Thomas Richard “Tom” Paxton is one of the most famous american folk singer and songwriter. Paxton’s songs can be emotionally affective and cover a wide range of topics, from the serious and profound to the lighthearted and comical, at the same time.
The one we would like to present to you is called “Buy a Gun for your Son“, published in 1965 in the Ain’t That News album, here performed live on Pete Seeger’s “Rainbow Quest” NYC PBS TV Show in 1965.
As Paxton himshelf stated introducting his song:
It’s one thing for kids to go around using their finger and ‘bang bang bang’ and another thing for toy manufacturers to supply them with detailed gear and equipment…
The lyrics are quite satirical and address two (linked) issues: child’s education and guns in American culture.
Back in the year when Malcolm X was shot dead, Martin Luther King was arrested in Selma and U.S. combat troops began arriving in Vietnam, Paxton sang out against guns as toys and the effects they can have not only under a pedagogic point of view, but also on effective peace practices: is giving children war toys a way to prepare them for (real) war?
Hallelujah, Dads and Mommies,
Cowboys, Rebels, Yanks and Commies
Buy yourselves some real red blooded fun.
If you want to make the grade,
You’ve got to have a hand grenade,
And a fully automatic G.I. Gun.
Buy a gun for your son right away, Sir
Shake his hand like a man and let him play, Sir.
Let his little mind expand, Place a weapon in his hand,
For the skills he learns today will someday pay, Sir.
Pound that kid into submission
‘Till he’s mastered Nuclear Fission
Buy him plastic warheads by the score,
Once he’s got the taste of blood,
He’s gonna sneak up on his buddies
Starting his own thermo-nuclear war.
Buy him khakis and fatigues,
And sign him up in little leagues,
Give him calisthenics as a rule.
Once you’ve banished fear and dread,
Then pat his seven year-old head,
And send him off to military school.
Once he’s grown to be a man,
He might get tired of blasting Granny,
Then you’ll see a crisis coming on.
Don’t get worried, don’t get nervous.
Send that kid into the service,
Let him rise into the Pentagon.
At the Pentagon he’ll rise.
The President he will advise,
His reputation growing all the while.
With his picture on the wall,
He’ll get that long-awaited call,
And press the firing buttons with a smile.