Song of the Day #4,292: ‘Butcher’s Tale (Western Front 1914)’ – The Zombies

This offbeat track appears on The Zombies’ classic 1968 album Odessey and Oracle. It tells the story of a World War I battle through the eyes of a beleaguered soldier.

Given the time of its writing and recording, this song was widely interpreted as a comment on the Vietnam War, and released as an unlikely single for that reason. It was backed by the far more accessible (and a favorite song of mine) ‘This Will Be Our Year.’

A butcher yes that was my trade
But the king’s shilling is now my fee
A butcher I may as well have stayed
For the slaughter that I see

And the preacher in his pulpit
Sermon: “Go and fight, do what is right”
But he don’t have to hear these guns
And I’ll bet he sleeps at night

And I
And I can’t stop shaking
My hands won’t stop shaking
My arms won’t stop shaking
My mind won’t stop shaking
I want to go home
Please let me go home
Go home

And I have seen a friend of mine
Hang on the wire like some rag toy
Then in the heat the flies come down
And cover up the boy

And the flies come down in Gommecourt
Thiepval, Mametz Wood, and French Verdun
If the preacher he could see those flies
Wouldn’t preach for the sound of guns

And I
And I can’t stop shaking
My hands won’t stop shaking
My arms won’t stop shaking
My mind won’t stop shaking
I want to go home
Please let me go home
Go home

2 thoughts on “Song of the Day #4,292: ‘Butcher’s Tale (Western Front 1914)’ – The Zombies

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    An unlikely single indeed.

  2. Amy says:

    Wow…. I am feeling a bit crazy right now…. just went back to read your post (and our comments) from 2008! When that song recently ?? had air play (was it in a movie or tv show?), I thought it was a new song by anew band. When you still super cool, now 24 year old! niece used it as the score for the video she put together from out Holiday trip last (2018/19) New Year’s Eve, I thought the same. I guess it was 11 years after you featured it as a SOTD, but still…

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