Being Veterans Day today, it’s only appropriate that this be about a song that can relate to the men and women that have served, and are currently serving, in the United States Military. In this post, i’m going to focus on one song, and that song? “Talking Old Soldiers” co-wrote by Elton John and Bernie Taupin.

In 1970, Elton John released his third studio album titled “Tumbleweed Connection.” This was a concept album about the western/country lifestyle , and included the song “Talking Old Soldiers.”

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Zoomed in look at “Tumbleweed Connection” by Elton John, released October 30th, 1970

 

“Talking Old Soldiers” is a narrative story about a younger man meeting an older man in a bar. This older man is a Military Veteran, and in their conversation the old soldier tells the younger man about how he is lonely, and misses the men he served with that never made it back. In this story, there is indication that the old soldier is suffering from PTSD, and that he is thankful that the younger man sat down to listen to him, because no one else would. When asked about “Talking Old Soldiers” in an interview with Elton John and Taupin on rollingstone.com, Elton John says, “That was a very David Ackles-influenced song. If you notice “Tumbleweed Connection” is dedicated “with love to David.” That’s David Ackles. It is sort of a narrative.”

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Lyrics of “Talking Old Soldiers” found inside the album.

“Talking Old Soldiers” Lyrics

Why hello, say can I buy you another glass of beer?
Well, thanks a lot that’s kind of you, it’s nice to know you care
These days there’s so much going on
No one seems to want to know
I may be just an old soldier to some
But I know how it feels to grow old

Here, the two first meet, and the old soldier tells the younger man how he appreciates the younger man taking the time to talk with him.

“Talking Old Soldiers” Lyrics

Yeah, that’s right, you can see me here most every night
You’ll always see me staring at the walls and at the lights
Funny I remember, oh it’s years ago I’d say
I’d stand at that bar with my friends who passed away
And drank three times the beer that I can drink today
Yes, I know how it feels to grow old

At this point, the old soldier tells the younger man that he used to hangout at the bar with his military buddies who passed away, and how in his younger days, he could take in a lot more alcohol than he can now.

“Talking Old Soldiers” Lyrics

I know what they’re saying son
There goes old man Joe again
Well, I may be mad at that I’ve seen enough
To make a man go out his brains
Well do they know what it’s like to have a graveyard as a friend
Because that’s where they are boy, all of them
Don’t seem likely I’ll get friends like that again, yeah

From here, the old soldier implies he has PTSD by saying “well, I may be mad at that I’ve seen enough to make a man go out his brains.” He then goes on to mention the most powerful line in the conversation “well do they know what it’s like to have a graveyard as a friend, because that’s where they are boy, all of them.”

“Talking Old Soldiers” Lyrics

Well, it’s time I moved off
But it’s been great just listening to you
And I might even see you next time I’m passing through
You’re right there’s so much going on
No one seems to want to know
So keep well, keep well old friend
And have another drink on me
Just ignore all the others
You got your memories
You got your memories

In the final part of the song, the younger man tells the old soldier he enjoyed his time talking with him, and how it does appear no one seems to care. The younger man ends his goodbye telling him to have another drink on him, and to ignore the ones who don’t care, because his memories are more important.

“Talking Old Soldiers” sums up the fact that Military Veterans sacrifice more than you can imagine, and that this fact should never be ignored.

“Talking Old Soldiers” co-wrote by Elton John and Bernie Taupin 

 

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