Dachau blues, those poor Jews
Dachau blues, those poor Jews
Dachau blues, Dachau blues, those poor Jews
Still cryin' 'bout the burnin' back in world war two's

One mad man six million lose
Down in Dachau blues down in Dachau blues
The world can't forget that misery
And the young ones now beggin' the old ones please
T'stop bein' madmen
'Fore they have t' tell their children
'Bout the burnins back in World War Three's

War One was balls 'n powder 'n blood 'n snow
War Two rained death 'n showers 'n skeletons
Danced 'n screamin' 'n dyin' in the ovens
Cough 'n smoke 'n dyin' by the dozens down in Dachau blues

Down in Dachau blues
Three little children with doves on their shoulders
Their eyes rolled back in ecstasy cryin'

Please, old man stop this misery
They're countin' out the devil with two fingers on their hands
Beggin' the Lord don't let the third one land

On World War Three
On World War Three


Lyrics submitted by tomauto

"Dachau Blues" as written by Don Van Vliet

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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Dachau Blues song meanings
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7 Comments

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  • +3
    General CommentI had tried to listen to Trout Mask Replica a few years back and couldn't get past the first song - I thought it was crap, amateurish stuff. I was still always curious why a lot of people/critics felt that this was one of the greatest albums of all-time so I decided to try it again earlier this year. Rather than listen to each song critically, I just played it as "background" music while at work and then once the initial shock of the music had died, I started to listen more carefully to the obtuse lyrics. My 3 fave tracks are Frownland, Moonlight in Vermont and Dachau Blues.
    scooter2009on October 15, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentBut it's also an anti-war song, relating the Cold War arms race to previous conflicts, and supporting the anti-war/nuclear disarmament movement.
    losttangoon February 13, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentAbout the holocaust. Dachau was the name of one of the Nazi extermination camps.
    blacklabel88on March 13, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIt's really hard to appreciate Beefheart's lyrics while listening to his insane (yet awesome) music. After reading this, Dachau Blues has taken on a whole new level of brilliance for me.

    I would agree with the previous comments; Dachau refers to a Nazi death camp and this is most assuredly an anti war song:
    "the young ones now beggin' the old ones please
    t' stop bein' madmen
    'fore they have t' tell their children
    'bout the burnin' back in World War Three's"

    I don't usually go for weird or avant garde music, but something about Trout Mask Replica... idunno. The Captain's a genius.
    infamous branmuffinon April 11, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe last part on the track where they're talking about the rats sounds like a rendition of Albert Camus' "The Plague."
    occasualon July 09, 2014   Link
  • -1
    General CommentYou guys are right but way wrong. It's about dachau concentration camp, yes, and it's about anti-war, yes. What the song is ACTUALLY ABOUT IS THIS: Israel is the only Arab country with nukes, and that should scare the bejeezus out of us.

    Now you might think: Hey, random guy! 1.) How the hell do you know that to be true? 2.) Anti-semite! 3.) What's so wrong with israel?

    Let's start with a distinction: Israel and Jewish people are DISTINCT IDENTITIES. You can be an Israel Jew, and you can be a non-Jewish Israeli, and you can be a non-Israeli Jew.

    Now, here's why this song IS NOT JUST ABOUT WW2:

    Listen to the tone of the song:

    "cryin' bout the burnings back in world war 2's" "little children with doves on their shoulders, their eyes rolled back in ecstasy"

    Now if this song, as you guys indicate, was supposed to be about how bad Israel got shafted in WW2, those lines would not only be disrespectful but not even funny.

    Let's not forget that Israel became a country in 1948 by waltzing into Palestine and annexing land as they saw fit, claiming that what happened to Jewish people during World War 2 justifies taking land from other people. Israel has gone to war with its Arab neighbors 7 times between 1948 and now. In fact, this album was written between 1967 and 1968, immediately following the Six-Days War between Israel and Egypt, Jordan & Syria. Captain Beefheart used to hang out with Frank Zappa a lot. Frank Zappa's music was very influenced by the politics of the day. Israel is widely believed to have developed nuclear weapons in the late 60s, also right when this album was being written. This makes it almost certain that Captain Beefheart, someone who was politically conscious thanks to Frank Zappa, was aware of Israel's "bully status".

    Now that we've seen that Israel is a bit of a bully, examine the line "their eyes rolled back in ecstasy" - three things should make you suspicious that this song is not just about how bad the Jews got it from Hitler:

    1.) Ecstasy is NOT SOMETHING VICTIMS EXPERIENCE (so that rules out the song being about ww2).
    2.) Their eyes are rolled back in ecstasy is clearly referring to that Pentacostal brand of religious intoxication.
    3.) They're begging the Lord not to let THEIR OWN FINGER launch the FIRST STRIKE that will start WW3. If this song was about Holocaust survivors, shouldn't they be begging the Lord to stop OTHER PEOPLE from launching?

    Therefore, the song is about Israel being aggressive and territorial - Israel is depicted as young children with doves on their shoulders, asking god to prevent them from nuking their Arab neighbors for fun; and should we dare call Israel on this monstrous behavior, they raise the cry of ANTI-SEMITE - notice the lyrics say STILL cryin' bout the burnins back in WW2 - this means the cryin' has been going on and on. The "one mad man, six million lose" line? That's referring to how Israel's (then-)current behavior cheapens the plight Hitler put them through.

    The real message of this song then is this: "Hey, rest of the world! Israel here. We'll nuke (= burn millions of) our Arab neighbors if we feel like it, but it's ok because Hitler did it to us first!"
    FatsFatson March 19, 2013   Link
  • -2
    General CommentThe real message of this song then is this: "Hey, rest of the world! Israel here. We'll nuke (= burn millions of) our Arab neighbors if we feel like it, but it's ok because Hitler did it to us first!"
    FatsFatson March 19, 2013   Link

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