Americans have often had mixed feelings regarding the armed forces. (Forgive your crusty chronicler a moment for being subjective here.) While I might take issue with sending young people to another country to kill strangers I firmly believe in defending your own territory. (For now we will avoid discussions about the quality of some of our young people today.)
I have often told people of the time my great uncle stood half-naked on the deck of a ship firing off one of the “big guns” while the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. I have no conscientious objection about self-defense; trust me. Mind you, many men in the Phoenix family have served in the military.
Personally, while I was almost talked into joining the Coast Guard (as in “guard” your own “coast”) I never actually served. I did, however, register with Selective Service. Fortunately for you regular readers and (obviously) for me, our military and political leaders during my years of eligibility were perhaps much wiser than they have been in the past decade or so . . . but, I digress . . .)
Let’s focus on the true meaning of Memorial Day. Whether you romantically look upon servicemen as “heroes” (as in G.I. Joe) or consider them as employees of the American taxpayers who didn’t know what else to do, the day itself has a specific purpose. Once known as Decoration Day, Memorial Day is meant to be a day of remembrance of those who have died in wars. In that spirit, I present this playlist. In no particular order, here are the songs:
“A Soldier’s Prayer” – Collin Raye: This is a fitting song for the holiday directly related to soldiers.
“Born In The USA”–Bruce Springsteen: Springsteen is great for anything at all patriotic. More importantly, he mourns the loss of his brother in this tune.
“Bang The Drum Slowly”-–Emmylou Harris: This is a track that will add the voice of a woman to the mix. Besides, holidays like this really pretty much scream out for country artists. What can ya do?
“Battle Hymn of The Republic”–Mitch Miller & His Gang: This is a solemn piece for a solemn holiday. Put it near the beginning before your buddies get drunk and forget the reason their union-protected @sses have the day off with pay.
“Billy Don’t Be A Hero”— Bo Donaldson & The Heywoods: If you ever had me over for the evening—as many women have—you would know I do a great rendition of this in the shower. Besides, it’s a classic. You just have to love a song that tells the tale of a guy who went into the military perhaps without having a clue about anything—was told by his girlfriend to NOT be a “hero” and yet still didn’t listen. The dude’s girl didn’t want to see his name on a red flag flying from a lamppost at taxpayers’ expense, she just wanted him to come home. Did he listen? Nooooooooooooo . . .
“Here Comes The Freedom Train” – Merle Haggard: Again, a bit of country music is required and that’s fine as long as it’s of the same caliber as this particular song.
“Empty Boots”– Carol Williams: Here we have another songstress to break up the mainly male sound here. This was also a favorite of folks online.
“Everyday Angels”–Radney Foster: This was another favorite of folks online. Plus, how many people do YOU know who listen to Radney Foster on a regular basis? Variety in artists is a good thing.
“The Forgotten Soldier Boy”–-The Monroe Brothers: This tune is from 1936. This one adds music from another generation here as well as a different genre.
“Green Fields of France”–Dropkick Murphys: OK. It’s time for a confession. This just seemed like another good excuse to once more include this group on a playlist. As it turns out, a few folks online agreed with me.
“50,000 Names”–George Jones: Again, this list might seem to be a bit heavy on country songs but this is the kinda thing they do well. This one is very appropriate for the day.
“Hands That Built America”–U2: I know these guys are not even American citizens but—hey—this one breaks up the country cuts a bit, right? (I know Bono makes some stupid remarks but you can always just download this for FREE somewhere if you are finally tired of his idiocy and boycotting his albums.)
“Have You Forgotten?”–Darryl Worley: Here is yet another appropriate tune. Darryl Worley is probably not a household name in your home, right? Variety is a good thing!
“Hello God”–Dolly Parton: This was another ‘top ten” suggestion from online. What the heck . . .Dolly Parton adds yet another female vocalist here, right?
“Bennie Got Blowed Up”—NoFX: Yeah. Here is a new genre for the mix. It might also make a nice foil to one of the quieter, sad songs on this list.
“Imagine”—John Lennon: Here was a man who believed in having no more wars and no more soldiers dying. “Imagine . . . nothing to kill or die for . . .”. It also fits the bill as a Beatles-related track, of course.
“Arlington”–Trace Adkins: This is yet another seriously fitting tune. What else do you need to hear?
“Ashes To Ashes” – Steve Earle: Sure, this might be a bit sad but you can slot it next to another number that is more upbeat.
Have a good Memorial Day but remember the only reason folks have it off is because at one point people understood if you joined the military you could get killed and because of that they were DRAFTED into the service and some of them ended up dead.
My name is Phoenix and . . . that’s the bottom line.