Monday, May 30, 2011

Brothers in Arms

It's Memorial Day, a day to celebrate our dead. I've been listening to Best Of Dire Straits & Mark Knopfler: Private Investigations . One of those songs is "Brothers in Arms", which some have claimed is the best song ever.

"Best" is a hell of a superlative, and I'd be reluctant to describe any song in those terms (though of course "When the Levee Breaks" is the greatest rock song ever). Mark Knopfler's quiet, meditative voice, thoughtful lyrics, and enveloping guitar instrumentals do make "Brothers in Arms" one of my favorite songs. It's certainly an appropriate song for today.

These mist covered mountains
Are a home now for me
But my home is the lowlands
And always will be
Some day you'll return to
Your valleys and your farms
And you'll no longer burn
To be brothers in arms

Through these fields of destruction
Baptisms of fire
I've witnessed your suffering
As the battles raged higher
And though they hurt me so bad
In the fear and alarm
You did not desert me
My brothers in arms

There's so many different words
So many different songs
We have just one world
But we live in different ones

Now the sun's gone to hell
And the moon's riding high
Let me bid you farewell
Every man has to die
But it's written in the starlight
And every line on your palm
We're fools to make war
On our brothers in arms

Those who have served in the armed services know a special kinship. We train to do terrible things- wage war, take the fight to the enemy, endure privation and long absences from friends and family- to do a great thing. Protecting our families, country, and way of life is a great thing, and a honor. In the process, strong bonds are formed, some forged in the fires of war.

We can believe that war is noble, which, though there may be nobility in some things, is not true. We can also believe that the existence of war is sad, though it's really truer that interpersonal violence is just a fact of existence.

In any case, honor those who have gone before...and those who will join them.


Nancy said...

This song absolutely haunts me. I have never heard the Dire Straits version, but (don't laugh) one of the most emotional versions I've heard is by Ryan Kelly of Celtic Thunder. Give it a try! To me this is one of the best of the anti-war songs ever!

J.R.Shirley said...

I'll have to check it out.

War is mud and blood, and is only appropriate when the alternative is worse.

Old NFO said...

Thanks for the excellent post JR!