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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
Moira Cameron Ewan MacColl - Recommendations? (27) Lyr Add: BROWNED OFF (Ewan MacColl) 04 Nov 98


Another Ewan MacColl album I really like, and it just happens to be appropriate for this time of year (Remembrance Day in Canada, that is), is one he did of songs of the first and second World Wars. Unfortunately I don't have the album myself. When I was taking a history course in University, one of our professors did a rather different sort of lecture when we came to the period of the World Wars. He got up in front of the lecture hall, began playing his guitar and sang about 30 minutes of war songs, most of which he learned from this MacColl album.

Needless to say, as a financially strapped student, I begged him for a dubbed copy of his recording, which he, thankfully, provided me. I would love to get the original some day. It's vintage MacColl. My favourite selection from the album is one that he wrote called Browned Off. I seem to recall from the liner notes, which I had borrowed at the time, this was a song he wrote during the second World War. It spread like wild-fire throughout the front lines and almost instantly became "traditional". Years later, so the story goes, MacColl came across someone singing the song and was said to remark: "That sounds like a great song; I'll have to learn it."

Browned Off
(Ewan MacColl)
I used to be a civvy chum, as decent as can be.
I used to think a working lad had a man's right to be free,
And then one day they made a lousy soldier out of me,
And told me I had got to save Democracy.

CHORUS: Oh, I was browned off, browned off, browned off as can be,
Browned off, browned off, an easy mark, that's me,
But when this war is over and again I'm free,
There'll be no more trips around the world for me.

They stuck me in a convict suit; they made me cut me hair.
They took me civvy shoes away; they gave me another pair.
Instead of grub they give me slush and plenty of fresh air,
And this was all to help to save democracy.

Now every day I'm on parade long before the dawn;
And every day I curse the bloody day that I was born,
For I am just a browned-off soldier, anyone can see.
They browned me off to help to save democracy.

The Colonel kicks the Major, then the Major has a go.
He kicks the poor old captain, who then kicks the NCO;
And as the kicks get harder, the poor private you can see,
Gets kicked to bloody Hell to save democracy!


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