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The song is sung from the perspective of a gung-ho young man who has been drafted. When he reports for duty, however, the young man recites a list of reasons why he can't serve, including poor vision, flat feet, a ruptured spleen, allergies and asthma, back pain, addiction to multiple drugs, his college enrollment, his disabled aunt, and the fact that he carries a purse. (One historian of the draft resistance movement wrote that Ochs "described nearly every available escape from conscription".) As the song ends, the young man tells the sergeant that he'll be the first to volunteer for "a war without blood or gore".

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