You Say The Battle Is Over (Live 1995) - YouTube

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About the song

John Denver’s “You Say That the Battle Is Over”. Now that’s a song that resonates deeply, a poignant ballad that cuts right to the core of environmentalism and the human impact on the natural world. Released in 1970 on Denver’s album “Take Me To Tomorrow”, it stands as a powerful critique against unchecked exploitation of wildlife and a call for a more sustainable relationship with our planet.

John Denver, of course, was a folk music icon. Known for his folksy charm, optimistic spirit, and love for the outdoors, his music often celebrated the beauty of nature. But “You Say That the Battle Is Over” takes a decidedly different turn. Here, Denver adopts a more critical lens, lamenting the devastating consequences of human actions on wildlife populations.

The song opens with a stark contrast. The listener encounters a sense of triumph, a declaration that a “battle is over” and a “war is all done.” But Denver quickly subverts this celebratory mood. He urges us to consider those who haven’t received the memo – the animals themselves, who still bear the brunt of human encroachment. The lyrics paint a vivid picture – creatures with “the wind in their nose” fleeing the “sound of the gun.” It’s a powerful image, one that forces us to confront the violence inherent in practices like hunting and whaling.

Denver doesn’t stop there. He delves deeper into the motivations behind these actions. We see a society driven by vanity – “fur coats and perfumes and trophies on walls.” The glorious chase, as Denver terms it, becomes a grotesque spectacle fueled by consumerism. The animals, imbued with a magical spark of life, are reduced to mere trophies, their loss immeasurable.

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The song’s chorus, with its repeated line of “You say that the battle is over,” becomes a haunting refrain. It serves as a constant reminder of the disconnect between human perception and ecological reality. While some might believe the fight for resources is won, the true cost remains hidden, borne by the diminishing populations of wildlife.

“You Say That the Battle Is Over” wasn’t just a lament; it was a call to action. Released at the dawn of the modern environmental movement, the song resonated with a growing public consciousness about ecological issues. Denver, a respected and beloved figure, used his platform to raise awareness about the devastating effects of human actions.

The song’s message is as relevant today as it was in 1970. We continue to grapple with the challenges of habitat loss, endangered species, and unsustainable resource consumption. “You Say That the Battle Is Over” serves as a powerful reminder that the fight for a harmonious relationship with nature is far from over. It compels us to listen, not just to celebratory pronouncements of victory, but also to the silent cries of a planet under pressure.

Video

Lyrics

“You Say That The Battle Is Over”

And you say that the battle is over, and you say that the war is all done.
Go tell it to those with the wind in their nose who run from the sound of the gun.
And write it on the sides of the great whaling-ships,
or on ice floes where conscience is tossed.

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With the wild in their eyes, it is they who must die,
and it’s we who must measure the loss.And you say that the battle is over, and finally the world is at peace.
You mean no one is dying, and mothers don’t weep, or it’s not in the papers, at least.
There are those who would deal in the darkness of life,
there are those who would tear down the sun.

And most men are ruthless, but some will still weep
when the gifts we were given are gone.Now the blame cannot fall on the heads of a few, it’s become such a part of the race.
It’s eternally tragic when that which is magic be killed at the end of the glorious chase.
From young seals to great whales, from waters to wood,
they will fall just like weeds in the wind.

With fur coats and perfumes and trophies on walls, what a hell of a race to call men.And you say that the battle is over, and you say that the war is all done.
Go tell it to those with the wind in their nose who run from the sound of the gun.
And write it on the sides of the great whaling-ships,
or on ice floes where conscience is tossed.

With the wild in their eyes, it is they who must die,
and it’s we who must measure the loss.
With the wild in their eyes, it is they who must die,
and it’s we who must measure the loss.

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