Richard and Mimi Farina – The Bold Marauders – Singing Songs of Blood to Resist War

There is a strange feeling that accompanies this song, a feeling that should linger especially longer with those listeners who call themselves Americans or Europeans.

Not a feeling of guilt, but a strange feeling… that strange feeling you get when you discover that that ugly portrait you painted is actually a self-portrait… that strange feeling you get when you learn that that disgusting image you wanted to avert your eyes from was actually your reflection…

“The Bold Marauder” is the creation of American folk singer-songwriter Richard Farina, he and his wifetumblr_lt6j11DyXw1qg03pro1_500 Mimi Farina (sister of the legendary Joan Baez) were among some of the most talented but under-acknowledged musicians of the 1960s folk revival movement.

Now the song the “The Bold Marauder” is generally said to be about the Crusades, the period of time when Catholic European nations banded together to overtake lands in the predominantly Muslim Levant….but in the context of the Vietnam War the song demands a closer examination.

As Americans we are generally encouraged to forget that there is still an ongoing American/NATO military occupation of Afghanistan that’s not too different in nature from the occupational tactics used by the Americans during the Vietnam War, nor is the mentality behind it too different from the Europeans during the Crusades. We’ve been taught that our soldiers are noble and the only real references to the war are generally limited to “supporting our troops” and marveling at the savagery of our “enemies” while turning our heads gracefully away from the violence committed in the name of our freedom…  We’ve been conditioned to accept this violence we create and spread so well that not even the slightest feeling can emerge. And everything is normal.

That’s why Farina’s words here are magic, restoring to us a vision we long pretended was impossible for us to possess, he gives us back the power to view ourselves as we are in the eyes of “the others,” in the eyes of the occupied.

I first listened to this song in high school, I could not place why I was both attracted to it and it repulsed by it… interestingly enough as a young black teenager my frame of reference was limited but I still understood it. For me the song recalled nothing about the Crusades or even the beginning wars in Iraq or Afghanistan and everything about the other hooded crusaders draped as white destroyers in the prairies and fields of the Americans south…  I could understand it then in my own context as I’m sure many others can in theirs.

Songs in praise of murder like “the Bold Marauder” act as stronger expressions of protest to war than the usual “peace” chants that we are accustomed to. Songs in praise of murder condemn us to see ourselves as we really are and propel us into the most beautiful crisis of consciousness leaving us no choice but to accept our positions as murderers… or to change.

And Farina’s brilliant song echoes the words of another great American writer, Mark Twain, and his anti-war piece “The War Prayer” reminding us that although Americans and our government have long pursued imperial endeavors there remains among us a few voices that are unafraid to sing the songs of War as they really should be sung.

Below is the video and the lyrics:

Well it’s Hi, Ho, Hey…
I am a bold marauder.
And it’s i, Ho, Hey…
I am a white destroyer.

For I will show you silver and gold
and I will bring you treasure.
I will wave a widowing Flag and
I will be your lover.

And I will show you grotto and cave
and sacrificial alter.
And I will show you blood on the stone.
And I will be your mentor.
And night will be our Darlin’
And Fear will be our name.

And it’s i, Ho, Hey…
I am a bold maruder.
And it’s i, Ho, Hey…
I am a white destroyer.

For I will lead you out by the hand
and lead you to the Hunter.
And I will show you thunder and steel
and I will be your teacher.

And we will dress in helmet and sword
and dip our tongues in slaughter.
And we will sing the Warrior’s Song
and lift the praise of murder.
And Christ will be our Darlin’
and Fear will be our name.

And it’s i, Ho, Hey…
I am a bold maruder.
And it’s i, Ho, Hey…
I am a white destroyer.

For I will sour the winds on high
and I will soil the rivers.
And I will burn the grain in the fields
and I will be your mother.
And we will go to ravage and kill
and we show go to plunder.
And I will take a Fury to wife
and I will be your father.
And death will be our Darlin’
and Fear will be our name.

More -> Reno Nevada

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YiYTDqoO3TQ

4 comments
  1. I’ve been fascinated by this song for some months now – discovering it in a cover version sung by Kendra Smith. To me it had a gothic, medieval, almost pagan feel to it. It was excellent to find and read your own well-written and articulate interpretation, which definitely broadens my perspective.

  2. Well said! Thank you for this accurate analysis of why this song is so disturbing!

  3. Claire Jordan said:

    The US forces behaved very clumsily in Aghanistan because of their ingrained them-and-us mentality, trigger-happy idiocy and terror of difference, but if you think they behaved like the Crusaders you have no idea what the Crusaders were like. It’s ISIS and to a lesser extent the Taliban with their wholesale slaughter of “heretics” who are the modern Crusaders (understandably, since Islam is now the same age Christianity was at the time of the Crusades), and not intervening in Afghanistan would have meant abandoning the ordinary Afghanis, especially the women, to a murdeorus Crusader-type regime. To fail to help somebody who is being murdered for belonging to the wrong sect or for being female and wanting to go to school, in order to preserve your sense of your own lily-white purity, is selfishness, not morality.

  4. Sandra parker said:

    I first heard this song sung by Sharon Knight and I just now took time to look into who wrote it. I thought it was written recently and was amazed to find out it was written in the 60’s. It is dark and mesmerizing and my first thoughts were of the crusades, but now I understand that this song and the uncomfortable way it makes you feel forces us to look at the side of war and violence against other races and cultures we would prefer not to think of. As long as we feel our side is right, we will be righteous. We feel justified to be this ” bold marauder”. Much death and destruction has been brought in the name of religion. We could say and “religion” will be our darling. . . . give peace a chance? That would be a miracle!

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