Top 30 Soldier Songs: #1 – “Some Gave All” by Billy Ray Cyrus
When Memorial Day or the 4th of July arrives there is one song that dominates country airwaves everywhere throughout the day. That song is the #1 soldier song in country music, a song by Billy Ray Cyrus that, despite its poor radio success due to unsolicited airplay, became one of the few big hits of his career. The single was released from his debut album of the same name and even today stands as one of the most popular patriotic songs in the genre.
No song tackles the soldier concept as universally and effectively as Billy’s tribute to those who have and will die for the sake of American freedom. The message is plain and simple, these soldiers gave everything they had for their country and to keep us free. In the end many of them paid the biggest price there is for people they didn’t even know. The American people often forget what it took to get us this far and whether it be losing their lives or losing their sanity or luxuries our armed forces are the ones to thanks. Led by some of the most haunting piano playing of the time, Billy’s powerful ballad took into consideration every emotion both the soldiers and their loved ones have felt over the years and put it into one four minutes powerhouse of a hit that even today stands as a sign of appreciation for the armed forced even in the most controversial of times. The point of this song was never to target war by supporting or denying it, but rather to remind us that no matter how disagreeable or costly, it’s always these men and women that have helped us to the end.
Cyrus’ ballad speaks through a narrator who recalls a former soldier named Sandy Kane. It is not revealed which war Kane served in or even how old he is, that is irrelevant. What is important is the message that Sandy Kane told the narrator which was done through the persona of a soldier, not a supporter, but an actual soldier in the song. The narrator keeps the story simple by explaining how Sandy left to war as a “boy” and “came back a man” although no-one ever really knew his name or what he had done for his country. To that he recalls Sandy’s response which becomes the chorus. The second verse is in the present, after Sandy’s death, where the narrator is still haunted by Sandy’s words and the ability for America to so easily forget those who were like Sandy. The whole song sums up to the one point that Sandy Kane makes in his speech, which is the tagline for the chorus and the entire song, “all gave some, and some gave all“. Sandy’s statement was meant to spark pride in America and remind everyone, one person at a time, that freedom didn’t come easy and it’s because of soldiers like him that we have it.
It’s cut and dry, Billy Ray Cyrus may not be the biggest star in country music history, but his soldier song will go down as one of the best the music indiustry has ever had to offer. It speaks for every soldier who has gone and who will die for the sake of American freedom no matter how controversial or costly the battle and gives extreme credit to those who have lived and came home only to be forgotten after everything they did. For 15 years this song has been an anthem to the American people and has served as a constant reminder to the nation of what it costs to be free. This truely is the best soldier song in country music.