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Daily Lyric: PANIC!

Updated: Oct 9, 2023

Dust and sand and mosquitoes and flies

Smoke and exhaust and sweat and noise

Screams and shouts and curses and orders

Grease and grime and garbage and odors

Dorks and hotshots and potbellied brass

Rocks in the head and kicks in the ass

Breakdowns and blackouts it’ll never be over

Is this a war? No it’s just a maneuver

Pressure pressure everybody’s screaming

Chaos chaos the whole room stinks

Madness madness feedback volume

Panic panic I JUST CAN’T THINK!

Oh lord help me I’m going crazy

My brain is coming apart at the seams

Jarred loose from its moorings and off its hinges

This nightmare is beyond my wildest dreams

©2023 The Hesh Inc.
Two views out of the front of my halftrack.

Second of the songs I wrote while on maneuvers with my artillery group in the Negev desert near Shivta base in the summer of 1987.

I wasn't supposed to be on this maneuver. I was scheduled to be part of the skeleton crew staffing my unit's headquarters, a half hour's drive outside of Jerusalem, while the rest of the troops were doing their thing in the desert. It was supposed to be a breeze ... come to base in the morning, sit in for my absent superior officer at his desk and take all calls, perhaps do a bit of sentry duty, then go home in the evening.

I had just gotten engaged, and for an engagement present for my fiancée I had bought two tickets to the Bob Dylan/Tom Petty concert at the Sultan's Pool in Jerusalem that week. The morning of the show, I arrived on base in good spirits, looking forward to getting off of base that evening. Before I made it as far as the office block, the sergeant on duty saw me and deadpanned, "OK, you can wipe the smile off your face right now." "Why?" I asked. "You're going to Shivta."

You've never seen a smile disappear, or feel a heart fall through the floor, any faster than mine did at that moment. No Dylan, no Petty, no Sultan's Pool, no engagement present.

Instead, I caught a lift with the next truck headed south from my base toward Shivta. En route, we passed through Jerusalem, and I had the driver stop at the outlet where I had bought the tickets so I could get a refund. As soon as I arrived at Shivta, I changed into fatigues, boarded one of the command halftracks, and rode with the mobile howitzers into the desert. Hi ho Shivta, awaaaay! I missed Bob and Tom for this! Yippee!

I wrote the lyrics during a pause in the maneuver on a dusty piece of army-issue stationery I still have in my archives. I had the music to Lou Reed's song, "The Blue Mask," roaring through my head as I wrote the words. Never recorded or performed, though.

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