Music

'Travelin' Soldier': The Story Behind The Chicks' Heartbreaking Story Song

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Americans pride themselves in their armed forces. It is a long-standing tradition in American music to honor those who have served in the US Military. One of the most popular of these songs is 'Travelin' Soldier' by The Chicks (formerly the Dixie Chicks.)

Good songwriters always choose the best music to record. The Chicks are phenomenal songwriters themselves, and they chose a lot of great songs written by others, as well. "Travelin' Soldier" was written by Texas singer-songwriter Bruce Robison of Austin, Texas. Robison released the song on his 1999 album Long Way Home From Anywhere. 

The Chicks recorded it and released it on their 2002 album Home. The song was the power group's sixth and final single to reach the No. 1 spot on charts. The band's single "I'm Not Ready To Make Nice" was their last single to chart, peaking at No. 4.

While Robison wrote the song about a Vietnam soldier, when The Chicks released the song, the US was right in the midst of sending soldiers to Iraq. In 2003, the band was on tour promoting the song when lead singer, Natalie Maines, told their London audience that she was ashamed of US President George W. Bush for his work in the 2003 Iraq invasion. Many radio stations in the US dropped the single.

Read More: Kelly Willis & Bruce Robison: The First Couple of Texas Country Music

Shortly after this event, Sherly Crow released a version of the song in solidarity with The Chicks.

"Travelin' Soldier" is the story of a teenage girl who is waiting for a young soldier who has been drafted. The girl writes letters and waits for the soldier to return from the war. The song paints a beautifully tragic picture for the listener, who also starts to wait for the soldier's return.

'Travelin' Soldier' Lyrics:

Two days past eighteen
He was waiting for the bus in his army green
Sat down in a booth in a cafe there
Gave his order to a girl with a bow in her hair
He's a little shy so she give him a smile
So he said would you mind sittin' down for a while
And talking to me, I'm feeling a little low
She said I'm off in an hour and I know where we can go
So they went down and they sat on the pier
He said I bet you got a boyfriend but I don't care
I got no one to send a letter to
Would you mind if I sent one back here to you

So the letters came from an army camp
In California then Vietnam
And he told her of his heart
It might be love and all of the things he was so scared of
He said when it's getting kinda rough over here
I think of that day sittin' down at the pier
And I close my eyes and see your pretty smile
Don't worry but I won't be able to write for a while

One Friday night at a football game
The Lord's Prayer said and the anthem sang
A man said folks would you bow your head
For the list of local Vietnam dead
Crying all alone under the stands
Was the piccolo player in the marching band
And one name read and nobody really cared
But a pretty little girl with a bow in her hair

I cried
Never gonna hold the hand of another guy
Too young for him they told her
Waitin' for the love of a travelin' soldier
Our love will never end
Waitin' for the soldier to come back again
Never more to be alone when the letter says
A soldier's coming home

 

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'Travelin' Soldier': The Story Behind The Chicks' Heartbreaking Story Song