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The Ballad of Ira Hayes

(Peter LaFarge)

From the album: Dylan (1973)

 3/5 (29 votes)
"New Morning" outtake, June 1970

1 comment

Bill Cohen Call him drunken Ira Hayes, he won't answer any more, not that whiskey drinkin Indian, or the Marine who went to war. This sad ballad was written by Pete La Farge, an American Indian, concerning Ira Hayes. Ira was a dirt poor Pima Indian who was one of the men who raised the flag on Iwo Jima during the second world war. The agony of Iwo Jima was that all the men who were responsible for that heroic act wherin many Infantry soldiers, Marines & Navy medics were killed returned home to a rousing welcome, only to be used as poster boys who were to give speeches in order to raise money for politicians. They were promised the stars and the moon, only to be forgotten -all promises broken, back to some mediocre life. Ira went back to his black dirt Reservarion and starded drinking hard, his mind full of the death and distruction he witnessed. He was treated shabbily, and drank himself to death He died in three inches of foul water. Bob Dylan, Pete La Farge, Johhy Cash all sang about the tragedy of so many American servicemen who are honored for a day, and then forgotten and discarded like an old shoe. In our curent debacle, our boys and girsl who died are gone and will not come back to tell you of their terror and dismay. The ones who are wounded, and driven to insanity by what they saw, and witnessed will become the new leigon of the mad and homeless that will be laying on the streets of America, because the Veterans Admistration does not have the money, staff or motivation to nurse these young people back to health. To get the horrible images out of their head, they will drink and use drugs. Anything to ease the pain and bad dreams. Those poor brave 19 & 20 year olds will be seen as dirty and unpatriotic. They should get a job and get over it. What's wrong with them. God was on our side.Ira Hayes is the symbol of the kids who went to war to fight a battle that wasn't ours. They will have a hard time coming back to wives who coluld not understand what they saw, children who don't remember them and jobs that they used to have, but now cannot perform because a hand, or an eye, or a leg has been blown off. The dead Ira Hayes is just one graphic example of what we expect of our young men and woman. As Dylan says they are "the lonesome hobos, without family or friends." Where oither kids lives begin, that's exactly where their's end" In Dylan's masterpiece song " Masters of War" he ends with "If God is on our side, He'll Stop The Next War" Feb 08, 2007
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Related songs & albums

All songs on Dylan
Track Song
1 Lily of the West (Traditional)
2 Can't Help Falling in Love (George Weiss, Hugo Peretti, Luigi Creatore)
3 Sarah Jane (Traditional)
4 The Ballad of Ira Hayes (Peter LaFarge)
5 Mr. Bojangles (Jerry Jeff Walker)
6 Mary Ann (Traditional)
7 Big Yellow Taxi (Joni Mitchell)
8 A Fool Such As I (Bill Trader)
9 Spanish Is the Loving Tongue (Charles Badger Clark)
The Ballad of Ira Hayes appears on these albums
Year Album
1973 Dylan