Strange what sets off memories, what starts one crying.  Out of the blue, Emmylou (Western Wall – The Tucson Sessions):

1917 – Lyrics by David Olney

The strange young man who comes to me/ A soldier on a three-day spree/ Who needs one night’s cheap ecstacy/ And a woman’s arms to hide him/ He greets me with a courtly bow/And hides his pain by acting proud/ He drinks too much and he laughs too loud/ How can I deny him?

Let us dance beneath the moon/ I’ll sing to you "Claire de Lune"/ The morning always comes too soon/ But tonight the war is over/ He speaks to me in schoolboy French/ Of soldiers life inside a trench/ Of the look of death and the ghastly stench/ I do my best to please him 

He puts two roses in a vase/ Two roses sadly out of place/ Like the gallant smile on his haggard face/ Playfully I tease him/ Hold me ‘neath the Paris skies/ Let’s not talk of how or why/ Tomorrow’s soon enough to die/ But tonight the war over

We make love too hard, too fast/ He falls asleep, his face a mask/ He wakes with the shakes and he drinks from his flask/ I put my arms around him/ They die in the trenches and they die in the air/ In Belgium and France the dead are everywhere/ They die so fast there’s no time to prepare/ A decent grave to surround them

Old world glory, old world fame/ The old world’s gone, gone up in flames/ Nothing will ever be the same/ And nothing lasts forever/ Oh I’d pray for him but I’ve forgotten how/ And there’s nothing, nothing that can save him now/ There’s always another with the same funny bow/ And who am I to deny them.

The writing is heart-wrenching in its powerful story of a world at war as it brings it down to the most basic relationship between a man and a woman. Yes, it glorifies prostitution against a setting of war and sacrifice, and it romanticizes what I am sure was not as lovely and loving a tryst between two people in need.  But somewhere there was a moment, I think, that held this magic for someone.  At least I truly hope so.

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