Songs that Remind me of Silent Heroes: the Afghan people

songs to remind of Silent Heroes

My latest contemporary fiction, Silent Heroes, looks at the War in Afghanistan from a different perspective: that of the soldiers taking part in it and of the Afghan people caught in it. Because there are always two sides to a story. Part of my research was listening to music. I’ll share with you a few songs that now remind me of the courageous Afghan people.

Pentatonix – ‘Mary Did You Know’

The first time I heard Mary Did You Know, it was sung by my daughter’s college choir. I thought there wasn’t a more beautiful tune, nor more heartbreaking lyrics.

Mary Did You Know is a Christmas hymn to Mary, Mother of Jesus, but I feel that any mother can relate to it, especially the mothers of soldiers. While researching and writing Silent Heroes I often asked myself, how must these mothers feel like?

The soldier’s mothers, back home in the safety of their big cities, yet not able to pinpoint on the map the exact location of their children? How they felt in the first moment they heard their child will fight in Afghanistan, as a soldier?

The Afghan kids’ mothers, each morning they face another day of war, knowing that when their child leaves through the door it might be the last time they see him?

‘Mary did you know that your baby boy would one day walk on water?
Mary did you know that your baby boy would save our sons and daughters?
Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new?
This child that you’ve delivered, will soon deliver you

Mary did you know that your baby boy will give sight to a blind man?
Mary did you know that your baby boy will calm a storm with his hand?
Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod?
When you kiss your little baby, you kiss the face of God.’

Pentatonix, Mary Did You Know – Songwriters: Buddy Greene / Mark Lowry
Mary, Did You Know? lyrics © Warner Chappell Music, Inc, Universal Music Publishing Group, Capitol Christian Music Group (source)

Creedence Clearwater Revival – ‘Fortunate Son’

This song was released in 1969, during the peak period of the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. To me, it speaks more of the unfairness of disadvantages between different social classes, the unfairness that a war plays on the civilians of a country, an unfairness that will project itself over the future generations.

‘Some folks are born made to wave the flag
Ooh, they’re red, white and blue
And when the band plays “Hail to the chief”
Ooh, they point the cannon at you, Lord
It ain’t me, it ain’t me, I ain’t no senator’s son, son
It ain’t me, it ain’t me, I ain’t no fortunate one, no.’

Songwriters: John C Fogerty
Fortunate Son lyrics © The Bicycle Music Company. Find lyrics here.

Afghani Rabab: “Valley” Folksong

Music speaks so much about the spirit of a nation, and so are its national instruments. There is so much intensity in this song, a love for life. I can see the sun rising over the Hindu Kush Mountains and the Afghan women spinning in dance, children chasing one another over rocky rivers, catching fish to take back to their mother to cook for dinner. One of many beautiful songs that remind my of unknown Silent Heroes, Afghan people too.

Afghani folk-song entitled “Valley” written and performed by Quraishi and accompanied by Samir Chatterjee on tabla.
A rubab, robab or rabab is a lute-like musical instrument originating from central Afghanistan. The rubab is mainly used by Pashtun, Tajik. sadly, making a rabab today is a dying art.

Afghani Rabab. songs-remind-Afghan-people
Afghani Rabab. SONY DSC

“They are Shiites and, most of the time, anti-Taliban,” Marcos went on. “Pashtuns dress differently and are easy to recognise. They tend to leave an end of their headdress loose so they can cover their mouth and noses in the dust storms of southeast Afghanistan, where they mostly live. Pashtuns are indo-Iranians by race and language. They mostly wear a qmis, which is a loose-fitting shirt that reaches down to the knees and a shalwar, pants tied with a string at the waist. Pashtuns typically have dark skin and more western features.”

Silent Heroes by Patricia Furstenberg
Pashtun culture. songs-remind-Afghan-people
Silent Heroes by Patricia Furstenberg

You can BUY Silent Heroes from Amazon UK, Amazon US, Amazon Australia, Amazon Canada, or Amazon Worldwide: link here to your preferred Amazon website.

Songs that Remind me of the Marines, my Silent Heroes

Songs Remind me of Silent Heroes

Music evokes vibrant images and these three tunes are only a few of the songs that remind me of the fighting Marines, the main characters from my book Silent Heroes.
I mostly do my writing in a quiet space, listening to the words playing in my mind, but every so often I turn to music for inspiration, for its regular or progressive rhythm if I must describe a battle scene, or for the emotions it stirs when I am faced with a life-and-death situation.

Five Finger Death Punch – ‘Wrong Side Of Heaven’

This is a heart-wrenching musical video about the futility of war, its real, hideous face and the reality we choose not to acknowledge: that wars change – for the worst – the lives of all those involved in them, soldiers too. It was also one of the songs that also inspired me to write Silent Heroes.

‘Arms wide open
I stand alone
I’m no hero and I’m not made of stone
Right or wrong
I can hardly tell
I’m on the wrong side of heaven and the righteous side of hell
The wrong side of heaven and the righteous side,
The righteous side of hell ‘

Songwriters: Ivan Moody / Jeremy Spencer / Kevin Churko / Thomas Jason Grinstead / Zoltan Bathory
Wrong Side of Heaven lyrics © Sony/ATV. Find the lyrics here.

The White Stripes – ‘Seven Nation Army’

Although this song is about how shallow gossip is, I like the feeling of loneliness it evokes, the solitude of those caught under the spotlight. I think that soldiers, through the nature of their occupation, are under the spotlight, permanently in the news, yet very few spectators grasp the real meaning of their sacrifice.

‘And I’m talking to myself at night
Because I can’t forget
Back and forth through my mind
Behind a cigarette
And the message coming from my eyes
Says leave it alone.’

Seven Nation Army by The White Stripes, lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group. Find lyrics here.

Another one of the songs that inspired me when writing about the Marines in Silent Heroes is:

Prokofiev – ‘Dance of the Knights’

I listened to this song often when working on my battle scenes, although it is part of his Romeo and Juliet ballet. I found it strongly related to death. The loud, rhythmic beginning is very war-like in a dignifying way. The second, pianissimo part, speaks of the Angel of Death, but of the soldiers’ loneliness on the battlefield as well.

‘Dunn turned his head to respond. That’s when his whole body disappeared into a deafening blast of rocks, leaves, smoke, and blood.
That day it rained with dirt.
Conde felt his body thrown to the ground and he landed on his back, dirt in his mouth, dust all over his face. The wave had gone right through him.
Behind him, everyone threw themselves around looking for cover, weapons at the ready.
The dust was still settling on the road ahead when Conde jumped to his feet, yelling Dunn’s name.
“Medic, over here!”
He could taste blood and it smelled like charred flesh.
Was he talking? He couldn’t hear himself, just a constant ring in his ears.
“Medic, over here!” he yelled, again and again, wiping dust and water from his eyes and looking all over the ground for Dunn. The acrid air made him choke. It smelled of burned tyres and ammonia.
Focus, Conde. Focus!
Just ahead of him Dunn was laying on his back, legs sprawled, not moving. Conde felt his body freeze in panic. Was Dunn dead? Please, no! He forced himself to move ahead, his mind racing in circles, remembering what had to be done in a first aid combat situation. That’s when he heard Dunn moaning.
Blood was sipping through his left leg. Dunn was trying to feel it, but his left hand was missing its fingers. Tourniquet! It flashed through Conde’s mind and his body snapped in motion, the Marine having tightened the first tourniquet around Dunn’s left leg before their medic arrived on the scene.
“Easy, buddy, stay with me,” said Conde trying to see if Dunn’s eyes were open or closed but the blood and dust caking the fallen Marine’s face made things difficult. Conde felt like he was in a dream, the one where he would try to open his eyes as large as he could, still no image would form. Eventually, the white of Dunn’s eyes shone through.
“We got you, buddy. We got you,” said the medic, feverishly wrapping combat gauze over the Marine’s hands. The white bandage looked like show balls against the bloody background. But not for long.
“Don’t give up. I’ll beat you up if you dare giving up, Sarge! You hear me?!” Conde’s voice came out croaky.
“Easy, Conde,” someone said nearby and Kent kneeled, helping hold Dunn’s hands upright.
“Nice and easy.”
“We got you, Dunn.”
“Someone call MEDEVAC!” Conde yelled.
“Easy, buddy. Already done. They’re on their way.”
“Where’s a landing strip over here?”
Conde wiped dust and water from his eyes again, leaving strikes of blood behind.
“Damn rain!
“Where are they going to land, Sarge? There is no freaking landing area here, only freaking trees! Damn trees!” the Marine panicked.
“It’s okay, man. They’ll drop a cord for us, said Kent” ‘

Silent Heroes by Patricia Furstenberg
Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for. Songs-Remind-Marines-Silent-Heroes
Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for – New Contemporary Fiction by Patricia Furstenberg

You can BUY Silent Heroes from Amazon UK, Amazon US, Amazon Australia, Amazon Canada, or Amazon Worldwide: link here to your preferred Amazon website.

These are the songs that remind me of the Marines depicted in Silent Heroes. Next time I’ll tell you about the songs I listened to to stir emotions rooted in the lives of the Afghan people.

The #MusicMonday meme was created by Drew @ The Tattooed Book Geek. You can pick a song that you really like and share it on Monday. I thoroughly enjoyed this blog feature on Mischenko’s lovely blog, ReadRantRockandroll .

Which songs inspire you? Which songs you find yourself returning to?

WW1, Christmas 1914 Truce Song by Catherine Rushton, Music Monday

WW1 Christmas Truce

Through blog posts or books, war and dogs are a constant presence on my blog. My thoughts seem to gravitate towards them. Since yesterday we made our first Christmas decorations for this year, Noel was on my mind and so it happened that I discovered this musical gem on YouTube: a Christmas war song – how else? Christmas 1914 – Truce Song was composed by talented Catherine Rushton in 2004. Ten years later she published this soulful, folk song online at a friend’s request. It has almost 13 000 views now.

To help UK veterans suffering from PTSD, Catherine donated the WW1 Christmas Truce Song to Combat Stress for Veteran’s Mental Health. You can visit Catherine’s fundraising page here.

Here are the lyrics and guitar chords for Christmas 1914 Truce Song by Catherine Rushton

G ………………………………………………. C ………………. G
I am Private Angus Turnbull of the Highland Infantry.
……. C ……………….. G …………. D7
In Flanders field I fought the Hun.
………. G …… D7 ….. C …………….. G
And there I fell, but I’ve a tale to tell
………………………….. D7 ……………….. G C G
Of the Christmas I witnessed at the front.

‘Twas early Christmas morning when we heard the strangest sound
As silence crept through no-man’s land,
And the next we knew a German gunner crew
Had crossed the halfway line to shake our hands.

D7 ……………………………………… C …………… G
We were enemies one day and brothers the next.

……………….. D7 ……………….. C ……………………… G
We shared photographs and beer and schnapps, jokes and cigarettes.

…………. Em ……………… Am ………D7 ……….. C
‘Twas a sight I wish all mankind could have seen,

………… G ……….. D7 …………… G C G
That Christmas, nineteen fourteen.


For three days we played football, three nights we drank and sang
‘Til it came time to say farewell.
Then we went to ground; each side fired three rounds
And just like that we all were back in hell.

….. And we showed the world that peace was not a dream ….

Two weeks later I was buried while the war ran on and on
‘Til thirty million lost their lives,
But don’t weep for me beneath this poppy field
For I saw paradise before I died.

…. And I came to understand what Christmas means …

G
Stille Nacht, heilige nacht
Am …….. D …. G
Alles schlaft, einsam wacht
C ……………………….. G
Nur das traute hochheilige paar
C ……………………. G
Holder knabe im lockigen haar
Am ……… D ………….. G
Schlaf in himmlicher ruh!
G ………… D ………….. G
Schlaf in himmlicher ruh!

I hope you enjoyed listening to the hauntingly beautiful WW1 Christmas 1914 Truce Song by Catherine Rushton.

WW1 Christmas Truce song and football game
Armistice Day football match at Dale Barracks between German soldiers and Royal Welsh fusiliers to remember the famous Christmas Day truce between Germany and Britain -source PCH

During the WW1, in the winter of 1914m a Christmas Day football truce game between Germans and the British was won 2-1 by Germans. It was started by a soccer ball kicked from a British trench and ended by two German snipers.

WW1 Christmas Truce song and  Illustrated London News – the Christmas Truce  1914 – source wikipedia
Illustrated London News – the Christmas Truce 1914 – source wikipedia

Christmas Truce, Weihnachtsfrieden, Trêve de Noël, took place during 24-25 December 1914: British, French & German crossed the trenches to exchange greetings and play soccer.

If you d wonder, no Christmas Truce took place during WW2 although a German woman, Elisabeth Vincken, sheltered and fed three US soldiers and four German ones, all lost and hungry. Nearby the Battle of the Bulge was taking place. It was Christmas Eve, Heiligabend 1944.

WW1 Christmas Truce song and WW2 Christmas time, Battle of Bulge
Battle of the Bulge-WW2, Christmas time

Whatever you do this Festive Holiday, however you choose to celebrate it, do spare a thought for those who fell during the countless wars we put behind us, be it in historical locations or not, or are still taking place.

Song lyrics and movie clip are property and copyright of their owners and are provided for educational purposes and personal use only.

The #MusicMonday meme was created by Drew @ The Tattooed Book Geek. You can pick a song that you really like and share it on Monday. I thoroughly enjoyed this blog feature on Mischenko’s lovely blog, ReadRantRockandroll .

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Movie Music Monday, Wartime Classic, WW2, Begin the Beguine, Happy New Year via @PatFurstenberg #HappyNewYear #ww2 #moviemusicmonday

A most beloved war-time classic song, Begin the Beguine was composed by Cole Porter in 1935, turned into a swing by Artie Shaw and band and made famous by Fred Astaire and Eleanor Powell. Their legendary tap dance in the movie Broadway Melody surely caught on.

Begin the Beguine  by Cole Porter – lyrics

“When they begin the beguine
It brings back the sound of music so tender,
It brings back a night of tropical splendor,
It brings back a memory ever green.I’m with you once more under the stars,
And down by the shore an orchestra’s playing
And even the palms seem to be swaying
When they begin the beguine.To live it again is past all endeavor,
Except when that tune clutches my heart,
And there we are, swearing to love forever,
And promising never, never to part.What moments divine, what rapture serene,
Till clouds came along to disperse the joys we had tasted,
And now when I hear people curse the chance that was wasted,
I know but too well what they mean;So don’t let them begin the beguine
Let the love that was once a fire remain an ember;
Let it sleep like the dead desire I only remember
When they begin the beguine.Oh yes, let them begin the beguine, make them play
Till the stars that were there before return above you,
Till you whisper to me once more,
“Darling, I love you!”
And we suddenly know, what heaven we’re in,
When they begin the beguine”

Songwriters: Cole PorterBegin the Beguine lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc, Memory Lane Music Group (Domestic)

Song lyrics and movie clip are property and copyright of their owners and are provided for educational purposes and personal use only.

The #MusicMonday meme was created by Drew @ The Tattooed Book Geek. You can pick a song that you really like and share it on Monday. I thoroughly enjoyed this blog feature on Mischenko’s lovely blog, ReadRantRockandroll .

What are your thoughts on wartime beloved songs? Do you have a favorite? Let me know in comments below.

Thank you for visiting my website.

Movie Music Monday, White Christmas, Holiday Inn, 1942, BingCrosby, Fred Astaire via @PatFurstenberg #Christmas #moviemusicmonday

Movie Music Monday, White Christmas, Holiday Inn, 1942, Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire via @PatFurstenberg #Christmas #moviemusicmonday

I can never resist the romantic glamour of 1940’s-1950’s Hollywood musicals and its Golden Era in general. The fabulous musicals produced then still offer a generous amount of escapism. Be it Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, Humphey Bogart, Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh, I’m sold!

Holiday Inn is a movie filled with romance, music, gentleman-like manners, dance, dance, dance and fabulous gowns!

Here are Bing Cosby and lovely Virginia Dale in one of the most memorable and enchanting rendition of White Christmas:

Do you know the story behind the White Christmas song?

White Christmas is the most popular Christmas song ever written.

The lyrics to the song were created by Irving Berlin (1880-1989), born Israel Baline in Tyumen, Siberia (definitely knew a thing or two about what a real white Christmas looks like!). Irving, together with seven siblings and parents, emigrated to the US in 1893. Everybody had to work to make ends meet. After the death of his father Israel, 21 years of age, took a job as a “song plugger” (performing new songs in saloons, vaudeville theaters or on street corners). This experience proved invaluable and Berlin learned first hand what the audience and the what audience enjoyed the most music-wise.

The first draft of White Christmas was probably drawn in California but it was finished in Berlin’s weekend house in New York at the very beginning of 1940 and it soon to be performed in the musical Holiday Inn and performed by Bing Crosby.

History, however, had other plans.

On December 7 1941 Japan bombed the American port Pearl Harbor. Americans counter-attacked. War was on and that December 1941 the lyrics of White Christmas suddenly had a whole different meaning to the soldiers that left for war overseas and the families left behind:

“I’m dreaming of a white Christmas
Just like the ones I used to know”

That year, 1941, White Christmas was performed on the radio as early as October, by popular demand.

To honor the spirit of those left to war and who took strength from listening to his son, Berlin removed a few humorous verse:

“The sun is shining, the grass is green
The orange and palm trees sway
There’s never been such a day
In Beverly Hills, L. A.
But it’s December the 24th
And I am longing to be up north….”

In 1975, the final evacuation of Saigon was signaled by the song “White Christmas”

After almost twenty years of Vietnam War, Americans set their evacuation plan, needing to pull out 1000 Americans and 6ooo Vietnamese whose lives were at risk if left behind. The evacuation code was, read on Armed Force Radio: “The temperature in Saigon is 105 degrees and rising,”  followed by the playing of “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas.”

Here are Bing Crosby’s White Christmas lyrics:

“I’m dreaming of a white Christmas
Just like the ones I used to know
Where the treetops glisten and children listen
To hear sleigh bells in the snow.
I’m dreaming of a white Christmas
Just like the ones I used to know
Where the treetops glisten and children listen
To hear sleigh bells in the snow.
I’m dreaming of a white Christmas
With every Christmas card I write
May your days be merry and bright
And may all your Christmases be white.
I’m dreaming of a white Christmas,
Just like the ones I used to know
May your days be merry and bright
And may all your Christmases be white.
I’m dreaming of a white Christmas,
With every Christmas card I write
May your days be merry and bright
And may all your Christmases be white
May your days be merry and bright
And may all your Christmases be white.
And may all your Christmases be white (all your Christmases be white)
And may all your Christmases be white (all your Christmases be white)
And may all your Christmases be
(All your Christmases be white)
(All your Christmases be white)”

“White Christmas” lyrics and movie clip are property and copyright of their owners. “Holiday Inn” movie clip is provided for educational purposes and personal use only.

The #MusicMonday meme was created by Drew @ The Tattooed Book Geek. You can pick a song that you really like and share it on Monday. I thoroughly enjoyed this blog feature on Mischenko’s lovely blog, ReadRantRockandroll .

What are your thoughts on White Christmas? Have you watched it yet? If not, December is a good month to watch a romantic musical!

Let me know in comments below.


Movie Music Monday, Hanover Street, John Barry, Harrison Ford, Lesley-Anne Down via @PatFurstenberg #HanoverStreet #JohnBarry #HarrisonFord #WW2 #moviemusicmonday

Hanover Street poster-source imdb

Movie Music Monday, “Hanover Street”, music by John Barry, with Harrison Ford and Lesley-Anne Down via @PatFurstenberg #HanoverStreet #WW2 #moviemusicmonday

Hanover Street tells the story of a British nurse (Lesley-Ann Down) during WW2, married to a spy (Christopher Plummer) and falling in love with an American pilot (Harrison Ford). Perhaps this is one of the most fitting movies for a score by John Barry; heartfelt, sensitive and with a dash of melancholy, but also hope, just right for a war movie.

Hanover Street poster-source imdb
Hanover Street poster-source imdb

I guess John Barry’s style, never rushed, preparing the listener for what is to come, goes well with the 40’s war and love movie theme of Hanover Street.

Hanover Street was made almost 40 years ago; Harrison Ford was between shooting Star Wars movies, Lesley-Ann Down before North and South and Christopher Plummer somewhere between Jesus of Nazareth and The Thorn Birds.

Listen below to the main theme and the lovely intro that sets out the characters so well! I wish it was based on a book! Writer and director was Peter Hyams.

Here are some of my favorite quotes. I love British humor.

On English tea:

David Halloran: You people actually drink this stuff?
Margaret Sellinger: No we just like to put it in our cups and stare at it.
David Halloran: Tastes too much like, boiled water.
Margaret Sellinger: It is boiled water.
David Halloran: I knew there was a reason.

On fighting the war against the Germans:

2nd Lt. Jerry Cimino: Hey they’re shooting at us. How come every time we fly over they shoot guns at us?
David Halloran: Because we drop bombs on them.
2nd Lt. Jerry Cimino: They have no sense of humor. Can’t you guys take a joke?

Hanover Street Harrison Ford Christopher Plummer-source imdb
Hanover Street Harrison Ford Christopher Plummer-source imdb

On trying to prove to a French country woman, in the middle of World War Two, that you are actually an American soldier dressed in a German uniform for camouflage:

Paul Sellinger: C’est vrai. Je suis Anglais. Vraiment! Do you think you could give me a hand here? She’s going to kill me, she thinks I’m German.
David Halloran: I wonder why she thinks you’re German? Eh, Betty Grable. Hershey bars. Yankee Stadium. Hello, Joe.

You can’t love a WW2 airplane! Here is The Browning M2 Aircraft heavy machine gun that appears in the film as the primary armament of the B-25 Mitchell bomber flown by Lieutenant David Halloran (Harrison Ford)-source imfdb.org

Hanover Street-The Browning M2 Aircraft heavy machine gun appears in the film as the primary armament of the B-25 Mitchell bomber flown by Lieutenant David Halloran (Harrison Ford)-source imfdb.org

Harrison Fordm in the pilot seat of the B-25 Mitchell bomber. You can see the pilot’s and air-crew’s names written on the plane:

Hanover Street - The Browning M2 is seen mounted in the nose.source imfdb.org
Hanover Street – The Browning M2 machine gun is seen mounted in the nose.source imfdb.org

 

The North American B-25, first flown in August 1940. It was named after  General William Mitchell (1879-1936), who commanded U.S. air forces in Europe during the First World War.

North American B-25 Mitchell in flight-source aircraft-in-focus
North American B-25 Mitchell in flight-source aircraft-in-focus

“Hanover Street” quotes are property and copyright of their owners. “Hanover Street” movie clip is provided for educational purposes and personal use only.

The #MusicMonday meme was created by Drew @ The Tattooed Book Geek. You can pick a song that you really like and share it on Monday. I thoroughly enjoyed this blog feature on Mischenko’s lovely blog, ReadRantRockandroll .

What are your thoughts on Hanover Street? Have you watched it yet? If not, December is a good month to watch a romantic war movie with breathtaking music.

Let me know in comments below.