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Oh the oak and the ash and the weeping willow tree

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Oh the oak and the ash and the weeping willow tree
And green grows the grass in North Amerikee
Oh we'll nail Old Glory to the top of the pole
And we'll all reenlist in the pig's a

A parody of the song "El Soldado Americano", with "words suggesting that the soldiers felt that their military service prepared them for lowly service indeed" (Trombold 294 and 314).

"El Soldado Americano" dates back at least to the Spanish-American War; sheet music can be found in the 1942 volume "Sound Off!": Soldier Songs From The Revolution To World War II by Edward Arthur Dolph.

John Trombold, who extensively researched the songs appearing in U.S.A., offers the following:

"The first narrative section entitled 'Joe Williams' follows Newsreel XX, which ends with a parodic variant of the song 'El Soldado Americano'... ['El Soldado Americano'] verses from World War I include many complaints against officers and a description of the speaker's imprisonment and discharge. The speaker concludes: 'To hell with all the officers, the provost and the guard.' The common soldier, the song goes, is 'Born to degradation.' This language, [military song collector Edward Arthur] Dolph notes, with a wink to the knowing audience of veterans, represents the 'expurgated' version of the song. In Dolph's version, the first verse of 'El Soldado Americano' reads:

Man born of wo-man was a sol-dier for to be, Born to de-gra-da-tion
in eve-ry de-gree; Of guard mounts and dress pa-rades he never gets
his ease; He has so many masters he don't know whom to please.
Home, boys, home! It's home we want to be! Home, boys, home! In
God's countree! The ash, and the oak, and the weeping willow tree,
And the grass grows green back in North Amerikee.

A version of "El Soldado Americano" in [another song collection]:

Wake up in the morning at the sound of reveille,
I looks at the Skipper and the Skipper looks at me.
The Skipper says, "You ain't worth a damn,
For you're only a rookie and belong to Uncle Sam!"
Then it's home, boys, home, it's home we long to be--
Home, boys, home, in North Amerikee!
We'll Hang Old Glory-

Interestingly, York appears to cut short this version abruptly." (Trombold 308-309)

Some images related to WWI military enlistment:
1. Recently enlisted men in formation on Armistice Day (November 11, 1918).
2. A 1915 recruitment poster from the Parliamentary Recruiting Committee (London).
3. 1917 U.S. propaganda poster encouraging army enlistment: "A dribbling, mustachioed ape wielding a club bearing the German word 'kultur' and wearing a pickelhaube helmet with the word 'militarism' is walking onto the shore of America while holding a half-naked woman in his grasp (possibly meant to depict Liberty). This is a US version of an earlier British poster with the same image."


Information Source:
Trombold, John. "Popular Songs as Revolutionary Culture in John Dos Passos' "U.S.A." and Other Early Works." Journal of Modern Literature 19.2 (Autumn, 1995): 289-316.

Image Sources:
1. "Local Board #17, last quota, 815 men, Nov. 11, 1918, L.A." Library of Congress Flickr Pool.
2. "Join the brave throng that goes marching along". Library of Congress Flickr Pool.
3. "'Destroy this mad brute' WWI propaganda poster (US version)", c. 1917. Deutsches Historisches Museum.

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