John Gorka tagged posts

The Best Anti-War Song Ever

The best anti-war song ever written actually began its life as a poem. But like most fine poems, it contained an abundance of musical elements and concrete, vivid imagery. So much so that folk singer John Gorka readily saw the opportunity to turn it into a haunting, masterful song, so plaintive and quietly anguished that it throws off the power of its anti-war outrage under the cloak of a mother’s muffled sobs.

“Let them in, Peter,” implores the first line, and we immediately know which “Peter” the poet Elma Dean was referring to in the dark days of 1942, when the war was going very badly in post-Pearl Harbor America. This is the Peter who does not need a last name. The sentence finishes: “…they  are very tired.”

And the next lines:

      Give them couches where the angels sleep, and light those fires
      Let them wake whole again, to brand new dawns
      Fired by the sun, not w...

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Poisoned Politics: Songs of Longing and Loss by John Stewart and John Gorka

Our politics seem so poisoned today one is tempted to retreat to a soundproof room and either scream till the voice is no more or crank up the volume on some punk rock anthem until the hearing goes. We live in an era when every garden-variety disagreement begets threats of filibuster and terminal gridlock, and we are left longing for a more innocent and collegial time.

Like…1968, maybe?

No, that probably wouldn’t work. Two assassinations, two months apart, of towering figures in the civil rights movement coupled with an unpopular war to lend an unreal air to domestic politics that year. And that was before the rioting at the Democratic Convention in Chicago later in the summer that gave Richard Nixon the boost he needed to win in November and usher in the dismal history that followed.

Yet within the profound conflict of that era stirred powerful longings and currents for the continual change that has a...

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