Jefferson Airplane - Wooden Ships

21 Jun
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"Wooden Ships" was written at the height of the Vietnam War, a time of great tension between the United States and the Soviet Union,nuclear-armed rivals in the Cold War. Like Tom Lehrer's "We Will All Go Together When We Go" and Barry McGuire's "Eve of Destruction," the song describes the consequences of an apocalyptic nuclear war.


 In this interpretation, the words of the song depict the horrors confronting the survivors of a nuclear holocaust in which the two sides have annihilated each other. A man from one side stumbles upon a man (or woman, as in Jefferson Airplane's version) from the other side and asks him/her, "Can you tell me, please, who won?" Since the question has no real meaning in the circumstances (or even at all), it is left unanswered. To stay alive, they share purple berries that have presumably not been poisoned by radiation. The lyrics beg "silver people on the shoreline" (described by David Crosby as "guys in radiation suits") to "let us be". As wooden ships are carrying the survivors away, radiation poisoning kills those who have not made it aboard:

Horror grips us as we watch you die
All we can do is echo your anguished cries
Stare as all human feelings die

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