This is the time of year when we particularly remember those who gave their lives in wars past and present. Our understanding of the first and second world wars in particular has been enhanced by the contributions of the well-known war poets. More recent wars have really failed to produce the same work, but recently I have discovered the songs of Fred Smith an Australian folk singer and diplomat (yes, slightly contradictory) who as a civilian appears to really ‘get’ what it means to be a soldier fighting the modern insurgent war, this forsaken war, in Afghanistan.
His work is powerful, witty, ironic, gritty and realistic, whilst being entertaining. This is a man who understands this war from his time serving as a civilian adviser in the Afghan province of Uruzgan in 2009-2010. He has produced an album called Dust of Uruzgan which covers the whole gambit of the soldier’s life: fighting; reflection; boredom; missing beer, home and loved ones; being a brother in arms; loving the action; death; and “swaffelen“.
The title song to his album is about the death of Aussie Private Benjamin Ranaudo as told from the perspective of his mate who set off the IED. Sounds morbid but it ain’t and you can almost feel that Afghan dust in your hair, your eyes and your boots.
Fred’s album, the Dust of Uruzgan can be found on Amazon. It is great. If you are an ex-serviceman you will want to own this.
His website is here.
This version of Fred’s performance includes a full explanation of all the TLA’s that is the daily vocabulary of the modern day soldier.