Caroline's Spine
Language: English

Lyrics & Music by James "Jimmy" P. Newquist
Album: Ignore The Ants [1995]
The song tells the true story of five siblings, the Sullivan brothers from Waterloo, Iowa, who died aboard the USS "Juneau" in WW2.
Lyrically, it focuses on Mrs. Sullivan's communication both with her sons and the military. Caroline's Spine singer and main songwriter Jimmy Newquist wrote the song after reading the war documentary Hollywood Goes to War. Regarding his inspiration, he remarked:
"Coming from a big family, the story of five brothers really struck home with me. . . I saw a news clipping with a photo of Mrs. Sullivan holding a banner with five gold stars - one for each of her dead sons. It's a really sad story with incredible loyalty and courage."
Newquist later noted, "The song was an act of love. . . I sleep well at night knowing that I brought attention to something that shouldn't be forgotten." He has also regarded it among his top favorite Caroline's Spine songs.

Musically, "Sullivan" opens with a fast bass line before kicking into a full instrument intro complete with a somber, three-note lead guitar. The verses maintain a quick tempo and details the Sullivans' boarding a train and writing to their mother about the war. The first two choruses feature messages from the military to Mrs. Sullivan regarding the enlistment and status of her sons. A gentle melody and slowing in pace mark the bridge before declaring the Sullivan boys' demise. As the intensity returns, a third chorus informs Mrs. Sullivan of their death in the same fashion as those prior, suggesting that she "change her Blue Star to Gold."

"Sullivan" was originally written as a stripped down acoustic song in contrast to the full-fledged electric ensemble recorded for the album. Such an acoustic version was also recorded, however, and has received occasional radio play since the success of the original single.
It's not hard to reach back to the day underneath that Iowa sun
running to the tower of Waterloo, looking for the Sullivan's train to come
And his five boys would run to the top
and salute him as he went by
First we'd wave hello
then we'd wave goodbye, daddy,

It's not hard to reach back to the days after the attack on Pearl
Overnight my buddies turned into men running out of time for games and girls
And the Sullivan boys were not overlooked
Uncle Sam calling each by name.
the very next day they left
on a mystery train.

Say goodbye …bye-bye, Mrs. Sullivan
And don't you cry …cry..
– We regret to inform you
the Navy has taken your sons away

All five... five..
So put your blue star in the window

It's not hard to reach back to her smile when she'd receive the letter
And the letters they sounded generally the same they said they couldn't be home at least they were together
On a mighty fighting battleship
Somewhere in the South Pacific
The letters never got much -more specific

Say goodbye …Bye-bye, Mrs. Sullivan
And don't you cry …cry..
– We regret to inform you
the Navy is keeping your sons away –
All five... five…
So keep your blue star in the window
You have to keep 'em in the window..

It's not hard to reach back to the day when the war finally came home
Uncle Sam will send you a telegram so he doesn't have to tell you over the phone
I heard she cracked up
when they found out what the war had cost
when all five of her boys were lost... ..They were…

And say goodbye…Bye-bye, Mrs. Sullivan
You don't have to cry
go ahead and cry..
– We regret to inform you
that all your sons have passed away –
All five... FIVE
so change your blue star to gold
Blue star to gold
Blue star to gold
Blue stars ..Blue stars
Change into gold,
changed into gold.

Contributed by giorgio - 2010/2/16 - 12:13

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