“The Ballad of Ira Hayes” released by Johnny Cash

Ira Hayes, Ira Hayes

Call him drunken Ira Hayes

He won’t answer anymore

Not the whiskey drinkin’ Indian

Nor the Marine that went to war

 

Gather ’round me people there’s a story I would tell

About a brave young Indian you should remember well

From the land of the Pima Indian, a proud and noble band

Who farmed the Phoenix Valley in Arizona land

 

Down the ditches for a thousand years

The water grew Ira’s people’s crops

Till the white man stole their water rights

And the sparklin’ water stopped

 

Now Ira’s folks were hungry

And their land grew crops of weeds

When war came, Ira volunteered

And forgot the white man’s greed

 

Call him drunken Ira Hayes

He won’t answer anymore

Not the whiskey drinkin’ Indian

Nor the Marine that went to war

 

There they battled up Iwo Jima’s hill

Two hundred and fifty men

But only twenty seven lived

To walk back down again

 

And when the fight was over

And ‘Old Glory’ raised

Among the men who held it high

Was the Indian, Ira Hayes

 

Call him drunken Ira Hayes

He won’t answer anymore

Not the whiskey drinkin’ Indian

Nor the Marine that went to war

 

Ira Hayes returned a hero

Celebrated through the land

He was wined and speeched and honored

Everybody shook his hand

 

But he was just a Pima Indian

No water, no home, no chance

At home nobody cared what Ira’d done

And when did the Indians dance

 

Call him drunken Ira Hayes

He won’t answer anymore

Not the whiskey drinkin’ Indian

Nor the Marine that went to war

 

Then Ira started drinkin’ hard

Jail was often his home

They’d let him raise the flag and lower it

Like you’d throw a dog a bone!

 

He died drunk early one mornin’

Alone in the land he fought to save

Two inches of water in a lonely ditch

Was a grave for Ira Hayes

 

Call him drunken Ira Hayes

He won’t answer anymore

Not the whiskey drinkin’ Indian

Nor the Marine that went to war

 

Yeah, call him drunken Ira Hayes

But his land is just as dry

And his ghost is lyin’ thirsty

In the ditch where Ira died

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4 Comments

Filed under Lyrics, Military

4 responses to ““The Ballad of Ira Hayes” released by Johnny Cash

  1. Ira Hayes was born in Arizona, USA on 12 January 1923, and died 24 January 1955, aged just 32 years. He was a Pima Native American and an American Marine who was one of the six men immortalized in the photo of the flag raising on Iwo Jima during World War II.
    Ira Hayes is the soldier seated over to the left of the photo where the flag has been raised.

  2. I know the song only from Dylan’s version. It’ll be interesting to hear what Johnny Cash does with it. Thanks.

    Great song.

  3. Jarim Dihsar

    from wikipedia………….for what that is worth

    “The Ballad of Ira Hayes” was written by folk singer Peter La Farge. It tells the story of Ira Hayes, one of the five Marines and one Navy Corpsman who became famous for having raised the flag on Mount Suribachi during the Battle of Iwo Jima of World War II.
    The song has been recorded many times; the most popular version is by Johnny Cash. Patrick Sky covered it on his self-titled 1965 debut album (and later for a 1985 album).
    Pete Seeger covered the song on his 1963 Album Broadside Ballads Volume 2.
    Bob Dylan followed suit by covering the song during his sessions for Self Portrait, though his version did not see release until Columbia used it as part of the Dylan album of 1973.
    Townes Van Zandt covered this song during a rare television appearance, and at The Whole Coffeehouse, University of Minnesota Campus, November 9, 1973. Kinky Friedman did a cover of the song on his 1976 record Lasso from El Paso.

  4. My grandpa is in this last picture. He is the one standing with both thumbs in his pocket.

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