Never For Ever
1980 | Folk
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"Give the kid the pick of pips and give him all your stripes and ribbons — Now he's sitting in his hole he might as well have buttons and bows."
- HIt #16 on the UK Singles chart.
- "Army Dreamers" was one of 68 songs considered inappropriate for airplay by the BBC during the first Gulf War.
- The song looks at the human toll of war through the eyes of a mother forced to bury her young adult son.
THE HOT TAKES
I hope that no one reading ever has to experience the heartbreak of losing a child. I have not, but merely having a child gives you a glimpse at what the kind of loss could be like. This song searches, like the mind of the mother, for other things her son could have done that would have shielded him from this death. Alas, it is too late as the song is being sung. This also brought to mind a movie scene that is hard for me to watch every time. In The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, when King Theoden discovers his son is dead, he says: "No parent should have to bury their child." The bitterness of war should be always at the back of our minds, to remind us why we fight for peace.
I can only imagine what it would be like to receive the lifeless body of your child shipped back to you, draped in the flag of a country that he felt he needed to fight for. As a mother, this song really strikes a chord with me. I think of all the dreams I have for my own children, all of the joys of their lives that I hope to share with them, all shattered. I’m sure that just as in the song, I would think of all the things the young man who didn’t make it out of his twenties didn’t get to experience. He’ll never enjoy music again, or get the opportunity to be a husband and father. I can’t help but think of the immense weight I would feel knowing, as his mother, the person who carried him in her own body, and fed him at my breast, I had encouraged his “service.” If I had stood beside him as he followed me in saying the pledge, or took him to the parade with the soldiers and called them heroes. If I told him I was so proud of him the day he enlisted, and kissed his cheek as he left for “over there.” How I would pray for his safe return! The pit in my stomach as the chaplin came to my door. The way my heart would break into a billion little pieces as his casket is carried by other young men, his brothers in the deadly game. My brokeness as they hand me the folded cloth. The cheap trinket that seemed so precious before I traded the life of my son for it. I can imagine it all too well, and I don’t know that I could bear it. As libertarians, we should always abhor the initiation of force, and not give way to the fear tactics and patriotism The State uses to coerce us to do their bidding. I will not sacrifice my children on the altar of The State, and I encourage you, for their sakes, you commit yourself to the same.
A good place to start any criticism of music is by establishing bias. My bias is firmly planted against Kate Bush. She’s better tha Tori Amos in only that she did her weird cutesy voice thing first. I’m glad I don’t see much more of this out there. That said, what’s the famous quote? “Even an annoying clock is right twice a day?” I suppose this is one of those moments. The thing I appreciate most about this song is that it’s focus isn’t really on the cost of war. If you pay attention she’s focusing on something far more grave. The song is about buy in. It’s about how our rulers have been running a multi-generational con game, persuading people with all sorts of psychological bait. When she talks about the mother she talks about her little soldier. The poor woman sees her child like she always has. A kid playing dress up at his noble profession. I’m sure you and I are aware there’s nothing noble about it, but so many buy into the “protecting freedom charade.” On the soldiers side we have young man who was led by his “ego.” That same narrative they’ve written about the nobility of soldiers is what prompts young men to go out and do “man shit.” Men protect the people they love. No harm in dying for that cause. That’s why so much is invested in us believing we are threatened at all sides by people want us dead like those goat herders and poppy farmers in Afghanistan. The best part is itself reinforcing because now they do want us dead for murdering their families. But I digress. The psychological games they play to get buy in is monstrous and I enjoy this song making note of it.