"I Fought in a War" as written by and Martin/murdoch/colburn/cooke/geddes/jackson/campbe....
I fought in a war and I left my friends behind me
To go looking for the enemy, and it wasn't very long
Before I would stand with another boy in front of me
And a corpse that just fell into me, with the bullets flying round

And I reminded myself of the words you said when we were getting on
And I bet you're making shells back home for a steady boy to wear
Round his neck, well it won't hurt to think of you as if you're waiting for
This letter to arrive because I'll be here quite a while

I fought in a war and I left my friends behind me
To go looking for the enemy, and it wasn't very long
Before I found out that the sickness there ahead of me
Went beyond the bedsit infamy of the decade gone before

And I reminded myself of the words you said when we were getting on
And I bet you're making shells back home for a steady man to wear
Round his neck, well it won't hurt to think of you as if you're waiting for
This letter to arrive because I'll be here quite a while

I fought in a war, and I didn't know where it would end
It stretched before me infinitely, I couldn't really think
Of the day beyond now, keep your head down pal
There's trouble plenty in this hour, this day
I can see hope I can see light

And I reminded myself of the looks you gave when we were getting on
And I bet you're making shells back home for a steady man to wear
Round his neck, well it won't hurt to think of you as if you're waiting for
This letter to arrive because I'll be here quite a while


Lyrics submitted by girlboyrevolt

"I Fought in a War" as written by Isobel Campbell Christopher Geddes

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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I Fought in a War song meanings
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14 Comments

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  • +2
    My InterpretationI think the war in this is largely metaphorical. The war, to me, is the past relationship with the girl in the song. For example, most people have found at some point that they drift from their friends a little, or in some cases completely while in a relationship ('and I left my friends behind me'), and the 'sickness ahead of me' and other verses refer to the troubled and ultimately failing relationship.

    The chorus jumps to the present, where the relationship has fallen apart.
    He imagines that his former lover still has feelings for him, although he knows really that she has found someone new. However, he is happy for now with his delusion - until he finds someone new himself, he can dream that she still wants him, which keeps him a little bit happy.

    The place that he will 'be here quite a while' could refer to the hung up feelings that are stopping him moving on. So while he is still hung up and not moving on, he can imagine she still feels for him. This is harmless to her, but creates a vicious cycle for him - as long as he thinks of her as waiting for him, he won't get over her. Therefore he will be 'here quite a while'.
    bumcivilianon April 07, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General Comment"A. i wrote [I Fought in a War] around the summer or 1999. it's mostly from personal experience, with a little tip of the hat to the story "To Esme With Love And Squalor" by Salinger. I don't mind the way you hear it. I spent my whole life taking other people's words to mean exactly what I want them to mean, and I don't mean to be flippant! it's the inherent power in any piece of artistic expression that it may kick off in someone else, feelings completely unimagined by the creator. "
    Southboundon July 25, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentIt's terrific how the 'steady boy' becomes a 'steady man', subtly showing that time is passing. I love small touches like that in B&S songs.
    anopeon December 04, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General Commenti concur with bumcivillian or whatever... the war is not the real world war, although it is written like it is... in my opinion this song is about great depression, you lose everything and see only the darkness/sickness or a war infront of you, your friends leave the women leave and all that is left is the war/depression and his delusions that when his war is over that he and she will be back together.. so he is unwell/ at war so what he thinks of is the good tihngs that happened between them but he also knows she is gone too S: but all that will keep him going is the delusions that she is waiting for him to come back from his "war".

    this is a really brilliant song btw
    palmerqon August 09, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General Commentok why has no one written on this song......geeeeeeeeez it so sad and beautiful, b & s is awesome...the put so much emotion into their songs. geez. geez. awesome song, so sad ^_^
    Sandman3987on January 11, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song is just sad. I love it though.
    BoyWithTheArabStrapon May 21, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song was used in the end credits for an amazing documentary called "Why We Fight". It went well with the theme.
    MrMaroukaon July 30, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentBeautiful, one of my favourite of B&S.
    gibbleron August 15, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThanks Southbound & MrMarouka; nice to see someone saying something about a song for once.
    Dazberton January 11, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIt's about World War I. A boy is sent off to fight in the trenches, to become a 'man'. Bullets are constantly whizzing about and dead are bodies falling backwards into the trenches as they charge over the top.
    To keep himself sane/occupied he thinks about a girl he once knew before the war (possibly his sweetheart) and the letters she sends him - she is doing her part for the war too (making ammunition).

    The line 'Keep your head down pal' refers to the the fact that if any part of your body appeared above the trench, you were likely to lose it and the 'sickness' is possibly shell shock.

    Some good lyrics. Good song.
    Deathsdoor99on March 15, 2007   Link

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