One of my favourite songs ever is When The War Is Over. It was written by one of England’s great songwriters, Alan Hull, and performed by his band Lindisfarne.
Click here to see the video, look below for the lyrics:
When the war is over, we can be kind again
You can be my lover, I will be your friend
And the drunkard in the gutter who’s laughing at the moon
Will have whiskey and dry ginger served from a silver spoon
And the phonies and the copouts, the lonelys and the weird
In one single moment will brush away their fears When the war is over, no battles to be won or lost
No one to claim the victory, no one cares to count the cost And the children will be the teachers, their lessons will be so clear
To see with open eyes, to hear with open ears
And you will understand me, it’s easy you will find
To reach with open arms, to speak with open mind When the war is over, no battles to be won or lost
No one to claim the victory, no one cares to count the cost
When the war is, when the war is, when the war is over
To me, it’s one of those songs that evokes feelings that I can’t explain. It’s about war and its aftermath, obviously, but I don’t see it just about war. As with many of the best lyrics, you can interpret them in different ways. Like with Covid-19.
People have described Covid-19 as being an unseen enemy against which we have declared war. And in a way they’re right. It’s like nothing that’s happened before in my lifetime, it’s terrifying and, even now, I am casting a hopeful glance into the distance of how things will be when the war is over.
The words of the song are full of hope and my God we need hope at the moment. We certainly need something to believe in and that ‘we can be kind again’.
There is one particular line that leaps right out at me. This one: ‘No one to claim the victory, no one cares to count the cost.’ The only victory will be when mankind has defeated Covid-19. But it is surely not a victory to be marked by wild celebrations, firework displays and street parties because many people, even on the most optimistic estimates, will die. And anyway, the end will not happen in one magical instant. There can be no cheering when the temporary morgues are still being closed down.
Just that we can be kind again. Amen to all that.