Your patriotic penman’s personal take on Memorial Day can be perused in a previous piece on other holiday hits for this particular celebration. (Mind you, many men in the Phoenix family have served in the military.) So rather than rehash that here, perhaps it would suffice to once more focus on the essence of the holiday.
Whether you (to put it nicely) romantically look upon all men and women in the military as “heroes” (as in G.I. Joe) or consider them as employees of the American taxpayers who perhaps were unsure about their career options or maybe didn’t know what else to do, the day itself does have 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, here is yet another playlist. In no particular order, here are another apropos group of tunes.
(View the list to see the specific songs.)
“Ballad of Ira Hayes”
“Ballad of Ira Hayes” – Johnny Cash: Cash’s 1964 cover of this composition by folk singer Peter La Forge tells the tuneful tale of a marine named Hayes who gained fame by raising the flag on Mount Suribachi during the Battle of Iwo Jima of World War II. Sadly, Hayes actually died a much less heroic death from alcohol poisoning outside a bar in Arizona.
“Last Letter Home”
“Last Letter Home” – Dropkick Murphys: This is from 2005. It’s off their best-selling fifth studio album named The Warrior’s Code. It’s very loud and “Irish punk” but that just adds a bit of spice and variety to the musical mix. (Hey, that is always a good thing, isn’t it?)
“Belleau Wood” – Garth Brooks: This is a country cut by Brooks. The song was first released in 1997 on his Sevens album. Interestingly enough, the battle Brooks describes in the lyrics of the song are not accurate. The tune actually tells a dramatized tale adapted from the legendary Christmas truce phenomenon of 1914.
“Comin’ In On A Wing & A Prayer”
“Comin’ In On A Wing & A Prayer” – The Four Vagabonds: This is a really “old school” song going way back to 1943. It is but one of their musical contributions to the war effort. They supposedly had a repertoire of over 1500 songs although strangely they recorded comparatively few.
“American Music” – The Blasters: This is yet another “old school” song. It’s in the genre of 1950’s style rock. It adds a bit more musical variety to the mix and is the title track off of their debut disc from 1980. This is an online fan favorite and just might have you dancing to boot.
“Day For Decision”
“Day For Decision”- Johnny Sea: This is the titular tune off of his 1966 platter. It was a “spoken word” piece and a hit for the country artist. It included backing vocals from a chorus singing “America”. It was even nominated for a Grammy award although it lost to a recording by Edward R. Murrow.
“Riding With Private Malone”
“Riding With Private Malone” – David Ball: This one was actually co-composed by Thom Shepherd and Wood Newton. Ball put it out on his 2001 release Amigo. The single soared to number 2 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks charts and made it up to number 36 on the Billboard Hot 100.
“Citizen/Soldier” – 3 Doors Down: This is a pop song off their eponymous-titled release 3 Doors Down. The single hit stores in 2007 and was part of a special recruitment campaign by the United States National Guard. The song lyrics reflect the band’s opinion on what the National Guard does.
“I Will Be Home Again”
“I Will Be Home Again” – Golden Gate Quartet: This song is also from another era and harkens back to 1945 when it was first recorded. It was written by Bennie Benjamin, Raymond Leveen and Lou Singer in 1944. It was not released, on a major label, however, until 1947. Elvis Presley also covered the song in 1960.
“Imagine”—John Lennon: If you used one version of this in your last music mix for the day you can use another version this time. (There are different versions if you hunt for them.) Lennon was a man who believed no one should die in a war. “Imagine . . . nothing to kill or die for . . .” Additionally, it works well as the prerequisite Beatles-related track, of course. (Every playlist needs a Beatles tune.)
Now have a good Memorial Day but remember the only reason people have it off is because at one point men understood if you joined the military you could get killed. At one point, our government drafted men into the service and some of them ended up dead. It’s not supposed to be just another excuse to drink and get drunk. It’s not Cinco de Mayo. It’s Memorial Day and it’s time to remember the dead.
My name is Phoenix and . . . that’s the bottom line.