Wooden Ships (6:22)

Cover of Volunteers

From Volunteers and 24 other releases

“Wooden Ships” is composed by David Crosby, lyrics by Stephen Stills and Paul Kantner in the late 1969, on Crosby’s boat in Florida. It was released on the album Volunteers, the same year. It was controversial at the time because of anti-war message.

The song depicts the horrors confronting the survivors of a nuclear holocaust in which the two sides have annihilated each other. A man from one side stumbles upon a man from the other side and asks him “Who won?” To stay alive, they share berries that have presumably not been poisoned by radiation. The lyrics beg “silver people on the shoreline” to “let us be”; these are commonly held to be men wearing radiation suits. As wooden ships carry the survivors away, radiation kills those who have not made it aboard:

Horror grips us as we watch you die
All we can do is echo your anguished cries
Stare as all human feelings die…

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