Week 319: Jimmy Newman, by Tom Paxton

The singer/songwriter Thomas Richard (‘Tom’) Paxton was born in 1937. For full effect you really need to hear this as sung by Tom, with its urgent driving rhythms an accompaniment to the increasing pathos and desperation of the soldier who cannot or will not see what we realise early on about his buddy. But I think that even on the printed page it makes a very effective antiwar poem: it may not be Wilfred Owen, but it’s not that far removed from the saeva indignatio of Sassoon.

Jimmy Newman

Get up, Jimmy Newman, the morning is come
The engines are rumbling, the coffee’s all brewed
Get up, Jimmy Newman, there’s work to be done
And why do you lie there still sleeping?

There’s a waiting line forming to use the latrine
And the sun is just opening the sky
Ah the breakfast they’re serving just has to be seen
And you’ve only to open your eyes

Get up, Jimmy Newman, my radio’s on
The news is all bad, but it’s good for a laugh
The tent flap is loose and the peg must be gone
And why do you lie there still sleeping?

The night nurse is gone and the sexy one’s here
And she tells us such beautiful lies
Her uniform’s tight on her marvellous rear
And you’ve only to open your eyes

Get up, Jimmy Newman, you’re missing the fun
They’re loading the planes, Jim, it’s time to go home
It’s over for us; there’s no more to be done
And why do you lie there still sleeping?

It’s stateside for us, Jim, the folks may not know
We’ll let it be such a surprise
They’re loading us next, Jim, we’re ready to go
And you’ve only to open your eyes

Get up, Jimmy Newman! They won’t take my word
I said you sleep hard, but they’re shaking their heads
Get up, Jimmy Newman, and show them you heard
Ah, Jimmy just show them you’re sleeping

A joke is a joke, but there’s nothing to gain
Jim, I’d slap you, but I’m too weak to rise
Get up, damn it, Jimmy! You’re missing the plane
And you’ve only to open your eyes

Tom Paxton

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