The Whole Bolivian Army
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C R E D I T S
MB, vocals; Matt Kite, guitar, organ, vocals, percussion; Tommy Thew, guitar, loops, vocals; Chris Gunn, bass, vocals; Dave Warburton, drums, percussion. Produced by Scott Ross and TWBA. Recorded, mixed, and mastered by Scott Ross at Elliott Bay Recording Co. (Seattle, WA). Cover photo courtesy of Dawn Birr. Music by TWBA. Lyrics by Matt Kite. Dedicated to the memory of James "Gunny" Rigdon, 1948-1994. 2003 Gargantuan Records/TWUBBA Music (ASCAP).

T R A C K   L I S T
1. Okinawa
2. Shellshock
3. Kwangju
4. Blowback
5. Ack!
6. The End of Chivalry
7. Red
8. Landmine
9. United Fruit Co.
10. Credo

V I D E O
War Stories album and "Kwangju" video (making of)
"Kwangju"
"Okinawa" live at Jamnesty (2011)
"The End of Chivalry"

R E A D I N G   L I S T
Bitter Fruit: The Story of the American Coup in Guatemala, Stephan Schlesinger & Stephen Kinzer. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1990. Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire, Chalmers Johnson. New York: Henry Holt and Co./Owl Books, 2000. Farewell Darkness: A Veteran's Triumph over Combat Trauma, Ron Zaczek. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1994. In the Realm of a Dying Emperor, Norma Field. New York: Pantheon Books, 1991. Korea's Place in the Sun, Bruce Cumings. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1997. Kwangju Diary: Beyond Death, Beyond the Darkness of the Age, Lee Jai-eui. Los Angeles: UCLA Asian Pacific Monograph Series, 1999. Okinawa: Cold War Island, Chalmers Johnson. Cardiff, CA: Japan Policy Research Institute, 1999. A Rumor of War, Philip Caputo. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1977. Vietnam: A History, Stanley Karnow. New York: Penguin Books, 1997. War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning, Chris Hedges. Public Affairs, Perseus Group, 2002.

R E V I E W S
"Matt Kite is another Seattle songwriter who has made some drastic changes. War Stories, the sixth album from Kite's The Whole Bolivian Army, is packed with intense polemics. Kite says he was inspired by research on the Vietnam War and interviews with veterans he has been doing for a book. The vivid album begins with 'Okinawa,' telling of a rape by U.S. soldiers from the victim's perspective. More often, War Stories comes from the perspective of the grunts, and Kite occasionally approaches Tim O'Brien, who wrote The Things They Carried and other unflinching fiction steeped in Vietnam. O'Brien would appreciate some of Kite's writing here ('I wake the day the shooting stops/the door, the Fourth, the engine drops/I wake the only way I can/the eyes, the eyes, I killed a man')."
— Tom Scanlon, Seattle Times, June 20, 2003

"On War Stories, The Whole Bolivian Army creates political music as though they have been doing it for years... With up-tempo songs like 'Okinawa,' the serious and moving 'Shellshock,' and 'Kwangju,' the band assumes the identities of a Japanese woman, a US veteran and a South Korean, respectively... In the end, some of the tunes are almost danceable and you can’t help but feel guilty dancing to a song like 'Shellshock.' Certain songs really stay with you, mostly due to the lyrics. For the politically active or interested, The Whole Bolivian Army offers their political opinions for conversation, without feeling as though they have been forced upon you, and created a decent album from it at the same time."

— Corinne, PlugInMusic.com, Spring 2003

"
Enclosed in the liner notes is a list of historical reading that addresses U.S. foreign policy, post-World War II... 'I wanted to have a historical reference and include the reading list in hopes that some of the fans would do their own research,' [songwriter Matt Kite] said. During the conception of War Stories, Kite was also ghostwriting a novel on the Vietnam War for which he conducted 'intense interviews' and heard 'heartbreaking stories,' he said. The research and reading material somehow found its way on TWBA's latest release."
— Christina Twu, Western Front, Oct. 14, 2003
Okinawa

I suffer the same as you
I swallow the same air you blacken
I follow my instincts
when I close my eyes and listen
OK, Joe, you tough guy
let me go
OK, Joe, you big guy
when you going home?

you crater the earth that feeds us
you puncture the silence with cannons
you force me to hold still
while you empty your ammunition
OK, Joe, you sweaty
let me go
OK, Joe, you hairy
when you going home?

you sent the man
you sent the man
you pulled me down
I tried to stand
you broke the dam
you broke the dam
you shut my mouth
I bit your hand

you circle yourselves with barbed wire
you buffer yourselves in concrete
you station a guard in each tower
review, rehearse, and repeat
OK, Joe, you tough guy
let me go
OK, Joe, you big guy
time to go home

you sent the man
you sent the man
you pulled me down
I tried to stand
you broke the dam
you broke the dam
you shut my mouth
I bit your hand

you shut your mouth
it's time to go

I will not beg
I will not bend
I will not buy American
I will not blink
I will not bleed
I will not buy American
I will not shrink
I will not feed
I will not buy American
I will not spend
I will not spend
I will not buy American


Shellshock

don't say
you believe in me
you're on your own
so don't look down
it's a long way down
a long way down

don't say
just get over it
you never served
you never lived
you're in your own world
a tiny, shiny world

don't say
you understand
every dream
a primal scream
it's a long way down
a long way down

I dream the life I used to live
the wire, the hole, the trophy shiv
I dream the only life I get
the night, the black, the terror fit
shellshock...

don't say
you pity me
I did my best
just like the rest
we gave it away
gave it away

so don't say
you believe in me
I died the day
they discharged me
it's a long way home
a long way home

I wake the day the shooting stops
the door, the Fourth, the engine drops
I wake the only way I can
the eyes, the eyes -- I killed a man
shellshock...


Kwangju

flower boxes
we had flower boxes
we had broken bones and cobblestones
we had flower boxes

bayonets
they had bayonets
they had M-16's blow'n to smithereens
they had bayonets

I lost my brother
I lost my sister
in a cell or in a well --
I hope he's with her

we're on a "fascinating vacation"
a giddy, strange elation
we packed our gas masks
we're headed for the station

we're on a "fascinating vacation"
a choking, wild sensation
we packed our gas masks
we're headed for the station

TNT
we got TNT
we got vintage guns and taxi runs
we got TNT

got the green light
they got the green light
ROK from the USA
they got the green light

I lost my brother
I lost my sister
in a cell or in a well --
I hope he's with her

we're on a "fascinating vacation"
a giddy, strange elation
we packed our gas masks
we're headed for the station

we're on a "fascinating vacation"
a choking, wild sensation
we packed our gas masks
we're headed for the station


Blowback

hey, boy
just wrap yourself in the flag
it feels so good
people you don't know
bomb people you don't know
it feels so good

intuition? institution!
Bible thump'n, Limbaugh hump'n
it feels so good
death squads and democracy
bitter fruit and happy pills
you feel so good

what you don't know
what you don't care
what you don't get
you could never dare
(blowback) we sow the seeds that poison us
(blowback) we bear the fruit that staggers us
(blowback) we kiss the thorn that bloodies us
(blowback) we build the freaks that frighten us
blowback

hey, boy
just wrap yourself in your god
it feels so good
people you don't know
smite people you don't know
it feels so good

you're right, I'm wrong
God hates this song
you're saved, I'm not
you know I'm not
I'm going down
you're rising up
it barely fits --
your crucifix
it feels so good…


Ack!

it's on the radio
it's on the big screen
it's on my forehead
searing into me

brand me

it's in our blood
it's in our DNA
it's on each bar code
whispering what to say

sell me

it's on the bus stop
it's on the boardwalk
it's on the billboard
crowing like a cock

own me

I don't need anymore
I don't want anymore
I don't feel anymore
I can't breathe anymore

it's in my throat
almost on my lips
it's coming back up
it's coming… back up


The End of Chivalry

sun goes down
sun down
lights go out
lights out
I wait for your whisper
nothing

sun comes up
sun up
breath goes out
breathe in
I wait at the table
nothing

and you won't run the bulls again
and you won't serenade me again

sun goes down
sun down
lights go out
lights out


Red

elephant grass
ten foot high
all we got
twice too high

shirtless boy
staring up at me
all he got
still smoking in the trees

chewing a cigarette
spooning a canned peach
all I got
I left on the beach

office no windows
paper trail to waste
all they got
a sterile world away

baby killers -- zoom!
they see us on the news
all they got
a shrinking, burning fuse

the front is the rear
is the wait is the fear
is the rain is the heat
is the kill is the meat
is the rot is the boot
is the spike is the foot
is the blood is the loam
is the war is our home

the war is our home…


Landmine

I'll learn to walk with one leg
I'll learn to crawl with none
a crab on the floor
I slither and beg
a crab at your door
I beg

mercy

I'll learn to sign with my other hand
I'll learn to breathe with one lung
deformed on the sheets
I fumble and quake
deformed at your feet
I speak

love me
(land on me…)

I'll learn to walk the fields like this
I'll learn to breathe in the mist
a bee on the sage
the grass, the stones
a bee at my hip
explodes

I'm free
(land on me…)


United Fruit Co.

remember Sam the Banana Man?
the (super) Dulles Brothers?
the Ambassador from Hell?
everybody liked Ike…

United! Fruit! Co.!

teachers and preachers
writers and thinkers
unionists and socialists
everybody's in the ground…

United! Fruit! Co.!

what price freedom?
what price democracy?
what price, America?
collective amnesia…

United! Fruit! Co.!


Credo

help me believe in motherhood
in fevers broken, in comfort spoken
help me believe in the hands of love
let me sing, let me sing

you're more than a Christian
you're more than a Jew
you're more than Allah ever knew
you're more than your Chakras
you're more than your flesh
you're more than the pills they sold to you

so help me believe in childhood
in thirsty days, in humming planes
help me believe in memory
in rivers run, September sun

you're more than a human bomb
you're more than a pawn
you're more than the Man would ever let on
you're more than a way of life
you're more than a flag
you're more than the dog they try to wag

so help me believe in childhood
in thirsty days, in humming planes
help me believe in memory
in rivers run, September sun
help me believe in motherhood
in fevers broken, in comfort spoken
help me believe in the hands of love
let me sing, let me sing

you don't need to be the hammer
you don't need to be the spike
you don't need to be the thresher
the fuel, the fire, the fight
just help me believe