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Universal Trader

by Zettel 

Posted: 13 March 2019
Word Count: 229
Summary: Cf: Universal Soldier

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The Universal Trader

He wears pinstripe suits and shiny shiny shoes
He deals in death for all and every cause
He sells to everyone, there’s no one cannot buy
He’s supplier to a thousand wars

He sells to Muslims and to Jews, to tyrants and to kings
To Catholics and Protestants the same
He knows he shouldn’t sell
Yes he knows it very well
Killing you for me and me for you

And he’s selling to Bosnia
He’s selling to the Serbs
He’s selling for the USA
And he’s selling for Great Britain
And he’s selling arms for France
And he knows that he will profit just the same

And he’s selling for democracies
He’s selling death for gain
He says it’s for the good of all
He’s the one whose trade decides
Who will live and who will die
And he never sees his deadly profits fall 

But without him
How would Saddam have tyrannised Iraq
Without him dictators could not rule
He’s the one who launders money
From profits made from war
And without him all this killing can’t go on

He’s the Universal Trader and he really is to blame
The only one who thinks he knows the score
He doesn’t care who’s right or wrong, whose children he will maim
And we know this lethal game
Is why we’ll never put an end to war.

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Comments by other Members

V`yonne at 17:10 on 14 March 2019  Report this post
That is very effective and oh so true. 

James Graham at 21:35 on 17 March 2019  Report this post
This time I have no political reservations. Universal Trader, like its inspiration, speaks the truth. Perhaps even more so: in Universal Soldier we have ‘he really is to blame’, which I suppose is ultimately true if it’s conceivable that all young men and women might have a real choice to join or refuse to join the armed services. But where you say of the Trader ‘he really is to blame’ there’s little to argue about.
In light of the stance taken in Buffy’s song, the tone of your lyrics need not be too different.The soldier and the arms manufacturer both contribute to the horrors of war. And the fact that you can adopt a similar tone helps bring your song closer in spirit to the original.
Now, I’ve listened, with great pleasure as always, to Buffy Sainte-Marie, with your words and those of the original in front of me. I can see – or rather hear – very little wrong. Line by line, your words virtually always fit the tune, and I’ve no doubt that the spirit of your song is very much in accord with Universal Soldier. You could say it’s complementary to the original: Buffy says the soldier is to blame (we know what she means) and you are saying the Trader is at least equally to blame. I would say more so. Buffy’s song needs your song to complement it.
I’d better reiterate here that I’m no musician, and walk on thin ice when criticising a song. However, I will mention one line, line 3 of the last verse:
He’s the Universal Trader and he really is to blame
The only one who thinks he knows the score
He doesn’t care who’s right or wrong, whose children he will maim
And we know this lethal game
Is why we’ll never put an end to war.
This presumably is equivalent to the third line of
He's the universal soldier and he really is to blame
His orders come from far away no more
They come from him, and you, and me
and brothers can't you see
this is not the way we put an end to war
but it’s much longer. Did you have in mind that the melody could be extended to accommodate the second half of that long line? I imagine it could, and it would be better than having to leave out ‘whose children he will maim’. I hope that makes sense.
Apart from this, there are just two minor points. In the very first line, it seems to me that two ‘shiny’s are too many:
He wears pinstripe suits and shiny shoes
This fits the rhythm of
He's five feet two and he's six feet four
Second, in the last line of verse 2 you might include ‘my friend’ as in the original. Maybe you had a reason for leaving it out?
This song deserves to be performed. Do you know anyone who could write out the score and perhaps even perform it? It’s more than good enough.
P.S. The best journalistic treatment of arms manfacturers I know is Chapter 19 of Robert Fisk’s book The Great War for Civilisation. The chapter is headed ‘Now thrive the armourers…’ He interviews arms producers and dealers and finds that they often quite successfully distance themselves from the end uses of their products. One says, ‘The purpose of a tank is to kill a tank’. When Fisk reminds him that there are human beings inside the tank, he seems to blank out this uncomfortable fact.

Zettel at 01:38 on 20 March 2019  Report this post
Quick holdong reply.


Thanks for the comments. I want to check out your suggestions.

I'll come back to you.


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