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A Deployment Told Through Songs


Lately, I've been studying playwriting and screenwriting. Reading all these movie scripts got me thinking: If there were a musical about a deployment, what would the songs be?

Not a musical about war, mind you. There are plenty of movies, books, TV shows and plays about war. I'm thinking of a musical told from the perspective of the family waiting at home.

But then I realized that deployment as experienced on the home front would make for a pretty depressing and boring musical. It would be all struggle and sadness until the last scene of the last act.

The happiest scenes would probably get no happier than a rousing game of Bunco or a fall festival with a bounce house full of five-year-olds.

No one would want to sit through of couple of hours of "I'm lonely and exhausted and this sucks," even with singing and dancing. Even the characters in "Les Miserables" aren't that miserables from start to finish.

So maybe not a musical. But what about a soundtrack? A playlist? A mixtape?

(Sigh. A mixtape. I'm showing my age.)

There are many songs that work perfectly with a deployment sequence of events. Here are a few:

1. The night before the deployment ...
"And when the daylight comes I'll have to go, but tonight I'm gonna hold you so close."
-- Maroon Five, "Daylight"

2. The day of the deployment ...
"There goes my hero, watch him as he goes."
-- Foo Fighters, "There Goes My Hero"

3. The first week ...
"And I guess that's why they call it the blues. Time on my hands could be time spent with you."
-- Elton John, "I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues"

4. Weeks two through six ...
"This is my fight song. Take-back-my-life song. Prove-I'm-alright song
My power's turned on. Starting right now, I'll be strong."
-- Rachel Platten, "This is My Fight Song"

5. Third Month
"Please Mr. Postman, look and see, is there a letter, a letter for me?"
-- The Marvelettes, "Please Mr. Postman"

But also this one ...
"He drinks a whiskey drink. He drinks a vodka drink. He drinks a lager drink. He drinks a cider drink."
-- (Kidding!)

"I get knocked down. But I get up again. You're never going to keep me down."
-- Chumbawumba, "Tubthumping"

And maybe also this one ...
"But here in Topeka the rain is a fallin', the faucet is a drippin' and the kids are a bawlin'. One of 'em a toddlin' and one is a crawlin', And one's on the way."
-- Loretta Lynn, "One's On The Way"

6. Months four through the end
"Been gophering, chauffeuring, company chairman. Coffee maker, copy repairman.
Anymore there ain't nothing I swear man that I don't do."
-- Kenny Chesney, "Woman With You"

And these two songs ...
"Been far away for far too long."
-- Nickelback, "Far Away"

"I put away the groceries. And I take my daily bread. I dream of your arms around me. As I tuck the kids in bed."
-- SheDaisy, "Come Home Soon"

And maybe also this one ...
"But here in Topeka, the screen door's a bangin'. The coffee's boilin' over and the wash needs a hangin'. One wants a cookie and one wants a changin'. And one's on the way."
-- Loretta Lynn, "One's On The Way"

7. The last week
"So tired, tired of waiting, tired of waiting for you."
-- The Kinks, "Tired of Waiting"

And this one ...
"I know it's wrong to be so far from home. I know it's wrong to leave you so alone. I've just got to getcha this good job done."
-- Ray LaMontagne, "Three More Days"

But possibly also this one ...
"Here in Topeka, the flies are a buzzin'. The dog is a barkin' and the floor needs a scrubbin'. One needs a spankin' and one needs a huggin'. Lord, one's on the way. Oh gee, I hope it ain't twins, again!"
-- Loretta Lynn, "One's On The Way"

8. Homecoming Day
"I wanna rock some sheet rock. Knock some pictures off the wall. Love you baby like a wrecking ball."
-- Eric Church, "Like a Wrecking Ball"

**Bonus Track -- Two weeks later
"Now what was I doin'? Jimmy get away from there! Darn, there goes the phone. Hello honey, what's that you say? You're bringin' a few old A rmy buddies home? You're callin' from a bar? Get away from there! No, not you honey. I was talkin' to the baby. Wait a minute, honey, the doorbell. Honey, could you stop at the market and ... Hello? Hello? Well, I'll be ..."
-- Loretta Lynn, "One's On The Way"

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Rebekah Sanderlin Family and Spouse Deployment

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Rebekah Sanderlin is an Army wife, a mother of three and a professional writer. Her work has been published numerous places, including The Washington Post, The New York Times, National Public Radio, CNN, and in Self and Maxim magazines. She currently serves on the advisory boards of the Military Family Advisory Network and Blue Star Families.

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