Thursday, February 22, 2007

4th Day of July

Tom Rapp was the leader of a mid-60's-early 70's acid folk band called Pearls Before Swine, a cult fave (I was a big fan) that produced a total of 7 albums of Rapp's wonderfully literate songs, 2 on ESP records, and 5 on Warners/Reprise (during its house hippy days, long gone).

Rapp then went on to make 2 solo albums for Blue Thumb Records before seemingly disappearing into oblivion. In actuality he became a civil rights lawyer in Pennsylvania and now lives in Clearwater, FL. He recently came out with a new solo album called "A Journal of the Plague Years."


On the only one of hi
s albums that has never been put on CD called "Stardancer," Rapp wrote a song called "Fourth Day of July" that seems as relevant today as it did back in those halcyon Nixon years. It reads like poetry, as do many of his songs, but the strength of this one is its lack of metaphor:

And it came to pass on the first day of July
The last man home from Vietnam was going to arrive
The ship came in so silently, its bow a ghostly white
And when they looked upon the decks, there was not a man inside

Then the sea began to roll and from the ship a moaning
A line of broken children, all from the ship a-coming
The light of death was in their eyes
The broken children of Vietnam
On the first day of July

Like a war beyond control, to Washington at dawn
A line of ghostly children upon the White House lawn
Grown men did turn away, not to see it anymore
To see the burning child running to the White House door
No one found a place to hide
The burning children of Vietnam
On the second of July

All across America a line ten miles long
The dead children all coming home
From the land of Vietnam
To men who got too far away
From what was done in their name
Someday must all have to pay
Who never saw a child die
The dead children all coming home
Four days in July

On every door and window across this sad gray land
A mark that would never go away of a thousand thousand hands
A voice like voices in a dream
A voice like somebody else's scream
Or NOT somebody's else's scream
A voice within a fire
The burning children of Vietnam
On the third day of July

Then they came upon the sea, it did open up before them
A line of children all with wounds, upon the ocean walking
Then the sky began to rain
And beat the land with tears of rage
And every year upon that day if a hundred years go by
It rains upon America
On the fourth day of July

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