Thursday, January 11, 2007
Lyndon Johnson Told the NationFor someone my age, who lived through the Viet Nam War, these days, these events, are a terrible case of deja vu all over again. Back in those days singers and songwriters were protesting publicly through their music, reaching an audience of young people whose futures were extremely on the line. Reaching into that past, I bring you a song whose time has come again, a time when an escalation was called by its real name, a time when we were saving a different nation from itself:
Lyndon Johnson Told the Nation
Words and Music by Tom Paxton
I got a letter from L. B. J.
It said this is your lucky day.
It's time to put your khaki trousers on.
Though it may seem very queer
We've got no jobs to give you here
So we are sending you to Viet Nam
[Chorus:]Lyndon Johnson told the nation,
"Have no fear of escalation.
I am trying everyone to please.
Though it isn't really war,
We're sending fifty thousand more,
To help save Viet nam from Viet Namese."
I jumped off the old troop ship,
And sank in mud up to my hips.
I cussed until the captain called me down.
Never mind how hard it's raining,
Think of all the ground we're gaining,
Just don't take one step outside of town.
Every night the local gentry,
Sneak out past the sleeping sentry.
They go to join the old VC.
In their nightly little dramas,
They put on their black pajamas,
And come lobbing mortar shells at me.
We go round in helicopters,
Like a bunch of big grasshoppers,
Searching for the Viet Cong in vain.
They left a note that they had gone.
They had to get down to Saigon,
Their government positions to maintain.
Well here I sit in this rice paddy,
Wondering about Big Daddy,
And I know that Lyndon loves me so.
Yet how sadly I remember,
Way back yonder in November,
When he said I'd never have to go.
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No subject for immortal verse
That we who lived by honest dreams
Defend the bad against the worse."
-- Cecil Day-Lewis from Where Are The War Poets?
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