Song of the Week – Mama Bake A Pie (Daddy Kill A Chicken), Drive-By Truckers


There is a lot of violence in the world right now – in Nigeria, Syria, Iraq, Ukraine and more recently Gaza. “Can’t we all just get along?”

All this fighting got me thinking about one of my favorite antiwar songs. In the early 70s country artist Tom T. Hall wrote “Mama Bake A Pie (Daddy Kill A Chicken)” as his protest of the Viet Nam war. Hall earned the nickname “The Storyteller” for songs such as his most famous – “The Harper Valley PTA.” “Mama…” is another story song that has been covered by numerous artists over the years.

Today’s SotW is the version by The Drive-By Truckers.

The song is about a guy coming home from the war after his legs have been blown off. He’s sarcastic when commenting on his sacrifice.

The war is over for me
I’ve forgotten everything except the pain
Thank you sir, and yes sir, it was worth it
For the ol’ red, white and blue

He’s hiding a bottle of whiskey under the blanket that’s covering his legs and cracking jokes to cover his embarrassment.

I can see the stewardess make over me
And ask, “Were you afraid?”
I’ll say, “Why no? I’m Superman
And couldn’t find the phone booth quite in time”
A GI gets a lot of laughs
He remembers all the funny lines

Then comes the chorus. It describes the banality of how life will go on as it always has – for everyone but him.

Mama bake a pie
Daddy kill a chicken
Your son is coming home
11:35, Wednesday night

But the real tearjerker is in the next verses when the soldier tries to predict how the girlfriend that dumped him when he went to war will react to his plight.

The letter that she wrote me said, “Goodbye”
She couldn’t wait and lots of luck
The bottle underneath the blanket
Feels just like an old friend to my touch

I know she’ll come and see me
But I bet she never once looks at my legs
Now, she’ll talk about the weather
And the dress she wore the July 4th parade
Lord, I love her and I don’t believe
This bottle’s gonna get her off my mind

That is as poignant a sentiment that you’ll hear in any song.

Mama bake a pie, daddy kill a chicken…

Enjoy… until next week.

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