Tell Your Children

Thinking of Richie Havens (thanks to poetbear for dutifully transcribing “Younger Men Grow Older”), I reached into the deep chasm of the archives and pulled out the only Richie Havens-inspired song I ever wrote. It dates from about 12 years ago … imagine all kinds of “Freedom” like strumming … not my usual subject matter, but I was extremely irritated with some right-wing Christofascist ideology at the time, and it sort of just came out … it was probably a combination of Freedom Fighting in Nicaragua, Freedom Fighting in the Falkland Islands, and Freedom Fighting in Belfast.

God, it seems your houses are the very first to fall
Explosive words in your foundations leave most wicked scrawls
And your small children, those you haven’t time enough to save
Are gone, and your own armies lay your sod upon their graves

Please tell your children this is not how it should be
We cannnot kill each other off, and still claim to be free
Each day another heathen soul climbs nearer unto thee
But for myself, here in our hearts is near enough for me

Women and our children are the victims of this war
But that is nothing new, for it has happened here before
Perhaps the grail was something Arthur never should have saved
Before the world believed in You, and by Your will enslaved

Please tell your children this is not how it should be
We cannot hate with hatred and believe in love and peace
Each day another murdered soul cries nearer unto thee
But for myself, inside my heart is near enough for me

We sit upon the left of you, or perhaps on the right
Far from the door so we can ignore wailing in the night
From those gnashing with their gums because their teeth have fallen out
Your word has so deafened us that we can’t hear the shouts
Of your unbroken followers who toil within our jails
And keep our cross-constructors stocked with wood and sharpened nails

Please tell your children this is not what you had planned
We cannot draw the line between two kinds of fellow man
Each day another holy fool runs nearer unto thee
But for myself, here in my heart is near enough for me

1982

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