Music Monday: Edwin Starr and The Tragically Hip

Edwin Starr — War

The Iraq War. Huh. Good god, y’all. What is it good for? Absolutely nothing.

It’s Memorial Day in the United States and we’re all busy “honoring” veterans by watching parades and grilling hamburgers. This holiday has officially been watered down to the point where it means nothing and honors no one. It glorifies America’s overrated involvement on the international stage and conflates patriotism with military service.

I’m not entirely sure how Andrew feels about this, but the older I get the more opposed I am to any kind of deployment abroad. During the first Persian Gulf war, I was too young to see through the gloss of flag-waving. Now that I’m older, I can only see tremendous waste. Is it too late to trash the Monroe Doctrine and seek another period of popular non-intervention?

War is more than just a protest song. Starr’s guttural delivery puts an almost terrified plea behind the lyrics. It’s a plea to reason that is self-consciously falling on deaf ears.



The Tragically Hip — Nautical Disaster

Too many people think of veterans as proud old men. I’ve talked to too many, though, who are shells of men, haunted by the things they saw years ago. Nautical Disaster is about a veteran of the Battle of Dieppe, a naval battle launched by Canadians (the Hip are Canadian) against German fortifications on the French coast.

The Germans knew they were coming and slaughtered almost everyone. It was one of the bloodiest routs suffered by Allied forces in all of World War II.

The veteran, now an old man, sees the battle over and over in flashbacks — but he says only a fool would complain about surviving the battle, even though he must live with the memory of basically murdering his crewmates by leaving them behind during the retreat.

That’s what war is, I think: Making the best of murder by attrition. Happy Memorial Day, America.


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