There was a decorated general with a heart of gold
That likened him to all the stories he told
Of past battles, won and lost and legends of old
A seasoned veteran in his own time

On the battlefield, he gained respectable fame
With many medals of bravery and stripes to his name
He grew a beard as soon as he could
To cover the scars on his face and always urged his men on

But on the eve of a great battle with the infantry in dream
The old general tossed in his sleep and wrestled with its meaning
He awoke from the night to tell what he had seen
And walked slowly out of his tent

All the men held tall with their chests in the air
With courage in their blood and a fire in their stare
It was a gray morning and they all wondered how they would fare
The old general told them to go home

He said, "I have seen the others and I have discovered
That this fight is not worth fighting
Oh and I've seen their mothers
And I will no other to follow me where I'm going"

So take a shower and shine your shoes you got no time to lose
You are young men you must be living, yeah
Take a shower and shine your shoes you got no time to lose
You are young men you must be living, go now you are forgiven

Yeah and the men stood fast with their guns on their shoulders
Not knowing what to do with the contradicting orders
The general said, he would do his own duty but he would
Extend it no further the men could go as they pleased

But not a man moved, their eyes gazed straight ahead
Till one by one they stepped back and not a word was said
And the old general was left with his
Own words echoing in his head, he then prepared to fight

He said, "I have seen the others and I have discovered
That this fight is not worth fighting
Oh and I've seen their mothers
And I will no other to follow me where I'm going"

So take a shower and shine your shoes you got no time to lose
You are young men you must be living, yeah
Take a shower and shine your shoes you got no time to lose
You are young men you must be living, go now you are forgiven

Go now you are forgiven
Go now you are forgiven
Go now you are forgiven
Go

Go now you are forgiven
Go now you are forgiven
Go now you are forgiven
Go

Go now you are forgiven
Go now you are forgiven
Go now you are forgiven
Go
...



Lyrics submitted by dragonflower44, edited by taramae88

The General song meanings
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240 Comments

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  • +2
    General CommentJesus refrences fit anything. I don't think there is one here. I think the song is a bit deeper than ya'll think.

    First its the sotry of a general. The general's life is to fight. Fighting is his job, duty, and probably the reason the general thinks he exists.

    He "sees the others" his opponents and sees we are the same as everyone else. We are all human we all have mothers dying isn't worth it.

    He tells his men, who are not living to fight and die but only ordered to at his command, that he has re-thaught his life-- his purpose.

    The men, or the common folk, really don't want to fight--thats for the general and the poloticans to do. Most folks just want to live and exsist happily.
    "the men could go as they please"-- the general releases them from certain death. They are young men they must be living. They are fogiven--they are not the ones messing up to world--its him.
    Take a shower, shine your shoes-- cleanse yourself. just live happily.

    But the general is born to fight and cannot live happily. he exsists to fight-- he has no other purpose, but now he realizes war is evil.
    "he then prepares to fight."
    He charges the enemy by himself to certain death. He will die. but his men will live. The war will be over and lives will be saved.

    Since there are no more men to lead to battle--and indeed he doesn't want to fight anymore because he realizes everyone is really the same-- his life is essentially over. It doesn't matter if he fights, lives or dies. He essentially dies when his army disbands-- he disbands it and essentially commits suicide in the name of pacifism.
    I would assume he is forgiven too.

    Thats my two cents. Try looking at the story told more than the catch phrases. Most old-school generals had beards that doesn't mean he is jesus.

    Granted the way I tell the story with him scarficing himself may seem jesus-like. I guess it could be but I prefer to keep the image of the song as a general not as jesus.

    What would the implication be if the general was a jesus figure?
    Well... it appears jesus is fighting a war? A holy war. In other words the song symbolizes religious wars. But religious wars and forced conversions are bad as per this song. The other are like us. There is no reason to opress the native Americans, the arabs, and others in the name of jesus. The general realizes this in his dream. He realizes his whole life--and exsistence-- is full of "it." The general disbands his followers. The men are no longer in his command--no longer sheep. The general charges and essentially dies. If its jesus like it seems to be that religion destroys itself in this song.

    If the general is a jesus figure then the song is anti-religion. The songs meaning would then be that religion doesn't matter and for the most part is foolish because it leads to war. Just live your lives with kindness and compassion for "the other." There is no reason to make yourself a slave to a general who just opresses others.

    Jesus refrences aren't allways pro-jesus.
    -D
    sd003kon April 23, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General Commentit is not about jesus....take a shower, shine ya shoes

    ....maybe "splash yaself with some water from a bucket and buff ya sandles would be more appropriate"
    derfmanon February 07, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI'll just leave this here...

    From en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…

    In The Best of Dispatch, a book containing guitar and voice transcriptions of selected Dispatch songs, Chad Urmston describes "The General":

    “ This was our anti-war song. Although it was primarily based on the Civil War, the message was not confined to that particular conflict. We were too young to be directly involved in the Gulf War; nevertheless, the sense of a troubled history rings loud in the heads of young men who grow up listening to grandfathers or fathers recount war stories. The crowd response to this song always blew us away. Some said it had a "Castles Made of Sand" feel - any reference to Hendrix we took gladly. "
    cashpuck79on October 17, 2010   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationI really don't think its about Jesus, the idea just fits. And one thing that does not work at all, is that he was "a decorated general", which would've meant Jesus fought wars and killed many people in the process. And the line about growing a beard, you forget the next line about it being to cover up his scars, so he was tryign to cover up scars from past wars when he shaved before.

    The real meaning is more of a story, when a general dreamt of the devastation war caused the night before a battle. He has been in many wars, killed many people, and he thought he was war, and he couldnt be anything else. When the men were waiting for orders, he told them to go home, live a life without war, and he will go into battle by himself to die, because he feels he has no other purpose in life to kill, so he decides to kill himself so no others will die. when the soldiers hear the order, they didn't know whether do as he say or as he do, and decide to do as he say and watch and the general goes into battle (his suicide) by himself to make sure that no one else dies because of his infantry.

    the chorus is his orders, and his dream that prompted his to his realization. the second part "take a shower, shine your shoes...go now you are forgiven" IS the general telling them to live a life meant for them, peacefully, and also saying that is you leave before this battle, god will forgive you and you would be "cursed" like he is
    pianton May 12, 2012   Link
  • +1
    General CommentWhen Turnus is about to drag his soldiers to a hopeless war against the Trojans who were destined to find Rome on his soil, everyone tells him to fight along because they won't fight with him. After a long debate, Turnus convinces the soldiers that they must fight for honor, no matter how hopeless. When about to go into war Turnus tells his men to retreat and fights Aeneas, eventual founder of Rome, one on one sending his men to safety. Turnus dies, which is also implied in the song. Turnus is displayed as a villan and evil (just like war to the members of dispatch) but true honor stems from fighting your own battles. Perhaps DIspatch is claiming that if the rich and powerful want to start wars, the greatest honor would to fight it for themselves, like the General in this song.
    Tbalkin7on October 04, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General Commentnothing much
    dyldawgydawgon January 12, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI'm one of those crazy anti-war people (don't get me started though), and i love this song for its message..
    " I have seen the others
    And I have discovered
    That this fight is not worth fighting"

    now if only everyone else would get it ;)
    anna118kon January 31, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Commenthahah this song is ok..i just dont like it when ppl think they love dispatch for this song..ahhaha actually i dont care but dispatch is great and this song is pretty great and it mean a lot
    juss719on February 03, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti love this song, it's one of 4 that i got off my friend's computer on the network at school, and i love it, and the other 3. i need to get more, but i'm having computer issues-- it won't let me download any right now.......
    medusaon February 26, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWhoa folks. This song is hot and it is antiwar, but I've heard the hidden identity of the "general" is supposed to be Jesus....grew a beard as soon as he could, his infantry in dream, urged his men on.... going to face the fight alone----I just thought it was cool when I heard that, I never would have figured it myself
    DukeOfNYCon April 10, 2002   Link

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