Sunday, November 11, 2007

Songs in My Head on Veterans Day

Today is Veterans Day, a holiday that often passes without much notice, especially for younger people. I was never in the service, but my dad was. He served in the Army during the Korean War. He was lucky and talented enough as a musician to spend his service time stateside, playing in the Second Army Band. That's him standing in the middle-back of this quartet.

I got to play a couple of songs with my dad today at my regular Sunday jazz gig. He came down to the hotel to sit in on piano for Bruce DeMoll (himself a veteran of the US Navy Band during the Korean War). Both Dad and Bruce really came into their own as musicians during their time in the service.

More than 1,000 World War II veterans die every day, according to researchers who worked on Ken Burns' incredible documentary, "The War." And with them go their stories, memories, and experiences. Our World War I veterans are nearly all gone, now. My grandmother Thompson, who died in 1997 at the age of 97, remembered, as a young girl, hearing Civil War veterans who worked on her dad's farm, talking about that great conflict. Imagine that!

Two songs came to my ears today--songs that made me think about Veterans Day, and about all those who have served. They also made me think about the horrible waste, and utter sadness and senselessness of war--any war.

The songs are:

Day After Tomorrow
by Tom Waits
The version I heard was sung by Linda Thompson
on her recent album "Versatile Heart."
You can hear her version in the auto-player here.


And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda
by Eric Bogle
I heard a version sung by Christy Moore.
You can hear a version sung by the song's author, here.
And a short sample of the Pogues' version is here.

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