Song for Chelsea Manning

Private Manning was an analyst if what they say is true
She was paid to read reports and find the patterns sifting through
As she read the data the patterns did emerge
Patterns that were clear both before and since the Surge
Patterns of abuse of the most horrific kind
Gunning down civilians out of view and out of mind
Gunning down the opposition in the middle of the night
Sending off the scholars to be tortured out of sight
Sometimes you need desperate measures when you live in desperate times
Private Manning saw she was looking at war crimes
She wondered what to do to allow the dead to speak
She finally decided to contact Wikileaks

Now it’s all out on the table and everybody knows
The emperor is naked, he’s not wearing any clothes

Now Adrian Lamo has to live within his skin
He stabbed Chelsea in the back, called the cops and turned her in
But not before the soldier took half a million files
If you printed all the pages they’d stretch on for miles
Evidence against the state right from the horse’s mouth
Machinations in the west, bombings in the south
A treasure trove of details for all the globe to see
How much they need to lie and kill for democracy
How many drone strikes have hit villages leaving everyone to die
They blamed on someone else – the official line, “Not I”
How many coups have been plotted by ambassadors who say
That free and fair elections be the order of the day


Now the Genie’s out of the bottle and they’re trying to stuff it back
And stop it from illuminating everything we lack
Such as the rule of law or playing by the book
Look you can read it, it’s right here, the ship of state is run by crooks
And they vilify the messengers, call them every name
For daring to blow the whistle on the nature of their game
The game of taking lives and endangering the rest
In order for the wealthy few to do what they do best
Dominate the world for the corporate elite
But now their cover’s blown from their head down to their feet
And now the stars and stripes is looking much more like a rag
The lid is off the box, the cat’s out of the bag


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Sheet music:
Song for Chelsea Manning

“Song for Chelsea Manning” was originally “Song for Bradley Manning,” and appeared as such on the 2011 CD, Big Red Sessions.  The song was re-recorded for the 2015 printing of Big Red Sessions and for the Bandcamp album in order to reflect Private Manning’s change of name and gender.

Chelsea Manning is a heroine of mine and many others, a woman who blew the whistle on US war crimes in Iraq by leaking loads of information about said war crimes to Wikileaks, while working at a military base in Baghdad.  Unfortunately, she got caught and is now serving a 35-year prison sentence in draconian conditions.

I wrote “Song for Bradley Manning” in early 2011, and it was the first time I recorded a song with my phone and put it up as an “iPhone Broadside” on YouTube.  It was viewed many thousands of times within a few days, and was thus one of a few songs I’ve put up as a broadside that “went viral.”  It then became the basis for my first attempt to raise funds to record a CD — which was a successful crowdfunding campaign (which I did using Paypal and my blog, no crowdfunding websites for this one).  This song later appeared on a fundraising CD for Wikileaks (and resulted in me getting a nice phone call from Julian Assange one day).