Oh I marched to the battle of New Orleans
At the end of the early British war
The young land started growing
The young blood started flowing

But I ain't marchin' anymore
For I've killed my share of Indians
In a thousand different fights
I was there at the Little Big Horn
I heard many men lying
I saw many more dying
But I ain't marchin' anymore

It's always the old to lead us to the war
It's always the young to fall
Now look at all we've won with the saber and the gun
Tell me is it worth it all
For I stole California from the Mexican land
Fought in the bloody Civil War
Yes I even killed my brother
And so many others

And I ain't marchin' anymore
For I marched to the battles of the German trench
In a war that was bound to end all wars
Oh I must have killed a million men
And now they want me back again
But I ain't marchin' anymore

For I flew the final mission in the Japanese sky
Set off the mighty mushroom roar
When I saw the cities burning
I knew that I was learning
That I ain't marchin' anymore

Now the labor leader's screamin' when they close the missile plants
United Fruit screams at the Cuban shore
Call it, "Peace" or call it, "Treason"
Call it, "Love" or call it, "Reason"
But I ain't marchin' any more

Lyrics submitted by weezerific:cutlery

I Ain't Marchin' Anymore Lyrics as written by Phil Ochs

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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I Ain't Marching Anymore song meanings
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  • +3
    General CommentPhil Ochs should have been huge and this song is a prime example of how ahead of his time he was. He appreciates American Values, and takes these values that we hold so dear and juxtaposes them to what America is really doing. He does not directly place blame, rather, he uncovers the ironies, and plays on our value system to help solve the problem. His approach was truly revolutionary for its time. When songs like" Universal Soldier" were the forms orf protest songs that were popular. Rather than just being angry, he empowers people to take charge and stand up for what is right even if they are the underdog (A typically American archetype).

    “I Ain’t Marchin’ Anymore” is a classic example of a folk song because it is written in first person. Ochs takes transcendental approach to the song, by taking on many different personas of soldiers or participants in various American conflicts. He sings in first person, a technique used by a long tradition of folk singers. Folk singers are able to couch their political views in the characterizations they create for themselves. This also enables people to identify the issue with the person on the stage, ultimately, creating a more compassionate approach when addressing controversial issues. Ochs uses this technique to pose the question: has America’s violent history really been worth what it has gained?

    Ochs begins with the images of early American History. He takes on the person of a soldier who “marched to the battle of New Orleans” during the war of 1812, and then goes on to describe the outcome of that war: “The young land started growin’ / The young blood started flowin.’” The war allowed America to grow addressing the frontier myth surrounding the history of America’s expansion. Each verse questions almost every conflict in American history from Civil War to the Mexican American War, right on up to World War II. Each times Ochs hints that many of the conflicts rose out of American imperialism. The list of battles seems almost endless, emphasizing just how many wars America has been involved in since its Anglo history. Each soldier persona juxtaposes the battle that he took part in to its violence and loss of life, and as a result, chooses to stop marching as the refrain suggests: “But I Ain’t marchin’ anymore.” The conflicts never seem worth the price of the lives lost or the land gained for the soldier, so he chooses to stop, thus ending his association with the conflict.

    Upon the completion of every two verses, or wars, a theme begins to surface that Ochs uses in his appeal to American values. The persona explains in the chorus, “It’s always the old to lead us to the war / It’s always the young to fall.” He addresses the issue that it is always the older, policy makers who lead the country to war. They are the ones in power; however, they are never the ones to risk their lives. The youth and future of American are forced to die for whatever the cause may be, even if it is an unjust one. The persona goes on to ask, “Look at all we’ve won with the sabers and the guns / Tell me is it worth it all?” The persona asks his audience to see all that America has gained through the violence and killing of war and decide if it is really worth it.

    The involvement of America in conflicts all over the world seems endless, but throughout the song, Ochs urges people to stop marching. The final verse is his last appeal for protest as he sings, “Call it ‘Peace’ or call it ‘Treason’ / Call it ‘Love’ or call it ‘Reason’ / But I ain’t marchin’ anymore.” Whatever one wants to call the choice to stop marching and choose to go against one’s country’s desire for war, it does not matter. The patriotic thing to do is to stand up for what one believes in and join the revolution of not marching. If committing treason will restore peace then it will be worth it in the end. He is using Marqusee’s notions of social patriotism to create an idealized group of American people, who will cleanse the rest of America from the sins of its government.
    Three3Dayson July 28, 2007   Link
  • +2
    General CommentOchs is talking about the working classes being used as cannon fodder in all the wars that have taken place through history. But the young people finally stood up to the government in regards to vietnam, and war is finaly being opposed by all sensible people.
    ahismaon May 05, 2003   Link
  • +1
    General CommentBlack 47 did a cover of this where they changes the last chorus to:
    It's always the rich who lead us off to war
    It's always the poor who die.

    How true.
    spellmanon February 11, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentHail Atlantis. Peace, man. Peace.
    awayfromhomeon December 16, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentYES! Protest!
    weezerific:cutleryon April 05, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI concur. :)
    VoOrHeEson May 05, 2004   Link

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