Can This Song Prove Our Human "Differences" Are Manufactured?

Late December 1914, World War I was taking lives by the tens of thousands. It was, after all, war and that's what young people of all nations are trained to do when governments decide to settle differences they deem diplomacy cannot. However, Christmas time on the Western Front in Belgium, groups of German and British soldiers had other, more natural and humane ideas they wanted to pursue.

Leading up to Christmas and particularly on Christmas Eve, soldiers on both sides of the war decided they were not going to fire on one another and emerged from their respective trenches with songs and gifts for their enemy. This was an unofficial truce, (leaders on both sides were furious when they found out what was going on) created in random fields and trenches on either side of "No Man's Land" by men who were cold, miserable and tired of watching their friends and countrymen die.It's even been said that after meeting, talking and singing with each other during that Christmas truce, they refused to fire on their new "friends" and large scale fighting did not continue until these particular soldiers were replaced by reinforcements who weren't there during the truce.

This is a glaring example of how people, regardless of nation, race, color, creed, gender, political affiliation, societal placement or any other "defining" characteristic, all have one one thing in common which rises above all else...we're human. Often complicated and sometimes irrational, the human race does have the overwhelming ability to empathize, love and care for fellow human beings. The truce described earlier magnifies this a thousand times over.

The connection music creates within people is one of the oldest and most undeniable connections we can experience. It's been that way from the dawn of time, through world wars (note the soldiers singing Christmas songs together instead of killing each other) and continues to the present day. Music will continue to connect people long after anyone reading this has gone.

Adam Silvestri, singer/songwriter residing in Brooklyn, NY by way of Boston, MA and creator of the Radiator King project has written a song which uses the facts and circumstances from the Christmas Truce as a road map to explaining how people, even in the worst of times are more prone to love than hate. Our differences are indeed manufactured.

The song "Christmas Eve" (off of Radiator King's most recent LP, A Hollow Triumph After All), both musically and lyrically tell the story of this ominous yet hopeful tale. As Adam wails through the chorus "It's Christmas time, I'll walk the mile out to the borderline. No man's land is a place we can all stand on" you're literally brought onto the battle field as a soldier from either side as you know that the mile journey you're on will bring hope and friendship, not death. 

Fleeting as the hopefulness was, these men needed the sane and instinctual approach of befriending the "enemy" rather than cause or witness more killing. Silvestri captures the essence of that when he switches up the chorus a bit to "It's Christmas time. Say a prayer for me Ma but don't you cry. No man's land is a place we can all stand on", as if the soldier wants his mother to know that even though he'll likely be killed at some point during the war, he was able to enjoy and find some peace for Christmas and hopefully that would ease some of her pain.

Songs can and usually do, make all of those listening to them think and feel while exploring something inside which tends to lead towards a better place. We, at our core, want happiness and friendship. We want companionship and love. Hate, stress and picking sides takes too much energy and never lifts anyone's spirit. "Christmas Eve" by Radiator King proves this. It proves we're designed to choose happiness and life over sadness and death. We're all just looking for our own personal "No Man's Land" where we cam all stand on.

Christmas Eve

No one was there to receive me
kicking at heaven’s backdoor
So i made my way
back to the front lines of the war

On my way back down to the rubble
All around me vultures sang
I got this dog named Tex
that hasn’t left my side in days

I came to a camp by a clearing
Where men of sickness sang
a song from the books of the late Iron Age

the rain in Bruges kept falling
the cranes of Ghent were swinging round
the Flying Circus scattered all the village to the ground
the sparrow flies blind
the sparrow flies blind

It’s Christmas time
I’ll walk the mile out to the borderline
No man’s land is a place we can all stand on

Andy knew this girl from Edinburgh
the poor boy fell for her like a stone
She waved her scarf in the air
the day his London bus left home

I was hanging down round the pulpit
the day his Dear John letter came
Andy walked off into the end of the night in the rain
the sparrow flies blind
the sparrow flies blind

It’s Christmas time
I’ll walk the mile out to the borderline
No man’s land is a place we can all stand on

Candles lined the trenches
as far as the eye could see
The air was dry and the mist was slow to leave

Captain Holt come quickly
our men have joined the enemy
Kicking a bully beef tin all around no man’s land
What side are you on?
Boys what side are you on?

It’s Christmas time
I’ll walk the mile out to the borderline
No man’s land is a place we can all stand on
It’s Christmas time
Say a prayer for me Ma,
but don’t you cry
No man’s land is a place we can all stand on

 

 Hear the song here


Leave a comment