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C Company feat. Terry Nelson - Battle Hymn of Lt. Calley

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Published on Feb 22, 2012

William Calley songs: https://rateyourmusic.com/list/JBrumm...
The track "Battle Hymn of Lt. Calley" (Plantation Records # PL-73), written by Julian Wilson and James M. Smith, defended the actions of Lt. William Calley. Set to the tune of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic", it is certainly the most well known song on this subject, receiving large coverage in Billboard magazine. The single, awarded a gold record for selling over 1 million records, featured on the 1971 flag-waving album "Wake Up America" (Plantation Records # PLP-15). In October 1972 the two writers filed suit against Singleton Music, seeking $110,000 in unpaid royalties.

As noted above, on 17 April 1971, a Billboard headline claimed that the "Calley Disk Stirs Market; Supply Runs Behind Demand" and that this single had "become the nation's hottest single property". The article went on to say that "it takes a stroke of luck for dealers to get copies. Gwen Kesler, singles sales manager at Southland Distributors in Atlanta, has 100,000 copies of the single on order and said 'if I can get them, they're sold'. As of late last week 10,000 were delivered and she was expecting another 10,000...the Calley disk is selling 'like a goldmine...at least in orders".

However, the article also noted a degree of controversy surrounding this song, with the cancellation of a cover by the famous country singer Tex Ritter: "the controversy raging over the conviction of Lt. William Calley, which sparked three fast-selling releases within the past two weeks, has also resulted in the cancellation of the distribution of still another. The cancelled disk is Tex Ritter's version of "The Battle Hymn of Lt. Calley" on the Capitol Records label. Capitol Records president Stan Gortikov told Billboard that 'we stopped the release of the 'Calley' record because his case is still under judicial consideration. Furthermore , if we want to glorify a war hero, let's find someone other than Lt. Calley". On 19 June 1971, Billboard reported university jukebox programers were censoring controversial songs on campus: "Increasingly, jukebox programmer...must consider the sensitive nature of lyrics....the Battle Hymn of Lt. Calley is an example".

The narrator started in the third person, in the old familiar "once upon a time" - telling the listener that a boy grew up wanting to "serve his country". Then switching to the first person, the narrator said that "my name is William Calley". He sought to justify the massacre in the following ways: (1) the threat of death; (2) the uncertainty of battle; (3) following orders. On the first point, the narrator described the difficulties and horrors of war: "I've seen my buddies ambushed...youthful bodies riddled by...V.C. bullets". On the second point, he argued that "all the rules are broken" during war, and that in the Vietnam jungles "it's hard to judge the enemy". Finally, the narrator emphasised the importance of doing one's duty, and to be able to stand before god, and say that "I followed all my orders and I did the best I could". The narrator also criticised the anti-war movement, claiming that those "marching in the street...were helping our defeat".

"Once upon a time there was a little boy who wanted to grow up
And be a soldier and serve his country in whatever way he could...
My name is William Calley, I'm a soldier of this land
I've tried to do my duty and to gain the upper hand...
I'm just another soldier from the shores of U.S.A.
Forgotten on a battle field ten thousand miles away
While life goes on as usual from New York to Santa Fe...
I've seen my buddies ambushed on the left and on the right
And their youthful bodies riddled by the bullets of the night
Where all the rules are broken and the only law is might...
While we're fighting in the jungles they were marching in the street
While we're dying in the rice fields they were helping our defeat
While we're facing V.C. bullets they were sounding a retreat...
When I reach my final campground in that land beyond the sun
And the great commander asks me, did you fight or did you run
I'll stand both straight and tall, stripped of medals, rank and gun
And this is what I'll say, sir
I followed all my orders and I did the best I could
It's hard to judge the enemy and hard to tell the good...
We took the jungle village exactly like they said
We responded to their rifle fire with everything we had
And when the smoke had cleared away a hundred souls lay dead...
When all the wars are over and the battle's finally won
Count me only as a soldier who never left his gun
With the right to serve my country as the only prize I've won"

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