Friday on My Mind: Veteran’s Day

courtesy of U.S. Navy (source)

It’s time again for Friday on My Mind, the weekly blog post where we look at videos centered around one common theme. This is a collaborative effort between KEXP and King 5 News. This Sunday November 11th will be Veteran’s Day so today we are looking at songs that pay respect to Veterans and that celebrate the end of war.

Veteran’s Day is also known as Remembrance or Armistice Day. It’s a time when we commemorate members of the armed forces both past and present who have sacrificed and dedicated their efforts to serving our country. The 11th Day of the 11th month during the 11th hour marked the end of World War I in 1918 with the Germans signing the Armistice. This is why the holiday is observed on this date every year. And now here are a few songs to help remember those who have served for us.

Johnny Cash with Willie Nelson - Drive On

Johnny Cash’s “Drive On” is taken from his first American Recordings album which was released in 1994. It’s a remembrance song about Vietnam from the perspective of a soldier who is back from the war. The song is about a soldier who has returned from the Vietnam War. He reflects back on his friend who he lost during the Vietnam war: “Drive on... It don’t mean a thing.” Here’s Johnny Cash performing the song during VH1 Storytellers w/ Willie Nelson in 1997:

Bill Withers - I Can’t Write Left Handed

“I Can’t Write Left Handed” was recorded during a live concert given by Bill Withers at Carnegie Hall in 1971 and released as an album in 1973. The song was written from the perspective of a soldier who has been shot and has lost his arm as a result.

Here’s a cover of the Bill Withers song as performed by John Legend and the Roots:


Honorable Mentions:

New Order - Love Vigilantes(LIVE in 1985)

“Love Vigilantes” was the Americana- tinged opening track off of New Order’s 1985 sophomore release, Low-Life. In recent years the song was covered by Iron & Wine which has introduced it to a new audience.

Metallica - One

From ...And Justice for All, which was released in 1988, “One” is inspired by the 1938 Dalton Trumbo book, Johnny Got His Gun. The anti-war novel is about a young World War I soldier who loses his entire face and all limbs in a mortar blast, but survives and has a mind that still functions normally. Trumbo adapted the book into a film screenplay and served as director of the 1971 film. Scenes from the movie were used in the music video for the Metallica song and interspersed with footage of the band performing the song in a wherehouse.

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