Friday, January 16, 2015

The Ballad of Ira Hayes

Indian Marine
Raises Iwo Jima flag.
Goes home, drinks, and dies.

Bob Dylan recorded this Peter La Farge song in 1969 or 1970 for the "Self Portrait" album, though it didn't appear until Columbia released the "Dylan" album in 1973 after Dylan left the label for Geffen Records. The song, which most people know from the Johnny Cash version on "Bitter Tears," is about the death of Pima tribesman who was among the military men who raised the American flag on Mount Suribachi during the Battle of Iwo Jima.

Hayes came home a hero, a status with which he was uncomfortable. He became an alcoholic and eventually froze to death, drunk, in Arizona.

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