HISTORY IN MUSIC’- “WAIST DEEP IN THE BIG MUDDY’-

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History In Music- “Waist Deep In The Big Muddy: -Pete Seeger. The song was written by Seeger in 1967 but I thought that today- May 20th- would be a good day to feature the song- it is the 50th anniversary today of the end of the battle of Hamburger Hill in Vietnam. This was a ten day battle for “Hill 937” in which the number of American combat deaths were over 50 with 410 wounded in the fight. The North Vietnamese resisted for ten days and when they finally did yield the hill- American forces would abandon the hill due to its having no tactical significance. Stupidity. Insanity.

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It was back in nineteen forty-two,
I was a member of a good platoon.
We were on maneuvers in-a Louisiana,
One night by the light of the moon.
The captain told us to ford a river,
That’s how it all begun.
We were — knee deep in the Big Muddy,
But the big fool said to push on.
The Sergeant said, “Sir, are you sure,
This is the best way back to the base?”
“Sergeant, go on! I forded this river
‘Bout a mile above this place.
It’ll be a little soggy but just keep slogging.
We’ll soon be on dry ground.”
We were, waist deep in the Big Muddy
And the big fool said to push on.
The Sergeant said, “Sir, with all this equipment
No man will be able to swim.”
“Sergeant, don’t be a Nervous Nellie, ”
The Captain said to him.
“All we need is a little determination;
Men, follow me, I’ll lead on.”
We were, neck deep in the Big Muddy
And the big fool said to push on.
All at once, the moon clouded over,
We heard a gurgling cry.
A few seconds later, the captain’s helmet
Was all that floated by.
The Sergeant said, “Turn around men!
I’m in charge from now on.”
And we just made it out of the Big Muddy
With the captain dead and gone.
We stripped and dived and found his body
Stuck in the old quicksand.
I guess he didn’t know that the water was deeper
Than the place he’d once before been.
Another stream had joined the Big Muddy
‘Bout a half mile from where we’d gone.
We were lucky to escape from the Big Muddy
When the big fool said to push on.
Well, I’m not going to point any moral,
I’ll leave that for yourself
Maybe you’re still walking, you’re still talking
You’d like to keep your health.
But every time I read the papers
That old feeling comes on;
We’re, waist deep in the Big Muddy
And the big fool says to push on.
Waist deep in the Big Muddy
And the big fool says to push on.
Waist deep in the Big Muddy
And the big fool says to push on.
Waist deep! Neck deep! Soon even a
Tall man’ll be over his head, we’re
Waist deep in the Big Muddy!
And the big fool says to push on!

 

“If we allow the Communists to win in Vietnam, it will become easier and more appetizing for them to take over other countries in other parts of the world. We will have to fight again someplace else—at what cost no one knows. That is why it is vitally important to every American family that we stop the Communists in South Vietnam.” – President Lyndon B. Johnson, 1966

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The song was written by Pete Seeger and it was set in Louisiana during World War II but it was an allegory for the U.S. involvement in Vietnam. In September 1967 Seeger appeared on the controversial Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour but the CBS censors cut it before the show was broadcast. To the credit of the Smothers Brothers  they protested the censorship and Seeger returned five months later and sang the song. This song may be the greatest anti-war song and certainly on the list for the greatest protest song ever written. ” The Captain and The Big Fool “- was ultimately the man who was living at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C- LBJ.

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8 responses to “HISTORY IN MUSIC’- “WAIST DEEP IN THE BIG MUDDY’-

  1. Pingback: HISTORY IN MUSIC’- “WAIST DEEP IN THE BIG MUDDY’- — slicethelife – Tao Talk·

  2. Some great trivia in there, Hans. Pete’s song, “Little Boxes” was treated as tune for kids in England via the BBC. Shame because it is full of satirism and protest.

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