This American protest singer provided what has been described as the first song to satirize the draft for the Vietnam War, back in 1965. The narrator is ready to go fight, except for his long, long list of maladies and conditions that would otherwise exclude him from service.
The term ‘draft,’ also known as conscription, means being called upon for compulsory military service. Countries have needed ways to get soldiers, but in the 1960s, many people felt themselves to be ‘conscientious objectors,’ as part of the anti-Vietnam war movement.
Things could be better, folkie Phil Ochs notes in this 1964 protest song. After citing what’s great about the USA, he lets us know that not all are free if poor, and that some detract from the majesty of the land by spreading their fear, hate and even treason.
Now, let’s acknowledge from the lyrics that some are padlocked in prison for committing crimes against others, but the rest of the song is a Woody Guthrie-styled critique of the American dream. The equality of opportunity for all to succeed may be hampered through the actions of others. We can note the singer still loves his country and finds within it the structure for improvement and betterment. Sadly, Ochs took his own life in 1976.