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Jason Isbell – Dress Blues lyrics

What can you see from your window?
I can't see anythin' from mine
Flags on the side of the highway
And scripture on grocery store signs

Maybe eighteen was too early
Maybe thirty or forty is too
Did you get your chance to make peace with the man
Before He sent down his angels for you?

Mamas and grand mamas love you
'Cause that's all they know how to do
You never planned on the bombs in the sand
Or sleepin' in your dress blues

Your wife said this all would be funny
When you got back home in a week
Turn twenty two and we'd celebrate you
In a bar or a tent by the creek

Your baby would just about be here
And your very last tour would be up
But you won't be back, they're all dressin' in black
Drinkin' sweet tea in Styrofoam cups

Mamas and grand mamas love you
American boys hate to lose
You never planned on the bombs in the sand
Or sleepin' in your dress blues

The high school gymnasium's ready
Full of flowers and old Legionnaires
Nobody showed up to protest
Just sniffle and stare

There's red, white and blue in the rafters
And there's silent old men from the Corps
What did they say when they shipped you away
To fight somebody's Hollywood war?

Nobody here could forget you
You showed us what we had to lose
You never planned on the bombs in the sand
Or sleepin' in your dress blues
You never planned on the bombs in the sand
Or sleepin' in your dress blues

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  • u
    My son, LCpl Ryan Winslow, was killed in Iraq 2 months after Matthew Conley, about whom this song was written. My wife and I came to know Matthew's parents through our Alabama Gold Star Families organization, which my wife founded. His dad, Tommy, told me about this song. It really gets to me. I am the Alabama coordinator for Remembering Our Fallen, a nationwide photo display of those who died in the War on Terror. Whenever I have the display set up, I spend as much time with it as I can so I can tell people about our brave Alabamians who gave all for our country. I always make it a point to tell people about "Dress Blues" being written about Matthew.
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  • grendel53
    Just a heart wrenchingly sad tale of loss and sacrifice. Marines are usually buried in a Dress Blue uniform so this fallen Marine is "sleepin in your Dress Blues". The parents that lose a son, the wife that loses her husband, the baby that loses a father, the nation that loses a young man, all are brought low with grief and loss and pride and anger. What do the old warriors think? Those men who also were in war and did things and saw things that no body should have to do or see. The plans, the dreams, the life cut short. Watch HBO's "Taking Chance" or read "Letters Home" to get a true sense of the love and sacrifice involved. This tune captures it as well.
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