UNIVERSAL SOLDIER (annotated lyrics)
Words and music Buffy Sainte-Marie
© Caleb Music

He’s five foot two and he’s six foot four

These were the height parameters for soldiers in 1961

He fights with missiles and with spears

In both the future and the past, soldiers are soldiers: only the equipment varies

He’s all of 31 and he’s only 17

Age parameters during the 1960s

He’s been a soldier for a thousand years

This is not some new high tech phenomenon

He’s a Catholic, a Hindu, an atheist a Jain,
A Buddhist, and a Baptist and a Jew

Soldiers are found even among people who are “religious” and are not confined to just one religion

And he knows he shouldn’t kill and he knows he always will

Even though his religion forbids it, he chooses to be a killer

Kill you for me, my friend, and me for you

Whichever side he’s on, it’s still absurd

He’s fighting for Canada. He’s fighting for France. He’s fighting for the USA
and he’s fighting for the Russians and he’s fighting for Japan

He’s not just from some far away enemy country but from “our” country too

And he thinks he’ll put an end to war this way

He hasn’t thought it through from a logical, long range point of view

He’s fighting for democracy, he’s fighting for the Reds

He’s on “our side” as well as “their side”

He’s says it’s for the peace of all

He’s believes in the absurdity of violence as an act of peace

He’s the one who must decide who’s to live and who’s to die

He has a responsibility he’s been trained to overlook

And he never sees the writing on the wall

He learns nothing from history so can’t predict obvious outcomes of repeating it

But without him how would Hitler have condemned him at Dachau

Human beings allow other human beings to commit genocide

Without him Caesar would have stood alone.

We can’t blame just the leaders

He’s the one who gives his body as a weapon to a war

Each individual has a choice

And without him all this killing can’t go on

No individual soldiers = no war

He’s the universal soldier and he is really is to blame

Some responsibility is upon each soldier

But his orders come from far away no more

The Nazis claimed they were innocent because their orders came from” far away” superiors but that’s not true here and now in our modern democracies

They come from him and you and me

We are each responsible – civilians, mothers and sweethearts – so long as we tolerate it

and Brothers, can’t you see this is not the way to put an end to war?

This last line is put not as scolding someone else but as a question to someone you love. Note that the music ends on an unresolved chord.



Vietnam soldier’s grafitti, mis-identified by Smithsonian Magazine as a “mystery poem”, turns out actually to be from Buffy Sainte-Marie’s song Universal Soldier.

In 1967, a young G.I. was lying on his bunk on a troop carrier headed to Vietnam. On the canvas bottom of the bunk above him, he carefully wrote a few lines of free verse in Morse code. That piece of canvas was donated along with a few others to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., where a historian was studying wartime graffiti.

You’re the one who must decide
Who’s to live and who’s to die
You’re the one who gives his body
As a weapon of the war – And without you all this killing can’t go on.

The historian published the “mystery poem” in the Smithsonian magazine. It prompted hundreds of letters, more than any other the editors had received on any other article. They were mostly from Vietnam vets. Some were scolding. Every one pointed out that the mystery poem was actually an extract from Buffy Sainte-Marie’s classic song, Universal Soldier.

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Canada’s Walk of Fame introduces a four-day festival of music, comedy and film, featuring some of Canada’s most iconic performers. Headlining the weekend’s festivities are internationally acclaimed artists Buffy Sainte-Marie, Burton Cummings, and Paul Anka. In total, the festival will announce over 50 performances including a spotlight on 26 emerging artists. The festival will be held at select locations in Toronto October 14 – 17 (catch Buffy on Saturday, October 16 at the Elgin Theatre). Tickets on sale now!

http://www.canadaswalkoffame.com/

This album is a digitally re-mastered version of three albums: “Buffy,” “Changing Woman” and “Sweet America” on the Gypsy Boy Music label, distributed by Appleseed Records in the U.S., and EMI in Canada. These songs, written in the 1970s and new to most Buffy fans, fit right in with both her classics and more recent songs. Look forward to hearing them live this fall. Tour response to her song Generation live in concert across Canada has been incredible.


Interview with The Yellowknifer newspaper

Yellowknifer: How do you feel about your long-celebrated repertoire from the 1960s and 1970s – have you tired of performing your oldest songs live or does it still excite you to perform the classics?

Buffy Sainte-Marie: If I get tired of a song, I don’t do it until I’m hot for it again. The nicest thing that can happen to a classic song is when a new band falls in love with it – it’s like a musical aphrodisiac every time – and good songs remain good songs.

The best thing about the re-release of The Pathfinder: Buried Treasures mid-70s collections is the songs! Of course some of the arrangements sound kinda dated now, and recording techniques are different; but underneath all that, the songs are really strong. Some of them were too early (environmental greed, women’s perspectives) but now people get it. There are all kinds of surprises for people who lost track of me in 1967 – pounding rockers and environmental protests and some totally intimate love songs that most people wouldn’t guess are mine.

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Check out Buffy at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, documentary footage, EPK video, and more in the online VIDEO GALLERY!

Music video for Fallen Angels is online!

What a great weekend! Buffy was in Hamilton, Ontario and on-hand to accept four awards from Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards for her album, Running for the Drum.

Buffy recieved: best female artist, best album, best single for “No No Keshagesh” and best songwriter. What a spectacular way to wrap up November. Who knows what December will bring?

Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
[Excerpt] …It’s that humanitarian streak sitting astride her music which has always won her the affection of audiences since hitting the scene in 1962. Now, 47 years later, she’s every bit as much in her powers as in that halcyon and turbulent era. Backed by a crackerjack outfit—and even Taj Mahal on one track—she serves up a dozen excellent tracks, a few of which will definitely see coverage well into the future, especially Too Much is Never Enough, an extremely catchy ditty. A gratifying fusion of Native rhythms and philosophy pervade much of this CD, and they’re a very welcome element, a whole dimension of something scamped by modern rockers, folkers, and jazz musicians even though the sonorities preceded all other arts on this continent…
Read complete acousticmusic.com review »

Slant Magazine
On her first album in 13 years, folk icon and Native American activist Buffy Sainte-Marie comes out swinging. She takes on corporate greed over the furious tribal beat of “No No Keshagesh” and makes effective use of audio samples of pow-wows on both the blistering “Working for the Government” and the dance-floor-ready “Cho Cho Fire.” With those three cuts followed by a gorgeous, lilting reworking of her own “Little Wheel Spin and Spin,” Running for the Drum boasts a simply phenomenal opening sequence. Those songs speak to the depth of Sainte-Marie’s focused folk-singer outrage and her still-razor-sharp ear for a memorable pop hook.

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The Wire magazine
Illumnations: One the “100 Albums That Set the World on Fire”

Richard Marcus
Published online September 16, 2007
Buffy Sainte-Marie (CD review Vanguard Records)

Who is the only Native American/Canadian to win an Academy Award Oscar?

Buffy Sainte-Marie was an Indian before it became fashionable to be one and sang about Native issues when nobody else did. She also wrote and performed songs about the state of the world, and people’s sweetest emotions. This record serves to remind us all of her unique voice and unwavering strength of character.

But it’s not just vocally and lyrically that makes her so distinctive. Think about other single female folk acts that you know of from that era and what comes to mind? Simple melodies plucked out on a guitar and basic arrangements about as threatening as the flowers they wore in their hair. At the same time, Buffy was using electronics and overdubs to stretch and distort her voice in the harmonies on songs like God Is Alive, Magic Is Afoot, and The Vampire in 1965!

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Toronto Star – Lenny Stoute, Special to the Star
BUFFY’S BACK WITH THE FIRST ALBUM IN 15 YEARS
“…the truly babe-acious”

She walks into the room and the distinct society thing takes a hike in the presence of the truly babe-acious. Buffy Sainte-Marie’s had lots of practice at handling compliments graciously. She laughs hugely and turns the talk to the merits of the space-age fabric that clings to her body like life itself.

Coincidence and Likely Stories offers up shrewed and insightful chronicles of what’s going down, steeped in lovejuice and wrapped warm with womanly empathy. The music’s well up to date, Buffy being no slouch when it comes to composing with the Apple Mac, … and being relevant as she is, this is a piece of work that’ll hold its own in the commercial arena.

And nobody wears it better.

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