.


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