One of my favorite songs to perform from my new album – Outlaws and Bystanders – is Dogs of War, which is the story of Mark Antony’s funeral speech (plus a passage from his speech to Caesar’s corpse) from the Shakespeare play, Julius Caesar. It’s packed with emotion as Antony, grieved over the loss of his king, vows revenge on those who committed the murder.
Then he speaks to the crowd at Caesar’s funeral – allowed to do so by the powers that be (the very murderers, themselves) because they feel secure that Antony cannot, even if he tried, stir the crowd to any kind of retaliatory action. But boy-howdy, were THEY wrong. Antony, armed only with words, turns an angry crowd completely around. And he does so without really overtly seeming to call for a revolt. He basically says: “I’m just a guy who is here not to say anything great about Caesar (“I come not to praise Caesar, but to bury him”), because it’s obvious how great a guy he was.” Pretty sly, huh? He goes on, “Oh, you didn’t know? OK, well then let me clue you in about the awesome things this man did for you. Surely if you had really known what an awesome guy he really was (and modest too, apparently), you’d be pretty pissed off that he was murdered by the guys he thought he could trust. Anyone with any honor who had known would want revenge. Oh, you do have honor? And now you know? Wow. Well I’m not good with words (shya! – like saying “unaccustomed as I am to public speaking….”), but if I were the kind of guy who COULD find the right words in a situation like this, then I’d pretty much call for the people to revolt against these bastards!” (“Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war!”)
Lisa Theriot wrote this song. In the liner notes, she describes the song like this: “we thought we’d borrow from Shakespeare again. It is the ides of March, and Caesar has been murdered. His loyal man, Mark Antony, vows to Caesar’s bloody corpse that the killers will pay, but Antony is alone and weaponless. All he has are his words.” Yup. Because everyone knows how ineffective as weapons words can be as weapons;).
Hear the song below:
For information on the songs, along with lyrics, you can download a pdf of the liner notes here: Outlaws and Bystanders Liner Notes
Buy Outlaws and Bystanders (or individual songs from the album) here:
If you would like to hear the songs all the way through (rather than just the 30-second samples on CD Baby), stop by the album page on Reverb Nation – Click Here.