The Ballad of Ira Hayes (Peter La Farge)

“The Ballad of Ira Hayes” Sheet Music (pdf).
“The Ballad of Ira Hayes” Karaoke (midi with lyrics).

Lyrics: Peter La Farge.
Tune: Peter La Farge.


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 Indians, a proud and noble band,
Who farmed the Phoenix Valley in Arizona land.

Down their ditches for a thousand years, the waters grew Ira’s people’s crops
Till the white man stole their water rights and the sparklin’ water stopped.
Now Ira’s folks grew 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.

Well, they battled up Iwo Jima Hill, two-hundred-and-fifty men,
But only twenty-seven lived to walk back down again.
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 done, and when do 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 let him raise the flag and lower it like you’d throw a dog a bone.
He died drunk early one morning, alone in the land he’d 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.

Yea, call him drunken Ira Hayes,
But his land is just as dry,
And his ghost is lying thirsty
In the ditch where Ira died.


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