His mama was a midnight woman His daddy was a drifter drummer One night they put it together Nine months later came the little black bummer He was a laid back lump in the cradle Chewing the paint chips that fell from the ceiling Whenever he cried he got a fist in his face So he learned not to show his feelings He was a pig-tail puller in grammer school Left back twice by the seventh grade Sniffing glue in Junior High And the first one in school to get laid He was a weed-speed pusher at fifteen He was mainlining skag a year later He'd started pimping when they put him away In jail he changed from a junkie to a hater And just like the man from the precinct said: "Put him away, you better kill him instead. A bummer like that is better of dead Someday they're gonna have to put a bullet in his head." They threw him back on the street, he robbed an A & P He didn't blink at the buddy that he shafted And just about the time they would have caught him too He had the damn good fortune to get drafted He was A-One bait for Vietnam, you see they needed more bodies in a hurry He was a cinch to train cause all they had to do Was to figure how to funnel his fury They put him in a tank near the D M Z To catch the gooks slipping over the border They said his mission was to Search and Destroy And for once he followed and order One sweat-soaked day in the Yung-Po Valley With the ground still steaming from the rain There was a bloody little battle that didn't mean nothing Except to the few that remained You see a couple hundred slants had trapped the other five tanks And had started to pick off the crews When he came on the scene and it really did seem This is why he'd paid those dues It was something like a butcher going berserk Or a sane man acting like a fool Or the bravest thing that a man had ever done Or a madman blowing his cool Well he came on through like a knife through butter Or a scythe sweeping through the grass Or to say it like the man would have said it himself: "Just a big black bastard kicking ass!" And just like the man from the precinct said: "Put him away, you better kill him instead. A bummer like that is better of dead Someday they're gonna have to put a bullet in his head." When it was over and the smoke had cleared There were a lot of VC bodies in the mud And when the rescue men came over for the very first time They found him smiling as he lay in his blood They picked up the pieces and they stitched him back together He pulled through though they thought he was a goner And he forced them to give him what they said they would Six purple hearts and the Medal of Honor Of course he slouched as the chief white honkey said: "Service beyond the call of duty" But the first soft thought was passing through his mind "My medal is a Mother of a beauty!" He got a couple of jobs with the ribbon on his chest And though he tried he really couldn't do 'em There was only a couple of things that he was really trained for And he found himself drifting back to 'em Just about the time he was ready to break The V A stopped sending him his checks Just a matter of time 'cause there wasn't no doubt About what he was gonna to do next It ended up one night in a grocery store Gun in hand and nine cops at the door And when his last battle was over He lay crumpled and broken on the floor And just like the man from the precinct said: "Put him away, you better kill him instead. A bummer like that is better of dead Someday they're gonna have to put a bullet in his head." Well he'd breathed his last, but ten minutes past Before they dared to enter the place And when they flipped his riddled body over they found His second smile frozen on his face They found his gun where he'd thrown it There was something else clenched in his fist And when they pried his fingers open they found the Medal of Honor And the Sergeant said: "Where in the hell he get this?" There was a stew about burying him in Arlington So they shipped him in box to Fayette And they stashed him in a grave in a county plot The kind we remember to forget And just like the man from the precinct said: "Put him away, you better kill him instead. A bummer like that is better of dead Someday they're gonna have to put a bullet in his head."
Written by: HARRY F. CHAPIN
Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.
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