The Cruel War Karaoke - Peter, Paul and Mary

"The Cruel War", also known as "The Cruel War is Raging," is an old Anglo-American folk song in which a young woman expresses her sense of impending loss as her lover, Johnny, prepares to march off to war.





The Cruel War by Peter, Paul and Mary Song Trivia

In the original folk song, the woman disguises herself as a man so as to fight alongside Johnny. Despite the title of the song, "The Cruel War" does not carry an overt anti-war or pro-peace message as much as it deals with the intense feelings of the young woman.

This lyric song supposedly dates back to the Civil War, but others claim that it is fact much older, perhaps dating to the Revolutionary War. Civil War era photos exist of women dressed in soldier's uniforms. Some versions of this song have a tragic ending when the young woman is killed in battle.




The "Cruel War" rose to prominence in 1962 and 1963. Peter Yarrow, of the group Peter, Paul & Mary, reworked the traditional folk song, creating the three-voice arrangement recorded by his ensemble for their debut album Peter, Paul, and Mary.

Yarrow also changed the form of the original song a bit, adding a tag phrase at the conclusion of each stanza, and truncating the original number of stanzas. The original tune could be, and probably frequently was, harmonized rather simply back when it was a true folk material.

Peter, Paul & Mary made the charts several times with "The Cruel War": their 1962 debut album, which included the song, held the #1 spot on Billboard's pop album charts for seven weeks, remaining on the charts for 185 weeks.


The Cruel War by Peter, Paul and Mary Song Lyrics

The Cruel War is raging, Johnny has to fight
I want to be with him from morning to night.
I want to be with him, it grieves my heart so,
Won't you let me go with you?
No, my love, no.

Tomorrow is Sunday, Monday is the day
That your Captain will call you and you must obey.
Your captain will call you it grieves my heart so,
Won't you let me go with you?
No, my love, no.

I'll tie back my hair, men's clothing I'll put on,
I'll pass as your comrade, as we march along.
I'll pass as your comrade, no one will ever know.
Won't you let me go with you?
No, my love, no.

Oh Johnny, oh Johnny, I fear you are unkind
I love you far better than all of mankind.
I love you far better than words can e're express
Won't you let me go with you?
Yes, my love, yes.



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