Originally a song written and performed by country artist Bruce Robison in 1996, this song has been made famous time and time again by several different artists. A more common known version is sung by the Dixie Chicks.
The lyrics speak for themselves in telling the story of this traveling soldier boy, only eighteen years old, going to Vietnam. He speaks to a girl about his fears and asks her if he can write to her because he has no one to write home to.
In the chorus, the song takes the place of the girl’s point of view, saying “I cried, never gonna hold the hand of another guy. Too young for him they told her, waitin’ for the love of a travelin’ soldier. Our love will never end, waitin’ for the soldier to come back again. Never more to be alone, when the letter says, a soldier is coming home.” It’s describing the girls feelings as she awaits the letters that tell her that the boy will come home from Vietnam. It also shows the depth of her love for this boy that she had just met and how she will never love anyone else. It also depicts the pain she feels as she waits for him to come home safe to her.
As the story continues, the lyrics describe where the letters go and come from (an army camp in California to Vietnam). It also goes on to describe the boy’s letters to the girl. One letter is referenced saying how the boy writes to her of his fears and how he might actually love the girl. He tells her that when he becomes afraid, or when things gets tough he thinks of the day he spent with her when they first met. The soldier then proceeds to tell the girl not to worry if she doesn’t hear from him for a while.
In the conclusion to the story, the scene is set at a football game. The Lord’s prayer was said and the National Anthem was sang, and the audience is asked to show respect as the list of local Vietnam soldiers that died is read. It is described that the girl is “crying alone under the stands” (we also get a little more information on her, that describes her as a piccolo player in the marching band). Only one name is read, and no one pays much mind to it, except the girl.
In comparing the two well known versions of this song, the one by Bruce Robison appears to be taken a little quicker than the one by the Dixie Chicks, however unlike the Dixie Chicks, this version has more hitching in the voice and the ups and downs of the song, thus showing more emotion and care.
My questions for my Classmates: what do you think about when you listen to this song? What emotions does this song make you feel?
“Dixie Chicks-Traveling Soldier.” YouTube. June 28, 2009. Accessed September 1, 2014. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H3b1AQFsPcc.
“Bruce Robison – Travelin’ Soldier.” YouTube. March 10, 2010. Accessed September 1, 2014. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RiN_vlzx6Po.
“Travelin’ Soldier.” Wikipedia. April 12, 2014. Accessed September 1, 2014. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Travelin’_Soldier.
“Travelin’ Soldier Lyrics.” Dixie Chicks -. Accessed September 1, 2014. http://www.metrolyrics.com/travelin-soldier-lyrics-dixie-chicks.html.