A story that repeats itself in one form or another, time after time.
About lives of quiet desperation.
The one’s unnoticed in the shadows.
Toiling in obscurity.
The forgotten casualties of war, after war, after war.
This song is dedicated to all conscripts,
and especially to those of my own generation that survive,
and those who fought and will fight in the conflicts of the present and of the future...
and who are unappreciated for their unstinting service.
Under the stairs beside the entrance hall An old man sits and stares at relics of his first war Hanging on the wall. Near pictures of his kids who’ve grown up and now are goneBy a certificate from the masons, next to a picture from his old school When he was twenty-one, he looked just like his son...
His hair long gray is thinning and he’s balder by the day
An old calendar on the wall
A little girl with kittens grinning in the hay
And his watch for faithful service is hanging on a chain
And his joints are fine as long as it doesn’t rain
He feels no pain...
The weather’s become cooler now that summer’s gone
A wool hat for his ears, a scarf and rug to keep his old legs warm
He reads the Sunday papers with eyes that are weak and wan
Waiting for the widow to ’phone him And to tell him that her heat is not on
He will not come...
He hides away his memories
In a wild and scary place
You’d never know by looking at his weathered kindly face
He fought in the Pacific, shipped home in ’44
He never marches in parades
On July the Fourth
Mopping up the floors
Dusting off the stairs
What he’s done and seen
No one knows, no one cares.
He still remembers days when tramlines ran around this block
A long time ago, he came back from the war, he says it was shell-shock
And he still plays cards for matches, with the old sergeant from upstairs
Humming Yankee Doodle snatches
And sometimes you can even hear him say his prayers...
To the lady on the wall...
There are shadows in the hall...