Clip Job: an excerpt every day from the Voice archives.
April 1, 1971, Vol. XVI, No. 13
By Howard Smith
RELEVANCY hasn’t exactly been Warhol-Morissey’s driving interest, but in “Pigs,” their latest epic drama, they go engage. Although the title stands for Politically Involved Girls, I’m not sure the Women’s Lib Movement will be able to form a completely clear opinion about this turned-around film. Can avowed transvestites — Jackie Curtis, Holly Woodlawn, and Candy Darling who have the leading roles — be as committed to the cause of women’s rights as born women? Is the question one of reversible radicalism? If the way in which a man and woman make love is a political act, is it still a political act if the woman is a transvestite?
Other than the film front, Warhol told me that he is seriously considering changing his name to John Doe. “I want a fresh start — I want to be a new person again. It’s time to start over.” He also said that he would probably be more into art than in recent years, and the name change would permit his new works to be sold more reasonably without affecting the high prices his old pieces have been pulling in at sales and auctions.
LYRIC FORESIGHT? That record, “The Battle Hymn of Lieutenant Calley,” came out about a week before he was found guilty. It’s sung to the tune of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” by a group called “C Company” which features Terry Nelson as Calley.
I talked with Nashville music mogul Shelby Singleton, owner of Plantation Records, the company that put it out. He explained that he isn’t a political person, and has no reaction to the subject matter that the song deals with: “I can’t afford to get involved in politics. The only thing I’m interested in is in selling a commodity, and I am satisfied when people buy it.” He said the record has been getting heavy airplay all over the South, especially around military bases where there seems to be a pretty favorable reception.
The lyrics are as follows: (Recited over music:) “Once upon a time there was a little boy who wanted to grow up and be a soldier and serve his country in whatever way he could. He would parade around the house with a saucepan on his head for a helmet, a wooden sword in one hand, and the American flag in the other. As he grew up, he put away the things of a child, but he never let go of the flag.”
(Verse sung:) “My name is William Calley, I’m a soldier of this land. I’ve tried to do my duty and they’ve made me out a villain, they’ve stamped me with a brand, as we go marching on.
“I’m just another soldier from the shore of USA, forgotten on a battlefield 10,000 miles away. While life goes on as usual from New York to Santa Fe, as we go marching on.
“I’ve seen my buddies ambushed on the left and on the right, their youthful bodies riddled by the bullets of the night, where all the rules are broken and the only law is might, as we go marching on.
“While we’re fighting in the jungles they were marching in the streets, while we’re dying on the rice fields they were helping our defeat, while we’re facing VC bullets they were sounding a retreat, as we go marching on.
“With our sweat we took the bunkers, with our tears we took the plain, with our blood we took the mountain and they gave it back again, still all of us are soldiers, we’re too busy to complain, as we go marching on.”
(Recite over music:) “When I reach my final campground in that land beyond the sun, and the great commander asks me ‘Did you fight or did you run?’ I’ll stand both straight and tall, stripped of medals, rank, and gun, and this is what I’ll say: Sir, I followed all my orders and I did the best I could, it’s hard to judge the enemy and hard to tell the good, yet there’s not a man among us who would not have understood; we took the jungle village exactly like they said, we responded to their rifle fire with everything we had, and when the smoke had cleared away 100 souls lay dead. Sir, the soldier that’s alive is the only one can fight, there’s no other way to wage a war when the only one is in sight that you’re sure is not a VC is your buddy on the right. When all the wars are over and the battle’s finally won, count me only as a soldier who never left his gun, with the right to serve my country as the only prize I’ve won. As we go marching on. Glory, glory, hallelujah…”
(Lyrics by James M. Smith and Julian Wilson, Shelby Singleton Music, Inc., and Quickit Publishing Company, copyright 1971.)
[Each weekday morning, we post an excerpt from another issue of the Voice, going in order from our oldest archives. Visit our Clip Job archive page to see excerpts back to 1956.]
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on November 29, 2010