Friday, November 11, 2011

The Dropkick Murphys: The Green Fields of France

It was the 11th hour of the eleventh day of the 11th month when the Armistice was signed between the Allies and the Central Powers – specifically Germany – ending World War I. That was 1918 and it was the “war to end all wars.” Unfortunately, that was not the case. World War I resulted in World War II and other conflicts – such as issues in the Middle East can be attributed to the carving of the former Ottoman Empire into the countries of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan (then Trans Jordan), Palestine (now Israel), and Turkey.

In addition, the war created Yugoslavia which was fraught with problems and eventually disbanded amidst wars and violence. Germany’s surrender of its colonial holdings gave Japan a foothold in the Mariana Islands when it received Saipan as a spoil of war – leading to a base of operations closer to Pearl Harbor.

In fact most of the problems in the world post 1918 can be indirectly traced to the hand of one man, Gavrilo Princip, a Bosnian Serb, who fired the shot which killed Austro-Hungarian Arch Duke Franz Ferdinand – an action that caused the beginning of World War I or as it was known then, the Great War. In 1999, Time magazine called Princip “the trigger of the 20th century.”

In a blog about music, it is difficult to find a song that deals with the topic of World War I. It is even more difficult to find one to fit our Friday Flipside feature as one. Since I couldn’t I am going to utilize a song by Boston’s Celtic-Punk band – the Dropkick Murphys. In 2005, the band recorded their rendition of Eric Bogle’s “The Green Fields of France” for the LP “The Warrior’s Code.” Bogle was inspired to write the song when traveling across France and seeing the cemeteries dotted with crosses in memory of the war dead. One caught Bogle’s attention, the stone of Irishman Willie McBride of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. McBride died in 1916 at age 19.

The song has been recorded under three different titles by a wide variety of artists. Besides being known as “The Green Fields of France,” it is also called “Willie McBride” and “No Man’s Land.” Although this particular song has anti-war sentiments, many times in duty to country and honor men and women have gone to war risking their lives for a conflict in which they did not particularly support; however, duty called and they responded. In honor of all the veterans – thanks for your service.

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