Revenge Recommends: "Red Army Blues" by the Waterboys

This is a live version of the Waterboys epic, Red Army Blues, recorded in Germany in 1984 (although this broadcast seems to have been made in 1993). It has been beautifully preserved by German television and features the two mainstays of the early Waterboys, Mike Scott and Anthony Thistlewait on sax.

The song, which appeared on the 1984 album A Pagan Place, tells the story of a heroic young soldier sent to fight the Nazis but then sent to a Soviet concentration camp because he had come into contact with Western influences. Needless to say this is not typical rock lyric fodder, but Mike Scott is an epic historical poet among many other things.

The music ironically references the 1934 Soviet propaganda song Полюшко Поле/Polyushka Polye (Field, My Field) - music by Lev Knipper, lyrics by Viktor Gusev - which is sung from the viewpoint of a young army recruit from the counrty. 

The Lyrics:

When I left my home and my family
my mother said to me
son it's not how many
Germans you kill that counts
it's how many
people you set free
so I packed my bags
brushed my cap
walked out into the world
seventeen years old
never kissed a girl

I took the train to Voronezh
that was as far it would go
changed my sacks for a uniform
bit my lip against the snow
I prayed for Mother Russia
in the summer of 43
and as we drove the Germans back
I really believed
God was listenin' to me

We howled into Berlin
tore the smoking buildings down
raised the red flag high
burnt the Reichstag brown
I saw my first American
he looked a lot like me
had the same kind of
farmer's face
said he come from
some place
called Hazard, Tennessee

When the war was over
my discharge papers came
me and twenty hundred others
went to Stettiner for the train
Kiev – said the commissar
from there your own way home
but I never got to Kiev
we never came back home
the train went north to the taiga
we were stripped and marched in file
up the great Siberian road
miles and miles and miles
dressed in stripes and tatters
in a gulag left to die
all because comrade Stalin feared
we'd become too westernized!

Used to love my country
used to be so young
used to believe that life
was the best song
ever sung
I would have died
for my country
back in 1945
but now only one thing remains
the brute will to survive

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