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Young Men, White Gloves



 Genre: Political

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After the elimination of the Military Draft, the US Military has since faced a delicate problem:   how to make young people of a suitable and impressionable age want to sign up?   They did it through a slick and continuous advertising program that especially seems to be specifically focused upon ... the United States Marine Corps.

The cold realities of war are stripped away in favor of symbols.   “Iwo Jima™” ceases to be a 36-day hell-fight that killed or wounded 26,000 people:   it became “a glory-flag on a glory-hill.”   (Never mind that three out of the six men depicted never made it off the island ...)   Military enlistment became glory and manhood; a shiny glory-sword,™ prominently displayed right there on the side of a passing trailer-truck on the selfsame freeway.   The glory-sword, and all of the “glory” that supposedly comes with it, is now just an abstract thing – irresistible in its unattainability – that is:   “earned, never given.™”  

Yes, in all of this appealing imagery, there is no pain.   There is no sacrifice.   There is no brutality.   Especially, there is no bloodshed.   Even “Semper Fi™” seems to be less than “something to die for,” because this entire too-slick ad campaign seems somehow to overlook the fact that you might actually die – or worse.   (Or ... ugh ... “much, MUCH worse ...”)

It is ... all ... “so goddamned CLEAN.”

As every warrior comes soon-enough to know, this is not Reality.

Furthermore, the campaign shamelessly targets the poor, the disadvantaged:   the people for whom “dress blues” might be nicer clothes than their families could ever have afforded to give them.   They are promised a future with meaning ... not a future of maiming or death.   They are especially vulnerable.   And so, they are the ones especially exploited.

This song, then, is a protest.   N-O-T against those who have honorably served in the military (thank you ...), but, rather, against the people who have commercialized it, and who, in so doing, have sought to reduce it to the contents of “a billboard in the rain.”   This song is a protest against those who have trivialized the sometimes-mortal sacrifices of others ... and of their families and survivors ... by blatantly suggesting that sacrifice is somehow not involved.   It is a protest against those who daily sell the notion that War consists of a glory-filled symbolic identity, rather than ugly personal hell.
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(Copr. ©2016)

Young Men, with White Gloves,
At Attention,
On a Billboard
By the Freeway
In the Rain.

The Young Men, with the White Gloves
Are Calling
To our Children:
"Come and Join Us.
Have adventures.
Feel no pain."

... They look so young and strong.
... They look like nothing
... could possibly
... be
... wrong.

The Young Men, with the White Gloves
Say, "Come to Iwo Jima!"
"Wave a glory-flag
On a glory-hill
Where bullets
Never fly."
"Wield your glory-sword,
Very shiny,
To Slay
The Evil Enemy."
"Follow orders,
Never Questioned."
"Do your duty."
"Semper Fi.™"

... But the war
... Just kills them in the night.
... Out in the brutal desert,
... They sometimes die of
... fright.

So the Young Men, with the White Gloves
At Attention
As another Box,
Is buried 'neath the land.

And the Young Men, with their White Gloves
On a billboard
By the freeway ...
Call ..
... to our children ...
Once again.
Song Stats
Hits: 1233
Comments: 20
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Plays: 82
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Uploaded: Mar 04, 2016 - 02:30:56 PM
Last Updated: Mar 10, 2016 - 12:43:28 PM Last Played: Mar 30, 2017 - 07:00:38 AM
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Philip18 said 418 days ago (March 4th, 2016)
Young Men, White Gloves
A powerful and poignant presentation of your point of view.
DWL said 416 days ago (March 6th, 2016)
Fine writing Mike
Elegant and powerful.


Check out my latest song called War with Spain
kingbee said 415 days ago (March 7th, 2016)
Very moving piece. Simple layout but very very effective. Your explanation reminded me of the bit in a Michael Moore film Fareneheit 9/11 when the soldiers in the uniform are going round the mall car park in Flint trying to get the kids in a no hope town to sign up. Anyway, very good stuff. Enjoyed
Check out my latest song called No expense spared
MikeRobinson said 415 days ago (March 7th, 2016)
Thank you – mix comments?
Thank you, all.

My purpose was simplicity bordering on austerity.   Every time I tried in various ways to “flower it up,” I decided against it.   The only thing that it does, really, is to add a few new instrument parts on each run-through.   So, it remains, now, much like it first came to me last year when I was walking around the War Memorial in downtown Nashville ... a marble monument to the “Great™” War.   To the “War to End All Wars.™”   I almost thought that I heard that solitary, military drum in that cavernous hall.

As always, I welcome comments about the mix.   It sounds real good in phones; the bass is weak in the (MacBook Pro) computer speakers; it sounds bad in buds.

As for the sentiment of this piece, I wonder what this two-year old boy will think of this image when he becomes a grown man?   I wonder also what the widow thinks of it now.   (Her empty gaze speaks volumes.)   Plainly, the dead soldier bought into the “dress blues” image wholeheartedly, and taught it to his impressionable son.   But now, he’s dead.   And the benefits due the widow and her family don’t last for very long . . .

Somehow, those billboards never get around to talking about The Wounded Warrior Project . . .   If I could make this thing “go viral,” I would.
Check out my latest song called Young Men, White Gloves
mr_mordenus said 415 days ago (March 7th, 2016)
Starkly Poetic
"...the war just kills them in the night...
...out in the brutal desert, they sometimes die of...

Wow. I rarely see that difficult and dangerous line drawn between the action-movie *fantasy* of joining the military and the impossible-to-explain reality of what those young soldiers bring home illustrated this well. It's a tricky line, so easy to misunderstand and even easier to misinterpret.

That second 'chorus' is unforgettable. It should be on a billboard of its own.
Check out my latest song called Crankenhurst 2014 (Updated 1978 Version)
egobandit said 415 days ago (March 7th, 2016)
I agree
A billboard in the rain so aptly said , love the attention you give to the way you sing presents itself with emotion and conviction great song
Check out my latest song called Tempest Wave
grah3am said 414 days ago (March 8th, 2016)
And could maybe take a bit more starkness. A very dramatic piece.
Check out my latest song called Cradle, with Sam, David and Tom
J.A.Stewart said 412 days ago (March 9th, 2016)
A Billboard In The Rain...
... Shrouded In The Fog Of War.

A powerful statement, to be sure and as long as there is hate, fear and greed in this world there will be a need for human fodder. Sadly, Advertising has become an increasingly powerful tool — in politics, in government and in war.

The powers-that-be have used it effectively to divide and distract us, so that Eisenhower's urgent warning has reached monstrous fruition.

You rightly point out that the shame belongs to those who engineer and promote war — and not to those who have honorably served.

I recently lost my brother-in-law, a Marine Veteran of the Vietnam War. He was a man of quiet strength who readily helped anyone who needed it. We lost him to an enemy of ALL of us on this planet — Cancer.

I can't help but wonder how long it would take to vanquish that common enemy... if we invested the hundreds of billions of dollars we spend — yearly — on defense, on cancer research, instead.

"What Fools These Mortals Be."
— William Shakespeare
Check out my latest song called Crankenhurst Challenge - Verse 1-7 (Inst. Break)
davajonah said 412 days ago (March 10th, 2016)
Young men
Very powerful. I like all the military trimmings you've engineered into this, and the ominous undertones throughout. Very good. As for the mix, well, I'm listening on some pretty decent reference monitors and everything is coming through loud and clear.

Good stuff anyway.
Check out my latest song called Lost and Found
Warren Smith said 410 days ago (March 12th, 2016)
Protest song
Very effective piece of musical writing. Everything in the production works towards making and reinforcing your point decrying the commercialization of war.
Check out my latest song called On Your Knees
PeterB7858 said 408 days ago (March 14th, 2016)
Young Men, White Gloves
Bit late, Mike, sorry. Powerful, poignant reminder of the hidden (white-washed?) costs of war. Brings to mind that classic (oxymoronic) rallying cry, "Fighting For Peace"... The sympathetic arrangement works very well. Thanks.
Check out my latest song called Dancing In The Rain (GSB)
jiguma said 406 days ago (March 16th, 2016)
Powerful song Mike
I'm absent from MJ way more than often these days, and would probably not have come to this except for your forum post.
You've produced something very powerful here on a topic on which I have strong feelings. When the Australian government conscripted many young people for the Vietnam War, I was of conscriptable age (indeed people my age either side of my birthday were called up). My father, who was quite conservative in many ways, took me aside before the ballot and simply said "if your birthday is called, don't go - we'll do all we can to get you out of it". Dad spent many years in WW2 in the Royal Navy, and saw way more action than many. He was a total peacenik.
This song would have had tears in his eyes, as it has had with me.
On reading your forum post, I was wondering if, despite the quality of your own recording/performance, it may be a song that an established artist may be interested in recording. Not an ideal way of getting it out there, but my experience has been that no matter how much effort you put into getting a song "out there", the actual distribution can be miniscule at best.
Congratulations on a really top notch post Mike!
Check out my latest song called When Ya Gonna?
MikeRobinson said 405 days ago (March 17th, 2016)
Thank you ...
Thank you, all.

I consider this recording to be only a “scratch demo.”   I would cheerfully license it to any established artist, anywhere in the world, who wanted to do a proper production of it.

The basic musical treatment is more-or-less what I originally had in mind, but I’m no orchestrator, and some parts are simply repeated.   Neither am I a professional singer.   Even though I “sang from the heart,” this is the first and only take, with a certain amount of pitch-correction, and with one slight clam.   A true professional (team) would know what to do next.

I do, passionately, believe that the message needs to get out.   Everything that Gen. Eisenhower warned us of has come true with a vengeance, and people simply do not get to see the consequence.   In a way, of the people and the families whose lives are savaged by “War, Incorporated,” the dead are the lucky ones.   I have seen the maimed ones, including one now-gruesome lad who could not have yet been twenty years old.   But the advertising sure is slick . . .
Check out my latest song called Young Men, White Gloves
Hickling_Stan said 398 days ago (March 24th, 2016)
So Powerful
The slick manipulation by the media of a much grimmer reality. So glad I played this. Love the starkness and simplicity of it. Slight echo's of Don Henley "Month of Sundays"....quality piece.
Check out my latest song called Contagious Benediction
paul f. page said 393 days ago (March 29th, 2016)
All the comments above...
...echo my own thoughts about this powerful composition. Thank you for writing it and giving voice to what so many of us believe about war and its effects: there are no upsides!
Check out my latest song called Far From The Madding Crowd
mfwmiles said 384 days ago (April 7th, 2016)
Powerful Stuff
i read every word of your entire post before i even pushed the play button.

as someone who has slept in a muddy fox hole, i can tell you, what they sell you and what you get are very different.
Check out my latest song called The Miracle of Space and Time (ennead #8)
richard13 said 208 days ago (September 30th, 2016)
It is listed as political
which I really try to avoid but this is austerely beautiful: perceptively conceived and very well produced.
Check out my latest song called for Geoff, who doesn't like ambient
MikeRobinson said 205 days ago (October 3rd, 2016)
An "Iwo Jima" documentary from the Japanese point-of-view
I recently stumbled-upon this ... and it broke my heart ...

An Iwo Jima documentary from the Japanese point of view.

To the Japanese soldiers who died upon that island, knowing that rescue could never come to them, the catch-phrase that was delivered to their home-land was ... “honorable defeat.”

This is a sobering 54-minute documentary that is probably “entirely unlike” your pre-conceived notions of what such a film might be.
Check out my latest song called Young Men, White Gloves
MikeRobinson said 205 days ago (October 3rd, 2016)
"This Was Far Removed From The Heroism Of "An Honorable Death"
Please excuse me for twice in one day speaking from my heart, but the aforesaid documentary (05:12) says it all: “This [reality] was far removed from the reality of ‘An Honorable Death.’”

How much more awful, then, might it be, for earnest young American Men who barely know that their country has been engaged in Un-Declared War for more than fifteen years ... and counting?   The horrors of that war are simply not revealed to them.   When yet-another airplane full of coffins lands at Edwards Air Force Base, not a “blip” arrives on CNN or on FaceBook.   They literally have no idea what they are getting into.

So far, I have not yet figured out how to get this piece national exposure . . .
Check out my latest song called Young Men, White Gloves
Calchas said 116 days ago (December 31st, 2016)
Great piece.
Important message. I agree with you here on all counts!

This is only a "scratch demo"? OK then... How about a final version? This deserves the full treatment. I await it with bated breath...

Be well friend!
Check out my latest song called Lethe (Song Of Er)
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Name: Mike Robinson
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