The Willing Conscript Lyrics - Pete Seeger

Pete Seeger Broadside Ballads Volume 2 cover art
Release information
Release Date: 1963-1-1
length: 2:18
composer: Tom Paxton
lyricist: Tom Paxton

Oh Sergeant I'm a draftee and I've just arrived in camp
I've come to wear the uniform and join the martial tramp
And I want to do my duty, but one thing I do implore
You must give me lessons, sergeant, for I've never killed before

To do my job obediently is my only desire
To learn my weapon thoroughly and how to aim and fire
To learn to kill the enemy and then to slaughter more
I'll need instruction, sergeant, for I've never killed before

Now there are several lessons that I haven't mastered yet
I haven't got the hang of how to use the bayonet
If he doesn't die at once am I to stick him with it more?
Oh, I hope you will be patient, for I've never killed before

Oh, there are rumors in the camp about our enemy
They say that when you see him he looks just like you and me
But you deny it, Sergeant, and you are a man of war
So you must give me lessons, for I've never killed before

The hand grenade is something that I just don't understand
You've got to throw it quickly or you're apt to lose your hand
Does it blow a man to pieces with it's wicked, muffled roar?
Oh, I've got so much to learn because I've never killed before

Oh, I want to thank you, Sergeant, for the help you've been to me
For you've taught me how to slaughter and to hate the enemy
And I know that I'll be ready when they march me off to war
And I know that it won't matter that I've never killed before
And I know that it won't matter that I've never killed before

Lyrics licensed by
CD 1
  • 1 Little Boxes
  • 2 Fare Thee Well
  • 3 Never Turn Back, We'll Never Turn Back
  • 4 The Willing Conscript
  • 5 The Ballad Of Ira Hayes
  • 6 Who Killed Davey Moore?
  • 7 I Ain't A-Scared Of Your Jail
  • 8 What Did You Learn In School Today?
  • 9 A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall
  • 10 The Thresher
  • 11 William Moore, The Mailman
  • 12 Business
  • 13 The Song Of The Punch Press Operator
  • 14 The Ballad Of Lou Marsh