Henry's Songbook

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No Man's Land

  • (Eric Bogle)

    Did they beat the drums slowly
    Did they sound the fife lowly
    Did the rifles fire o'er you
    As they lowered you down
    Did the bugles sing the Last Post and Chorus
    Did the pipes play The Floo'ers of the Forest

    Well how d'you do Private William MacBride
    Do you mind if I sit here down by your graveside
    I'll rest for a while in the warm summer sun
    I've been walking all day and I'm nearly done
    I can see by your gravestone you were only nineteen
    When you joined the glorious fallen in nineteen-sixteen
    Well I hope you died quick and I hope you died clean
    Or Willie MacBride was it slow and obscene

    Did you leave a wife or a sweetheart behind
    In some loyal heart is your memory enshrined
    And though you died back in nineteen-sixteen
    To that loyal heart are you always nineteen
    Or are you a stranger without even a name
    Forever enshrined behind some glass pane
    In an old photograph torn and tattered and stained
    And fading to yellow in a brown leather frame

    The sun's shining now on these green fields of France
    The warm wind blows gently and the red poppies dance
    The trenches have vanished long under the plough
    No gas and no barbed wire, no guns firing now
    But here in this graveyard it's still no man's land
    The countless white crosses in mute witness stand
    To man's blind indifference to his fellow man
    And a whole generation that were butchered and damned

    And I can't help but wonder now Willie MacBride
    Do all those who lie here know why they died
    Did you really believe them when they told you the cause
    Did you really believe that this war would end wars
    Well the suffering the sorrow the glory the shame
    The killing the dying it was all done in vain
    For Willie MacBride it all happened again
    And again and again and again and again

Susannes Folksong-Notizen

  • [1980:] Written in March 1976. - A song about the waste and futility of war. Pure and simple. I wrote it after a short sobering visit to one of the multitude of military cemeteries in northern France. I attempted to convey in the song the sad, angry, futile atmosphere of that graveyard. (Notes Eric Bogle, 'Now I'm Easy')

  • [1988:] The horrors of trench warfare also combined to produce a debilitating illness that had not previously been described. Called shell shock, it was only gradually accepted as a psychological condition. Sufferers became hysterical, disorientated, were paralyzed, or ceased to obey orders and had to be hospitalized away from the front. (J. M. Winter, The Experience of World War I, 152)

  • [1989:] I can't experience everything in life - I didn't fight in the First World War for Chrissakes, but I listened to blokes that had. [...] War is still the most futile pursuit humankind engages in and until they stop doing it I'll keep writing songs about it. Because if you stop bringing it to people's attention then you accept it; it becomes normal. I'm always like the ghost at the feast writing old-fashioned protest songs saying a state of war is not a normal condition. [...] The last time I toured the UK the Falkland Islands colonial load of shit was going on and No Man's Land took on an entirely new meaning again and those songs will last for years, not because they're intrinsically wonderful songs, it's because every so often the human race is going to start killing each other and those songs are going to become relevant again.

    [The First World War] was a definitive point in history; far more so than other wars, I think. So much ended with the First World War and so much began after it; there was nothing romantic about it, but it was the last of the idealistic wars.

    So many of the people who fought in it thought they were fighting to end it - to start a total new age of human beings. You read the histories, you read the letters from the soldiers - there was a genuine belief that once this war was finished they'd create paradise on earth. It didn't happen [...]. There's no excuse for wars but if people in the First World War thought they were fighting to end all wars, that's a reasonable reason. (Eric Bogle, interview with Andy Shearer, Broadbeat, May)

  • [1991:] I wish the Fureys had asked me before they changed the song! (Eric Bogle, intro Tønder Festival)

  • [1992:] I've heard a captain in the SAS sing Eric Bogle's No Man's Land, one of the best anti-war songs. I did No Man's Land at every one of the twelve concerts I did in the Falklands. [...] I got booked to go to the Falklands in November 1982, the first concert party to go [there] after the war. (Imlach, Reminiscences 158)

  • [1993:] [Eric] actually started to write this song when he was in this country. He'd done the Osnabruck Festival and had some time off. He was fascinated by the First World War so he went and looked at military cemeteries. He looked at thousands of crosses and couldn't find one man who was more than twenty-three years old - Eric was nearly thirty. He came back to Münster, and in the military cemetery there he saw a name he remembered. So he started to write this song in Nottuln. (Hamish Imlach, intro Kiel)

  • [1995:] ['The Green Fields of France':] 'That was a great song. I got it off Gibb Todd (tour manager, support act and friend of Eric Bogle, the song's writer) and I changed the words round a bit. [Eric Bogle] said that as far as he was concerned it will always be our song.' (Finbar Furey in an interview with Dave Haslam, Rock 'n' Reel 20, p 17) Soldiers Songs / History

  • deutsch German version see Hannes Wader, Es ist an der Zeit

Quelle: Australia / France

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aktualisiert am 29.04.2002