SLS ~ Wife


Thanks go out to our musical host Jim Adams for putting together these great SLS prompts. For today, I chose “Billy Don’t Be A Hero” by Paper Lace. While the title doesn’t contain the keyword, the lyrics have both “fiancée” and “wife.” The song was written by Mitch Murray and Peter Callander, and was first recorded in 1974 by Paper Lace. It was a hit for the group in the UK, and that same year it was also a hit in the US for Bo Donaldson & the Heywoods.

The lyrics tell an interesting story. We hear them from a bystander’s perspective, as he discusses how Billy’s fiancée (not named, so we will call her “BF”) feels as Billy leaves for war (we assume it’s Vietnam, but that’s not specified). The observer says BF tells Billy not to be a hero because she wants him to come back. The most important thing to her is that he stays safe so they can get married. Naturally, he doesn’t listen to her and dies. At the end, the observer says she threw away the letter informing her of his death, implying she was angry and/or didn’t care any longer, since Billy hadn’t listened.

I’m always curious about the observer: was he romantically interested in BF? Is he now her husband and thus privy to this info? Or is he merely observing from afar the whole time? It’s easy to sympathize with BF… she loved Billy and wanted to protect him. But I wonder if she were more in love with an idea… the idea of marriage and Billy as her husband. Did she even know the real Billy? That guy jumped up to try to help his fellow soldiers. That’s who he was. So many times we fail to see the real person behind our idea of who we want them to be.

Billy Don’t Be A Hero

The marchin’ band came down along Main Street
The soldier blues fell in behind
I looked across and there I saw Billy
Waiting to go and join the line
And with her head upon his shoulder
His young and lovely fiancee
From where I stood I saw she was cryin’
And through her tears I heard her say
Billy, don’t be a hero, don’t be a fool with your life
Billy, don’t be a hero, come back and make me your wife
And as he started to go she said, Billy, keep your head low
Billy, don’t be a hero, come back to me
The soldier blues were trapped on a hillside
The battle raging all around
The sergeant cried, We’ve got to hang on, boys!
We’ve got to hold this piece of ground
I need a volunteer to ride up
And bring us back some extra men
And Billy’s hand was up in a moment
Forgettin’ all the words she said
She said
Billy, don’t be a hero, don’t be a fool with your life
Billy, don’t be a hero, come back and make me your wife
And as he started to go she said, Billy, keep your head low
Billy, don’t be a hero, come back to me
I heard his fiancee got a letter
That told how Billy died that day
The letter said that he was a hero
She should be proud he died that way
I heard she threw that letter away …


©️2020 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted. Please check out Paula’s books for sale on Amazon.

12 responses to “SLS ~ Wife

  1. Oh wow, I remember this! Good choice!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I really love your analysis of this song Paula, especially your wondering who the observer is. You mentioned Vietnam, but the video shows the Civil War. I wonder how well you have to know somebody to marry them as most people that marry young, don’t even know themselves yet, much less anyone else. I like the whistling in this song and it will probably remain stuck in my head the rest of the day.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I always like this song but had forgotten about it. I was wondering if anyone would find a fiance song. Great choice!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Also wondered who might finance. Well done!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. So true! I think a lot of people get so caught up in the idea of a wedding they don’t think about the actual marriage, and how much work a marriage takes.

    I haven’t heard this song is ages!🎶💃🏼💕

    Liked by 1 person

  6. There was another song called “Tell Laura I Love Her”, also about a fiancé who did something and got himself killed. It’s an older song, 1960, but one of the AM radio stations in NYC, WABC, played it around the time that Billy was popular. I used to tune in to that station just to hear that song.

    Liked by 1 person

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