The Day the Dream Died

Music copyright © 1971 by Don McLean
Words Creative Commons License 2003 by Jim Bearden

On March 18, 2003, our appointed acting President (as writer and cartoonist Ted Rall refers to him) appeared on television to announce that the U.S. military would soon be attacking a country – Iraq — which had not attacked the U.S., and as we now know, posed no real threat either to us or to its neighbors. In spite of my knowledge of many previous examples of our country’s falling far short of the ideals expressed in documents such as the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution — everything from killing Native Americans to making war on Vietnam — this seemed to me somehow even worse than the other actions, possibly because it was such a naked act of aggression, with very little pretense of justification. The allegations used to “sell” this war — “weapons of mass destruction”, attempts to get nuclear materials, ties to Al Qaeda — have all turned out to be lies, as many of us recognized at the time. A few days after seeing the “shock and awe” campaign (and how many civilians did that one kill, Mr. Rumsfeld?), I was listening to Garth Brooks’ version of “American Pie” — which I’ve always thought of as “The Day the Music Died,” since that’s really the title line — and started to hear some things that could be applied to the whole sorry situation in Iraq. This is what eventually came out of those thoughts.

Verse 1:
Long, long time ago,
I can still remember how this country had a dream;
And we thought this was a special place,
That could do some good for the human race;
There was still hope for the future — or so it seemed.
But that “March madness” made me shiver,
With every word I heard delivered;
Bad news on my TV screen —
I couldn’t believe what I’d seen.
I could have just sat down and cried,
When I heard that arrogance and pride,
‘Cause something touched me deep inside
The day that our dream died.
So…

Chorus:
Bye, bye, to our American sky;
Where our dream once soared, but now that eagle won’t fly;
And those who really love this country are ready to cry,
Singing, this could be the day the dream died;
This could be the day the dream died.

Verse 2:
Did you read the Declaration?
Do you know what really started this nation?
The ideals on which we’d all begun.
And do you believe in the Bill of Rights?
And that being right takes more than might?
And that that’s a battle you’ll never win with a gun.
When I saw him on those steps of stone,
Among that crowd, he stood alone;
He gave us all a theme,
When he said, “I have a dream!”
And we all thought we’d see the day
When the world would find a better way,
Until that day we went astray–
The day that our dream died.
We were singing…

Chorus

Verse 3:
Some of us have been there before,
Fighting against another war;
We’ve been tempered in that forge.
So come on, George I, and now George II,
Bring on the worst that you can do,
And we’ll take on “the madness of King George.”
And as we watched your “shock and awe,”
The whole world saw your fatal flaw:
Only a Satan’s spell
Could inflict that kind of hell.
And as the flames climbed high into the night,
Just like a sacrificial rite,
I saw Satan laughing with delight,
The day that our dream died.
We were singing…

Chorus

Verse 4:
Now the whole world has come out to say:
“There’s got to be a better way.”
But our government just turned away.
And I went down to those sacred steps,
Where once I’d heard that dream expressed,
But they said, “That’s just a dream from another day.”
And in the streets the people cried,
For all the innocents who’d died;
But the only word from On High
Was to send more out to die.
And the three ideas I thought were best —
Life. liberty, and happiness —
Lay crushed beneath that awful mess,
The day that our dream died.
So…

Chorus

End:
Let’s start singing…
Bye, bye, to those who want us to die;
Time to take our country back, from the sea to the sky;
Time to show that our ideals are still flying high;
Singing: We won’t let that dream die —
This won’t be the day the dream dies.

Come on everybody, let’s start singing…
Bye, bye, to those who want us to die;
Time to take our country back, from the sea to the sky;
Time to show that our ideals are still flying high;
Singing: This won’t be the day the dream dies.

 

Contact me about this song: