Updated: Sep 5
The War Rages On is a difficult song for me to talk about. A good friend of mine did a few tours in Afghana-Sizzle. I won't mention his name in order to protect him from email traffic, and social media. But he told me a story of how he woke up in a start because he heard a noise. He grabbed his pistol, and flashlight and headed downstairs to see if there was in an intruder in his house. There wasn't. So he went outside to see if there was someone there. There wasn't.
When he told me this story, he confessed he couldn't even remember if he heard a sound or just woke up with it. But he was ready to shoot anyone on his property. He slept with a pistol under his pillow...with two toddlers in the house.
My dear friend survived getting through his military tours in one piece. As a former military person who used to work around these soldiers, I know post traumatic stress disorder close up. Conflict changes you. You get the "thousand yard stare".
So, I wrote a song about it. In the song, I see things through my friend's eyes. I tell the story of being recruited, trained and sent off to combat, and then coming home. Things aren't normal. I spend more time alone in the bayou than with friends I used to have. They don't understand freedom as much as I do. They live free, but never pay for it in blood, as I have. Even my old hound dog doesn't want to be around me anymore. I'm mean, angry and have been treated unfairly.
What combat brings is isolation. The only people with whom you can relate are people who've been through it. That's why there are so many VFW's around. They drink and tell stories. There's always one empty seat for in honor of those who didn't make it home.
So, I took the responsibility of this song very seriously. I wanted to make sure I captured how my friends felt. Even if the story wasn't the same as my friend's story. It came out relatable. Many soldiers get tombstones in their eyes. Again, I used to work with them. I never had the same experiences. But, they would tell me things.
In order to try to get the music to match with the song, I combined part of the bass line from CCR's, "Have You Ever Seen The Rain", with Eagles, "Take it Easy". While the music isn't exactly the same, these two songs talk about looking forward to getting out of trouble and toward a new start.
So, blending these two things together, using a song format suitable for story telling, and insight seemed to work. The original version was much more heavy and angry in tone. So, softening up the approach kind of worked. In a way, it's one of those deep cuts.
Also, at the end of the song I referenced the end of "Take It Easy" by modulating up from a G Major to a C Major. But I didn't finish the way the Eagles did. I hit the chord and let it fade out.
How it fits into the "Bait & Switch" concept, is this: As a recruit, nobody ever told me what would happen to my psyche because of combat. There were psychologists, sure. But no one ever told me I'd be forever changed because of post traumatic stress. At the end of the day, the military wasn't for me. Too much bureaucracy. Just another meatball in the grinder. So, I got out of the military and found my own path as a civilian. I could get help and get better from there.
I hope the song brings awareness, and I hope the story delivers the message.