Daily Archives: March 7, 2012

Radio V, side A, track 9: “I Don’t Want To Be A Hero” by Johnny Hates Jazz

Oh, Johnny Hates Jazz, I need to apologize for not giving you enough credit.  Back when I first heard this song, I didn’t really pay attention to the lyrics of this one.  I thought it was a love song; well, not a love song, but a relationship-y song about how you didn’t want to be some girl’s hero, maybe something about how you didn’t want her to put you on a pedestal and build you up so that she had unrealistic expectations about who you were.  But no, when you were singing about sending you off to war and joining parades and all that, you weren’t speaking metaphorically.  You were actually talking about going off to war, and in fact were singing a pretty blistering anti-war diatribe.  But it was a diatribe buried in your light pop stylings, so if you weren’t paying attention (which I wasn’t), you missed the real message of war’s brutality and the price that soldiers pay both in wars abroad and when they come back home shattered and beaten.  So yeah, a bitter, anti-war protest song with almost Dylan-esque lyrics.  Sung by Johnny Hates Jazz.  The late ’80’s were a strange time.  And they probably would have been stranger if I’d been paying attention.

“I Don’t Want To Be A Hero

Oh, send me off to war
With a gun in my hand
But I won’t pull the trigger
Our destiny is here
‘Neath the red, white and blue
So lead me to the slaughter

Now don’t be afraid
Come and join the parade
For the ultimate in sacrifice
It’s an old-fashioned story
Of hope and of glory
A ticket for taking a life

I, I don’t wanna be a hero
I don’t wanna die for you
I don’t wanna be a hero
No

Oh, send me off to war
In a faraway land
I never knew existed
Subject me to the truth
To the horror and pain
Until my mind is twisted

And what if I fail
Will you put me in jail
For a murder I will not commit?
’cause you don’t understand
’til there’s blood on your hands
That it’s time to forget and forgive

I (I) I don’t wanna be a hero
I don’t wanna die for you
I don’t wanna be a hero
No

Oooo

No no no no

Oh no (oh no)

And those who return
Come back only to learn
That they’re hated by those who they love
‘Cos you’re not satisfied
Till a thousand have died
And your anger is paid for in blood

I (I) I don’t wanna be a hero
I don’t wanna die for you
I don’t wanna be a hero

Woah no no

(Oh, send me off to war)
I (I) I don’t wanna be a hero
I don’t wanna die for you
I don’t wanna be a hero

Oh no

(Oh, send me off to war)
I (I) I don’t wanna be a hero

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