Safe Behind the Wire

Vagabond Crew, John Schumann

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John Schumann

John Lewis Schumann (born May 1953) is an Australian singer, songwriter and guitarist from Adelaide. He is best known as the lead singer for the folk group Redgum, with their chart-topping hit "I Was Only 19 (A Walk in the Light Green)", a song exploring the psychological and medical side-effects of serving in the Australian forces during the Vietnam War. The song's sales assisted Vietnam Veterans during the 1983 Royal Commission into the effects of Agent Orange and other chemical defoliants employed during the war. Schumann was an Australian Democrats candidate in the 1998 Federal election, narrowly failing to unseat Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer for the Division of Mayo. more »


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When the bodies were bagged and the telegrams sent
And the very last chopper had goneâ?¦
And you looked out the window of the 707 on the airfield in Saigonâ?¦
Some of us thought that the war was over, some of us couldn't care less;
But you came home and threw a stay-behind party to try to clear up the mess.

And I don't know where you are tonight,
I'm down here in a fire-fightâ?¦
But wherever you are, I hope you're safe behind the wire.

We were fighting for freedom in South East Asia - that's how the story ranâ?¦
Windy speeches about a domino falling from China into Vietnam.
But look back in sickness and anger,
Australia didn't honour her debt;
And non-commissioned Officer Thompson learned that the war wasn't over yet.

Living on your nerves, living on the phone 
Sleeping in airports far from homeâ?¦
Dusted off now and safe behind the wire.

Well, he gave and he gave and he kept on giving, till he just couldn't give anymore;
And he gave it away one morning in Sydney in a rust-red Commodoreâ?¦
And I remember Phill best talking on the phone,
With a cheeky grin on his face
'Cause Royal Commissioners and Knights of the Realm
Thought that Phill didn't know his place.

And they're still bagging bodies, Phill, though fourteen years have gone;
And the mums and the dads and the wives and the kids still have to soldier on.

 Watch: New Singing Lesson Videos Can Make Anyone A Great Singer



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