Thursday, October 31, 2013
On Monday this week we marched to the gym for our morning workout. We formed up at 4:50 a.m. and returned at 6 a.m., so we marched both ways in the dark.
On the way to the gym, SFC Wilkerson sang the marching songs. On the way back it was SFC Bennett. They are as different as two men with the same training and the same job can be. Wilkerson yells, Bennett can sing. Marching a mile with Wilkerson is dull. With Bennett calling cadence I feel like I could march to Baltimore from Fort Meade.
But it struck me this morning much more than in the last three months just how completely neutered our marching songs are. When I joined the Air Force in 1972 and when I re-enlisted as a tank crewman in the Army in 1975, I marched to songs that sounded like young warriors were singing.
In the 1972 we marched to songs about killing Viet Cong, and crushing North Viet Nam. One particularly nasty song had the refrain "Napalm sticks to kids." And the sexist songs were so over the top as to be ludicrous even to the 19-year-olds singing them. One of our drill sergeants could sing more than 20 verses of a song that began:
"I wish all the ladies, was bats in a steeple,
and I was the big bat, there'd be more bats than people,
Hey Hey Babareebo. . ."
But no road march was complete without Jody. One of the generic names for marching songs is Jody Calls.
Jody Calls tell the story of a guy named Jody back home who is sleeping with your wife/lover, driving your car, living in your house, emptying your bank account, and hunting with your dog. We always sang songs about this lecherous lothario with the refrain "Jody's got your girl and gone. . ."
And we slammed our heels to the ground when we swore.
But here at Fort Meade, the songs are clean, they are not sexist, they are only occasionally violent. These were the songs we sang on the last day of basic when parents came to visit.
If you have never heard the real songs, watch the beginning of the movie "Jarhead." My daughter Lisa watched Jarhead with her friends when she was in high school. She came home and said, "Dad, you never told us the real words." She also asked about the bulletin board in the tent called the Jody Board.
I told her who Jody was and that the Jody Board was where you put up pictures of the woman that just dumped you.
Lisa explain the Jody Board to her friends. They all went back and saw the movie again.
I miss the songs with sex, death, and enemies. Even with Bennett singing, compared to the old days, I feel like I am marching with a scout troop.
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