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The Longest Day

Discussion in 'A Matter Of Life And Death' started by Anonymous, Aug 30, 2006.

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How good is The Longest Day on a scale of 1-10?

  1. 10

    25.9%
  2. 9

    22.2%
  3. 8

    25.9%
  4. 7

    14.8%
  5. 6

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  6. 5

    3.7%
  7. 4

    7.4%
  8. 3

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  9. 2

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  10. 1

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  1. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

          In the gloom the gathering storm abates
          In the ships gimlet eyes await
          The call to arms to hammer at the gates
          To blow them wide, throw evil to its fate

          All summer's long the drills to build the machine
          To turn men from flesh and blood to steel
          From paper soldiers to bodies on the beach
          From summer sands to Armageddon's reach

          Overlord, your master not your god
          The enemy coast dawning grey with scud
          These wretched souls puking, shaking fear
          To take a bullet for those who sent them here

          The world's alight, the cliffs erupt in flames
          No escape, remorseless shrapnel rains
          Drowning men, no chance for a warrior's fate
          A choking death, enter hell's gates

          Sliding we go, only fear on our side
          To the edge of the wire and we rush with the tide
          Oh the water is red with the blood of the dead
          But I'm still alive, pray to God I survive

                How long on this longest day 'til we finally make it through
                How long on this longest day 'til we finally make it through
                How long on this longest day 'til we finally make it through
                How long on this longest day 'til we finally make it through

          The rising dead, faces bloated torn
          They are relieved, the living wait their turn
          Your number's up, the bullet's got your name
          You still go on, to hell and back again

          Valhalla waits, valkyries rise and fall
          The warrior tombs lie open for us all
          A ghostly hand reaches through the veil
          Blood and sand, we will prevail

          Sliding we go, only fear on our side
          To the edge of the wire and we rush with the tide
          Oh the water is red with the blood of the dead
          But I'm still alive, pray to God I survive

                How long on this longest day 'til we finally make it through
                How long on this longest day 'til we finally make it through
                How long on this longest day 'til we finally make it through
                How long on this longest day 'til we finally make it through

          (5:18 – Solo: Adrian Smith)
          (6:21 – Solo: Dave Murray)

                How long on this longest day 'til we finally make it through
                How long on this longest day 'til we finally make it through
                How long on this longest day 'til we finally make it through
                How long on this longest day 'til we finally make it through


    Discuss...
     
  2. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    Re: 'The Longest Day'

    I like the two alternating moods of this one - the dark ominous parts (Overlord, your master not your god; The enemy coast dawning grey with scud; These wretched souls puking, shaking fear; To take a bullet for those who sent them here) bring imagery of everyone crowded onto the landing craft. Then, "Enter Hell's gates!!" as the ramp falls down.

    The mood and music changes - "Sliding we go..." etc., makes me think of the soldiers emerging from the boats and moving their way on shore among the carnage.

    Lastly, I like the reference to "Overlord", being of course Operation OVERLORD, the actual name of the invasion. (In military operations, "D-day" is a generic term that describes the day that combat is to be initiated, but since OVERLORD is the most famous and important of them all, the D-day of OVERLORD has become known as simply "D-Day".)
     
  3. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    Re: 'The Longest Day'

    I'm waiting for a LooseCannon post.
     
  4. Genghis Khan

    Genghis Khan Ancient Mariner

    Re: 'The Longest Day'

    This could very well be a song they play live continously, maybe even after Passchendaele.  I enjoy this song, but I prefer the latter more as I feel it is more atmospheric and emotional.  Some may disagree obviously  -_-.

    I'm waiting for a long historical background on D-Day from LooseCannon, too.  ^_^
     
  5. Anomica

    Anomica Trooper

    Re: 'The Longest Day'

    As in These colours don't run, there's something about the lyrics of this song, and Bruce's way to sing them, that creates images in my head. He sings about the stuff of nightmares, really, but oh how well he does it. The build-up that becomes stronger and stronger and then explodes in the "Sliding we go...".
    Love this song, love the lyrics, love the riffs, the drums. What's not to like ;)
     
  6. Yax

    Yax Ancient Mariner

    Re: 'The Longest Day'

    It's in that way Bruce's very much alike Rob Halford, as a lyricist. Rob Halford's goal and objective with his lyrics are to create images and make you think you are in a cinema watching a movie. Bruce does in a similar way and make you think you are there, not as a spectator, but as a part of the story. Well, the song is indeed brilliant and the vocal melodies catched me and left me astonished, staring at my computermonitor (I couldn't resist listen to it before the release, which was yesterday. I'm weak, I know!  ^_^ This was an edit, how I formulated it before was incorrect.)

    Adrian's solo is currently my all time favourite from his part, it's so precise and well though out (as usual). Everything is perfect and there is only one way to make me like it even more. And that would be a collaboration with Rob Halford as a second lead vocalist on one verse on the song, and as a backingvocalist in the chorus. But hey, you can't have it all, can you? It's still a 10/10 song...(I hate grading songs, but I have to with this one)
     
  7. Anomica

    Anomica Trooper

    Re: 'The Longest Day'

    Rob Halford? Hmm...I never thought of that, actually. I loved Priest until Defenders of the faith. After that album I stopped listening to them and today, if I listen to Priest, it's the old ones like Rocka Rolla, Sad wings..., and Screaming for vengeance. But I honestly don't listen to Priest more than once or twice a month, at the most. To me, the don't have the "grown-up appeal" as Maiden. In my early teens, I thought Priest was the better band, but as I've grown older Priest feels more like "sins of my youth" :p Maybe I should dig out my old vinyls of JP and look through the lyrics (I'm old enough never to have bought Priest on CD :D) Dreamer Deceiver was always a good story telling I suppose...
     
  8. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    Re: 'The Longest Day'

    I'm waiting for any historian to pull his finger out and write something about the D-Day.
     
  9. Raven

    Raven Ancient Mariner

    Re: 'The Longest Day'

    'Pull his finger out'?  You posted it two days ago, and the album isn't even released in the US!  You could at least be a little more patient.... :D
     
  10. LooseCannon

    LooseCannon Self-propelled artillery Staff Member

    Re: 'The Longest Day'

    *cracks knuckles*

    Noticing some requests?  Alright.  Let's give 'er a try.  I'm going to start by saying that this, along with The Legacy, is my favourite song off the new album.  As I am a historian, of World War 2 in particular (at least, till the last 2 years), this song...strikes.  It's poignant, and it drew tears first time I heard it completely (you know, first time I could follow the lyrics).  As far as analyzing the song goes, I'd like to suggest that you consider it divided into two sections, each with a different lyrical mood.

    The first section is the verses before the first chorus.  Each line related to the physical events of June 6th, 1944, and as such, as a historian, I'll be able to delve into more detail on those lines than on the second set.  The second section is far more subjective, with different metaphors for death being tossed in.  These, in themselves, are interesting, and thus, will draw some scrutiny as well.

    Of course, we must, first discuss what "the longest day" was, for those who might be confused as to the origin of this song.  "The longest day" is a term applied in popular culture to June 6th, 1944, D-day for Operation Neptune.  Operation Neptune was the lodgement phase of a larger plan known, famously, as Operation Overlord.  Operation Overlord was the largest and most complex military operation ever undertaken, consisting of millions of soldiers, sailors and air personel.  Such was the nature of Operations Neptune and Overlord that the formerly common term D-Day (used in other amphibious operations like Torch, Husky, and Avalanche) refers now to only June 6th in popular culture.

    As the apex of Operation Overlord, Operation Neptune was focused entirely on obtaining a beachhead along the Normandy coastline from which the Allied armies of the United States, Great Britain, and Canada could operate towards the goal of expelling the Nazi Germans from occupied France, and then driving east to link hands with the Soviets somewhere in central Europe.  Overlord was overseen by General Dwight D. Eisenhower.  Field-Marshal Bernard L. Montgomery was in direct command of the invasion.

    The Neptune/Overlord plan was created by the Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF) in 1943 after a 1943 invasion plan had been abandoned by the Western Allies.  SHAEF originally planned for three seaborne divisions and an airborne division to sieze a beachhead in Normandy, then proceed towards Cherbourg from whence Allied reinforcements could be landed.  In mid 1943, Montgomery was brought in at the request of the British to command the actual landing.

    Monty expanded the plan to five seaborne and three airborne divisions, to be provided from the three largest Western Allies.  The United States contributed four divisions, the British three, and the Canadians one.  Two of the American units were airborne divisions, as were one of the British.  The Canadian 3rd Infantry division was placed under British command for the invasion.

    The three major participants in the invasion, along with five other countries, provided 7,000 ships to transport the soldiers from Britain to France.  Some 1400 of these ships were warships to provide direct fire support to the landing forces, including massive battleships of the Royal and United States Navies.  Cruiser support was also provided by the British, mainly, as was the main force of destroyer escorts.

    The airforce, again, was multinational, and is one of, if not the largest, assemblance of airpower ever.  14,000 aircraft flew tens of thousands of sortees on June 6th, 1944.  These aircraft were of all available nationalities and types - Spitfires, Hurricanes, Lancasters, Typhoons, Halifaxes, Thunderbolts, Flying Fortresses, Liberators, Dakotas, Beaufighters - and flew missions as varied as diversionary raids near Calais, through to strafing runs across the beaches, and carpet bombing known German positions.

    Montgomery's expanded plan for the invasion of Western Europe specified that the three airborne divisions would be used to protect the flanks of the five seaborne divisions.  From East to West, landing were the 6th Airborne Division (UK), the 3rd Infantry Division (UK), the 3rd Infantry Division (Canada), the 50th Infantry Division (UK), the 1st Infantry Division (USA), the 4th Infantry Division (USA), the 101st Airborne Division (USA), and the 82nd Airborne Division (USA).  Famously, the seaborne divisions landed at a series of codenamed beaches: Sword, Juno, Gold, Omaha, and Utah.

    Troops assembled on airstrips and at port on June 4th, 1944, only to find that due to miserable weather, the invasion had been postponed.  Weather ships flung out into the Atlantic had recorded incoming storms that were expected to make a landing impossible.  Eisenhower and Montgomery were rather panicked.  If the storms postponed the invasion, their two-day landing window would vanish, and they'd have to wait until the next full moon.  However, those same weather ships later reported a brief improvement for the next day.  And so, on June 5th, 1944, some 2 million soldiers, sailors, and airmen prepared to launch Operation Overlord.

    This weather delay proved to the great advantage of the Allies.  The Germans were well aware of the advantage of a fullmoon, and since they believed that the poor weather would continue, they expected no invasion that month.  Most senior officers (such as Army Group B commander Feldmarschall Erwin Rommel) were complacent, or took leaves of absence from the front.  The first soldiers - glider assault troops of the 6th British Airborne - touched down in France at approximately 12:16 AM, June 6th.

    Operation Tonga, the British airborne landings, went off without many hitches.  The unit secured its major objectives, Pegasus Bridge and the Merville gun battery, securing the east edge of the beachhead from enemy counterattack.  Operation Chicago, the American air landings on the western edge, were botched.  Both divisions of paratroopers were badly scattered by inexperienced C-47 pilots, and the units were unable to rally completely.    Some historians consider the apparent failure of Operation Chicago to have contributed to the success of Overlord, however.  The widespread and ferocious nature of the elite American paratroopers caused great distress and damage to the communications of German seafront divisions, including the slaying of Generalmajor Wilhelm Falley, the commander of the 91st Luftlande Division before he was even aware of the invasion.

    The five beachheads were forged with varying degrees of difficulty.  The 709th Infantry Division, assaulted in the early hours of the morning by the 4th American Infantry, surrendered swiftly - many soldiers were Soviet POWs who had enlisted in the Wehrmacht rather than be starved to death in concentration camps.  The 716th Infantry Division was engaged by the lead elements of the Anglo-Canadian army, battered back by the 50th and 3rd British Infantry Divisions, and pierced in the centre by the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division, which occupied more of its D-Day objectives than any other seaborne force.

    Omaha Beach was deadly for the 1st US Infantry Division.  Omaha Beach had recently been reinforced by the 352nd Infantry Division, a unit that had seen combat on the Russian Front for over 2 years, and was full of tough veterans.  The bunkers of the beach were not destroyed by enfilade seafire, as per the plan - some gun batteries were not even marked on the otherwise complete Allied maps.  The amphibious tanks accompanying the assault force capsised and sank in the rougher seas off Omaha Beach.  The LCIs (Landing Craft Infantry) that neared Omaha Beach foundered on sandbars and many soldiers lost their weapons and equipment while trying to wade ashore - all in the face of savage, brutal machine gun fire.

    The official record of the US 1st Infantry Division states that the opening wave was devastated by the German resistance, and that nearly every officer and sergeant was killed or wounded before reaching the beach.  The Americans pressed on, however, using the Bangalore torpedo to clear German bunkers and blockades.  Eventually the beach was captured, at the cost of 2,500 casualties in only a handful of hours.

    Operation Overlord continued after June 6th, with a massive logistical effort in place to land and supply the millions of men of the Allied Expeditionary Force.  The British and Canadians blunted savage counterattacks by the German Panzer divisions over the next week, and then pressed on Caen, while the Americans cleared the rough bocage countryside of the Cotenin Peninsula.  Stagnation eventually set in, but a strong push by the Anglo-Canadians drew away the German armour to near Caen, again - and then the Americans broke out of Normandy in Operation Cobra, racing across the ground known as Falaise and nearly capturing the entire German army in France.

    The Allies liberated Paris on August 25th, 1944.


    And now, the lyrics.

    The first line of this verse refers to the storm that postponed the invasion one day, from June 5th to June 6th.  Gloom at being unable to invade would certainly have filled the troops upon notice of the postponement.  The better weather promised for June 6th was this abating - ironically, enough to allow another sort of storm to begin.

    The second line refers to the men in the troopships.  Gimlet is a term that means "to penetrate or bore through", and in this case, it must refer to the eyes of the soldiers waiting to land.  These men were given a task that some believed was impossible - to pierce Hitler's Atlantic Wall and begin the reconquest of Europe.  Yet they performed their duty admirably, amazingly.  Such determination (among other emotions) must have shown in their eyes.

    The final two lines are rather self-explanatory.  The Wehrmacht was in great trouble in Russia, but generals there had been able to stabalize the situation time and time again.  It was an unknown if Hitler had another trick up his sleeve, even if modern-day historians believe that the Russians would have finished the Germans on their own.  Nevertheless, the Second Front was demanded by Stalin, and it was to be the beginning of the end for the Third Reich - an evil empire if ever there has been one.

    The first three lines of this verse refer to the endless preparation that went into Operation Overlord.  Training exercise after training exercise occured from the beginning of decent weather in the spring - not to mention the general training the men had taken part in before they hit the beach.  However, the lines seem to suggest this training being important to the making of men as soldiers.  The Americans who landed at Normandy were "green" troops - the Anglo-Canadians veterans.  That suggests this song is being looked at from the USA point of view.

    The final line of the verse refers to the transference of five beaches where families often went, in times of peace (both then and now) for recreation, for swimming, and for fun, to a place of absolute hell on earth.

    This verse is somewhat out of context to the others.  There can be no doubt as to the fear the landing soldiers must have felt, and that seems to be the point of the final two lines of this verse - as well as alluding to the chronic sickness felt in the landing ship and craft.  Similarly, a faint pointlessness of death in war is shown in the last verse.

    The first two lines refer to the prevalence of Operation Overlord, and the old epithet that there are no atheists in a foxhole, nor apparently, a landing craft.  And finally, the grey, foggy appearence of enemy-held shore and clifflines.

    The Germans have spotted the incoming landing craft, and they have opened fire.  Artillery - the dreaded 88mm anti-aircraft guns, 105mm artillery, and mortars, machine guns - MG 34s and 42s, and rifle-fire must have caused the cliffs overseeing the beach to seem burning, angry and hot.  The shells were anti-personel, designed to create shrapnel and kill as many men as possible.

    Landing craft bucked in the wash of the sea and the concussion of explosion, capsised, and were sunk.  Men were drug down by the undertow and the weight of their equipment, drowning before they even had a chance to reach land - many never to be seen again, dead or alive.

    And then the ramp drops, and hell has found earth.

    The mention of cliffs suggests to me that we're following the plight of the Big Red One, the 1st US Infantry Division, as they hit the beaches of Omaha - or possibly the Rangers that famously, self-sacrificing, captured a small outcropping known as Pointe du Hoc.  Both places had strong, stiff German resistance, and both places inflicted high casualties on the assaulting forces.

    The first line of this verse refers to how men got ashore - slipping, sliding, and dragging their waterlogged kit through the surf.  Dashing ashore was almost impossible.  Most men had to walk or crawl ashore due to the extra water and sand they had absorbed into their clothing and gear, sliding back down against the ocean's slope.  Unable to run forward, with nowhere to go backwards, of course they were filled with fear.

    The second line refers to the wire that dominated the edge of the beaches.  Many times, especially at Omaha, the Allies had to lie in the water and creep forward with the rising tide (rushing with it) till they were in range of the German wire with Bangalore torpedos and satchel charges, which they then used to blast holes in the enemy lines.  Famously, the third line refers to the red seawater of Omaha Beach, filled with the blood of the dead and dying.

    And who wouldn't pray on such a place of death and devastation?

    I shan't mention the chorus, as it's rather self-explanatory.

    As I previously mentioned, this mostly refers to a hell of a lot of different ways to describe almost certain death.  The only exception is the final line.  As I stated earlier, I expect this song is about the American landings, and likely at Omaha, where they were forced to advance so slowly.  Leaderless, the American forces still pierced the German defences, prevailing against what must have seemed like all odds.  The next waves of soldiers were able to take up the torch, and push forward, to slowly, steadily begin the defeat of the Nazis.

    The Greatest Generation, indeed.
     
  11. Re: 'The Longest Day'

    :eek: WOW i can see way you guys were waiting
    Nice history lesson Loosecannon  ^_^
     
  12. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    Re: 'The Longest Day'

    Agreed!
    That was incredible!
     
  13. Anomica

    Anomica Trooper

    Re: 'The Longest Day'

    With someone like LooseCannon to tell us the facts around the lyrics, it becomes almost embarassing to post my own views on certain issues :ok: Great explanation, thank you.
     
  14. Raven

    Raven Ancient Mariner

    Re: 'The Longest Day'

    As usual, LooseCannon, you demonstrate why you get first choice of the long posts on War-themed Maiden numbers. :ok:
     
  15. ABandOn

    ABandOn .:The Final Frontier:.

    Re: 'The Longest Day'

    The richness of details about those events left me without words...great explanation, LooseCannon  -_-
     
  16. Genghis Khan

    Genghis Khan Ancient Mariner

    Re: 'The Longest Day'

    I agree with all posts on LooseCannon's historical knowledge.

    I see in my head clips of 'Saving Private Ryan' when I read some lines.  Gripping!

         
    The fear shown here is palpable in both the song and the scene where they wait in transporter before reaching the beach.

    And...

         
    As soon as the gates opened the soldiers were fired upon by Nazis on top of cliffs. 

    This whole song is chilling in its vivid imagery and melancholy in its longing for the day to be over.
    The more I hear the song, the more I like it. 
    I think I'll rent the movie "The Longest Day" now.  It is supposed to be good.
     
  17. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    Re: 'The Longest Day'

    If I'd had a history teacher like LooseCannon I might've bothered to do homework. Fortunately I came away with a love of history anyway.
     
  18. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    Re: 'The Longest Day'

    That was one of the best posts I've ever seen on an internet forum. I quite like the song, I absolutely love the buildup and the lyrics are unreal, and I understand them more now thanks to that post....I've always been interested in World War II for some reason, so I enjoyed reading that.
     
  19. LooseCannon

    LooseCannon Self-propelled artillery Staff Member

    Re: 'The Longest Day'

    Thanks to anyone who said nice things, I just hope I can help people understand these few songs of Maiden actually rooted in a solid event.
     
  20. Forostar

    Forostar Conjure the Death Star again

    Re: 'The Longest Day'

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tgvAI8Cdkyg&eurl=

    It's not an official Iron Maiden video, but it looks cool and a better visualization, belonging to this subject, is not possible!

    This opening scene is the most realistic aspect of Saving Private Ryan and probably the most realistic visualization of D-Day in cinema.
     

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