Hawks News

In the Nest and On the Road

Sen. Robert C. Byrd (Nov. 20, 1917 – June 28, 2010)

June 28, 2010 · 6 comments

We were very sorry to hear of Senator Byrd’s passing today. We send our condolences to his family, West Virginians, and all Americans who benefitted from his long service in Congress. The original inspiration for our song “Byrd from West Virginia” came in 2003 when Byrd was the sole voice in the Senate to stand up vigorously against the Iraq War, making the Constitutional argument we were longing to hear. After further researching his life, we learned about his darker periods: a relationship with the KKK, opposition to the Civil Rights movement, etc. We could not sweep these sins under the rug. The song recalls the tumultuous history of 20th century America: the Depression, WWII, the racial tension of the 60s, and the Kennedy assassination. The end of the story is one of redemption, as Byrd challenges the establishment of American hegemony and the Iraq War. Byrd’s story, like America’s, is long and complex. Farewell and good journey.

<a href="http://iseehawksinla.bandcamp.com/track/byrd-from-west-virginia">Byrd From West Virginia by I See Hawks in L.A.</a>

Byrd from West Virginia
Byrd from West Virginia
Byrd from West Virginia
Senator Byrd
Ooh

Born in Carolina to a family of miners
The flu of 1918 took his mother away
Couldn’t go to college it was the depths of the Depression
The valedictorian pumped gasoline instead

Ooohh

He found himself a sweetheart in Erma Ora James
The coal miner’s daughter with the odd middle name
he labored in the shipyards during World War II
Welding Liberties and Victories for me and for you

Byrd from West Virginia
Byrd from West Virginia
Byrd from West Virginia
Senator Byrd
Ooh

He burned the cross of Jesus in the West Virginia night
The darkness of America blinded his sight
Baptized in the blood of our national sin
The Ghosts of the Conquest rise again and again

ooohh

As a young man in Congress he studied law at night
For ten long years, he burned a different light
Presented with his J.D. by John Fitzgerald Kennedy
just before the young president was escorted into history

Byrd from West Virginia
Byrd from West Virginia
Byrd from West Virginia
Senator Byrd
Ooh

Fifty years in Washington just passed before his eyes
The building of the empire, its burdens and delights
Did the suffering of the world or the folly of the day
Change a stubborn old heart to see a better way?

oohh

And when a reckless new President came calling for war
Old Bird from West Virginia
Sang out the score:

“The doctrine of pre-emption is radical and deadly”

Who will sing the song when the bird flies away
Vanished o’er the hillside at the end of the day

Byrd from West Virginia
Byrd from West Virginia
Byrd from West Virginia
Senator Byrd
Ooh

A lone voice a cryin
A lone voice a cryin
A lone voice a cryin
Senator Byrd
Ooh
Senator Byrd

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Robert June 28, 2010 at 10:26 am

One of my favorite Hawks song. Been playing it this morning in honor of the late Senator (not that I need an excuse.)

Robert
Boise, ID

Peter June 28, 2010 at 10:35 am

A fitting tribute to a complex man and a giant of the Senate. Great show last night at Rancho Nicasio.

Brian June 28, 2010 at 3:54 pm

I remember the first time I heard you guys play this live. I was blown away then and it still floors me today.

Uhura June 28, 2010 at 9:02 pm

An amazing song and powerful tribute to one of our finest. I hope you play this song live in Seattle tomorrow night!

lorna sloan June 29, 2010 at 2:19 pm

Dear Hawks,

What a joy to have you young men here in Newman at the West Side Theatre last Saturday night, to share supper and see you again for brunch! Just listened to “Shoulda Been” and the tribute to Senator Byrd. He loved poetry. Timely listening.

We love you in Newman and hope you can stop in on your way home south on the 4th/5th Sistas Lorna & Farris

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