There were millions of bombs falling from the sky
There were children looking up being they’d die
There were millions of people marching in the street
Hoping that their country would meet defeat
There were military contracts, lots of dollars to be made
Selling heroin and fighter jets in the arms trade
There were millions of soldiers refusing to kill
There were others taking orders directly from the Hill
Like the ones who were sent off to turn the campus red
Who were sent to kill the students dead

There were governors talking about military rule
If they want a bloodbath, let’s bring one to their school
If they want a bloodbath — this was the very phrase
That’s the language that the governors were using those days
That’s the way they thought and that’s exactly what they did
There were politicians talking about gunning down kids
They said the students were worse than the Nazis in the war
A quote from the governor just a few days before
The Guard was sent in to turn the campus red
They were sent to kill the students dead

There was a sniper on the rooftop, ready to conspire
There were the National Guardsmen with the orders to fire
They all lined up – ready, aim, shoot
There was President Nixon in a three-piece suit
He brought the war home like he said he would
There was an entire generation who understood
There were soldiers lined up a hundred meters away
A bullet in the back is the price you gotta pay
When the Guard is sent in to turn the campus red
Sent to kill the students dead

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“Dead” originally appeared on the Bandcamp album, All the News That’s Fit to Sing, 2014.

On May 4th, 1970, the Ohio National Guard opened fire on antiwar protesters at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio. Prior to the massacre, the governor of Ohio had denounced the protesters as worse than Nazis. Governor Ronald Reagan of California had said if they wanted a bloodbath, they should be given one. Four young people were killed, and others permanently maimed. One of those killed was named Allison Krause. Her sister, Laurel Krause, is actively involved with bringing attention to this atrocity. Recent revelations point to the involvement of a sniper at both the Kent State and Jackson State massacres.

I saw Laurel Krause near her home in California before she went to Geneva, Switzerland to testify at a United Nations event there, and I wrote this song.