Song Review: The War Was In Color by Carbon Leaf

I’m honestly not even sure if song reviews are a thing, but I’ve been in love with this song for months and really want to talk about it, so I’m doing it anyway.

So, I first discovered The War Was In Color through this fan video that someone made based on the first Captain America and Avengers movies, which is honestly kind of perfect, so I would definitely recommend watching that. But the song is also really gorgeous just by itself, so that’s what I’m going to focus on here: it is a tribute to those who fought during World War II, from a U.S. perspective.

I happen to be involved in a big WWII project at work right now, so I’m already feeling a bit invested in the time period and also pretty emotional about it. That makes the lyrics for this song hit me a little harder even than they did when I first discovered it.

I see you’ve found a box of my things –
Infantries, tanks and smoldering airplane wings.
These old pictures are cool. Tell me some stories
Was it like the old war movies?
Sit down son. Let me fill you in

I love the imagery here – it’s just a box of old photographs, but to the WWII veteran, it’s a lot more than that: “infantries, tanks and smoldering airplane wings.” These are the pieces of the war that he remembers, not the two-dimensional pictures. I like also the imagery of a younger family member actually asking a veteran about his time in the war, and the veteran being willing to answer and speak about it.

Where to begin? Let’s start with the end
This black and white photo don’t capture the skin
From the flash of a gun to a soldier who’s done
Trust me grandson
The war was in color

There is something about the last line of this verse/the title of this song that really hits me. Even as an historian who knows better, it is still sometimes easy to get caught up in the immediate depictions of the war that are readily available to me…the black and white photographs, newspapers, and movies of the time. There are other artifacts as well, of course, that are not black and white (colorful propaganda posters, flags, etc.). But so many of the direct photographs of that era are black and white, that it can be easy to forget: like life for all people, in all places and all times, this war too was in color. It was immediate and real…the present for many millions of people, even if it is the past for us now.

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im/mortal: Revelry

Cold and damp seeped in around the shutters as the chill winter wind lashed rain harder against the front of the little inn. The few travelers who had not yet sought their beds upstairs huddled well away from the outside wall, hunching over half-empty tankards and pretending that the glow of the fire was enough to ward off the dark and cold that pressed heavily against the worn wooden walls.

Muirne had wrapped herself in a second shawl and eyed the guttering lanterns near the door with resignation as she finished wiping up the bar. It was noticeably colder on that side of the main room, and she was in no hurry to go over even long enough to replace the candles. Still, maybe more light would make the room less dreary than it was, so the innkeeper sighed and moved to fetch spare candles.

The knock that came on the door just as she reached for the first lantern was not expected. Nor was it the desperate pounding she would have anticipated from a traveler still caught out in the storm. Instead, it was firm, assured, steady. Continue reading