Not a Bad Man

Album: American Kid (2013)

Songfacts®:

  • The American Kid album deals with death in a number of ways. This song tells the story of a young soldier who is sent to fight in Iraq. He makes it back to America, but is traumatized by what he saw there.

    Griffin explained the song's backstory to The Daily Telegraph: "There was a marine who had returned home from Iraq to Austin, Texas, where I live," she said. "A lot of kids got lured in by the marketing campaign and joined up and they weren't really sure who they were fighting. It was after 9/11 and the Twin Towers had come down and these boys were going to go to fight. For me, that was a very terrifying time to be in America and to be an American. Lots of our soldiers came home really damaged after they realised they were harming people they didn't know."

    "I read a story in a paper about a family who were trying to get a young family member out of the military and get him some mental health care. That didn't prove possible and he ended up dead and it wasn't clear whether it was a suicide. So I wrote the song to get inside that kid, if I could."
  • This song is one of the most powerful songs that she has written against war, telling the story of a soldier who becomes the product of a war far more contemporary than the one her father had fought in: World War II.

    The title says something about who the man was and who many soldiers of later times represent. They are not bad men, but are being forced to fight unjust wars, often because they signed up without understanding the consequences.

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