Doc Mills

From the North

In an hour we will all taste the thunder...

Our biographies are written in the language of struggle. If we are fortunate, we know when the struggles are coming, and we perceive challenges that must be overcome. Other times, the struggle catches us by surprise. Regardless, sometimes we fail. And, sometimes the failure is total. And most of us live with the terror of that. 

I wrote "Before the War" to offer four short stories of struggle. I first played this song in a coffee house in Montclair, New Jersey, to about five people. Afterward, a guy in the audience asked me, "which one of those stories is yours?" And I told him the truth: "All of them." 


before the war

Last night I saw a man on the corner
Cardboard sign held against his coat
I asked him how it was he came to be there
If that sign's the only thing he ever wrote
He said when you've lost everything that I have
You will question what your struggle is for
'Cause every revolution kills its fathers
I wish I'd known that before the war

On the mantle is a picture of a family
Carefully posed to sell the world a lie
But the people in the image they are tired
And they want to slip away with no goodbye
She packs a bag, he knows where she is going
She smiles as she's walking out the door
Says you should find something that makes you happy
Let's enjoy the days before the war

In the bar around the corner last Friday
I saw a man he was sitting there alone
In his shaky hands he rolled an empty glass round
Kept staring at his dark and silent phone
Then he caught me contemplating what he's after
And he asked for another long pour
He said man I hope you get where you're going
I think I had it all before the war

In the mountains of a far-off foreign nation   
That they never had to think about about before
There sit two young sons of the Republic
Looking down their sights at what's in store
Then down the line comes the lieutenant
Says for honor and the glory of the Corps
In an hour we will all taste the thunder
This is the silence before the war