1980 - Until this moment I hadn't realized how prolific a year 1980 was for my song writing! Anyways, the Iranian hostage crisis and the seemingly daily events of war in the Middle East inspired this one. I was in the process of forming my own opinions about war and peace and the place of the USA in the global balance of power. Like many young people of my era, I was being heavily influenced by the anti-war, anti-establishment attitudes that were so prevalent in those years. But a part of me felt bad about not signing up to defend my country and from time to time I found myself conflicted in my beliefs.
Against this backdrop, I wondered what it would be like to be a soldier in captivity and not be able to get word back home. This song got much inspiration from my son Kaleb who was a Sargent in the US Army when I finally finished it. Although it may be dated, the principles within are fairly timeless in this world of political unrest, mistrust in the governing powers of this world and presence of war.
The bulk of the song was written while I was living on Klondyke in Downy California (a suburb of LA) and brings to mind this alcoholic woman that lived next door. She heard me playing my guitar a lot and told me she had a friend who had a recording studio and offered to get a copy of my songs to him to help further my music career. I wish I had a dollar for every time someone told me something like that! Ultimately none of these types of promises have ever come to fruition in my life, although I have no doubt there are those out there who have been “discovered” that way. Anyway, she was kind of a strange lady who could be found in the neighborhood bar most any hour of the day from the time they opened to the time they closed. Being the reflective person I am, it think looking at her life really made me consider the direction of my own. It was right around then I happened to meet the old man living across the street.
I forget his name, but for the sake of this story, I’ll call him Earl. Earl was in his late seventies and although he could still walk, didn’t get out much. He lived with his wife who was similar in age although she was a lot more ‘with it’ physically and mentally. She was a retired piano teacher and played several Scott Joplin tunes for me. Earl was a Catholic and his wife was not, so he lamented the fact that he had nobody to take him to church, so I took on the job for a couple of months. He told me he had made his living at the race track betting on horses. His wife told me the doctors had predicted he would die some fifteen years earlier, but she said he just refused, he was so stubborn!
So here’s the point I was getting around to- one day he comes over and looks me in the eye and says, “God sent me over here!” I got a chill clear down to my bone at that moment. He continued, “He told me to tell you that if you give your life to Him, you will have a wonderful life ahead of you. But if you don’t many horrible things will happen to you.” His words cut me to the heart and from that moment on I began thinking of how I might turn my life away from worldly pursuits and follow the call of God on my life. I didn’t know what that call was, but the next three years would reveal His will very clearly.
The song was finally completed and it reflects the deep distrust for Iranian-Americans which was so prevalent in my circle of friends at that time. The songs don’t lie and show where I was at back then for good or for bad.
I AM A SOLDIER
Words and music by Reggie Michaud © 1980
Are you traveling across that sea? Will you take this to my family?
For it seems like such a gloomy day. I’m a prisoner and I have to stay.
While my people are so far away. Won’t you help me someone please?
Now the young son of the enemy keeps his bankroll hidden carefully
And he tells dad in his boyish way bout the latest joke of the USA
And the man can’t help but look away, for his hate’s too strong to tease!
I am a soldier fighting for the land of the free
All of your children can sleep tight tonight because of me
Someday I will be back to enjoy what I now protect
I don’t need to be your hero; I just want to earn your respect
From the ground and in the air, we will fight because we care
For the people that we love with the grace from God above…
If you see me on that road, you can help me with this heavy load
And together we can find a way to our freedom from the games we play
Cause my reason seems so far away. Won’t you help me someone please?
I must go now on this very day, to the battle and into harm’s way.
For it’s time now to obey commands and engage the war with these two hands
I must set aside my lifelong plans; won’t you pray for soldiers please?
I am a soldier fighting for what I now believe
All you civilians wait and watch; shout and grieve
Someday I will be there if I live to see another day
I don’t need to be your hero; it’s just the price someone’s got to pay