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Travis John

Travis John

written by Kate Power
lyrics
Travis John Travis John
Vocal: Kate Power
from the album Pearls

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Travis John (The Return) Travis John (The Return)
Vocal: Steve Einhorn
from the album Brick & Mortar

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Featured on Oregon Art Beat on OPB:

Kate Power Song About Travis John

Kate Power Song About Travis John

One of Kate Power's songs took on a life of its own.

An award winning song to the cost of war in one man's voice, "Travis John" from an Oregon soldier to his family. "Pearls, the Tribute Collection" was created in memory of Travis John Bradach-Nall, the boy from northeast Portland, Oregon and down the street, who answered the call to Iraq at the age of 21.

Grand prize winner from Music2Life at the Kerrville Folk Festival 2006, Noel Paul Stookey of Peter, Paul & Mary and an iconic panel of judges for the Public Domain Foundation awarded "Travis John" as a song that makes a difference. The cash award was donated in Travis' name to Adopt-a-Minefield toward the elimination of landmines in war torn countries, a cause now championed by Travis' mother, Lynn Bradach, in memory of her son.

Travis John transcription

"Travis John" was written the day that Travis John, our young neighbor, was laid to rest in Portland, Oregon. The song rose to become an anthem for peace in the voice of one young soldier. The song caught the ear of the grandfather of folk, Pete Seeger, who bought copies to share with friends, including Bruce Springsteen, and fellow peace activists. It has been used as the soundtrack in the documentary "Military Families Speak Out: Oregon"; inspired a ballet choregraphed by Josie Mosely for the Oregon Ballet Theatre and danced by Patrick Kilbane. It has been arranged for choral shape-note singing and is widely sung at peace marches, vigils, funerals and singalongs by people from diverse backgrounds and political views around the country.

The song "Travis John" is dedicated to peace through the memory of Corporal Travis John Bradach-Nall.
THE STORY
Travis John Bradach-Nall lived in our neighborhood. He graduated in our son's high school class. He joined the marines for noble reasons. Travis was killed by a land mine in Iraq on July 2, 2003. He was 21 years old.

We are all connected in the fabric of life. When we heard of Travis' death, it felt like the death of one of our own. He joined the marines to be the best he could be in troubled times. The oldest boy in his family with his mother, Lynn and his brother, Nic, Travis had everything a parent could hope for in a son. It was terrible to lose him with his whole life still waiting for him.

Deep in the Wallowa Mountains of eastern Oregon I wrote this song. I was teaching at a writer's retreat with Steve. It was July 10, 2003. I remember because I'm one of eight children and that's my mother's birthday. I was sad about what had happend to Travis and his family.  His memorial was being held back home in Portland that day. The newspaper said 7 limousines carried the members of his large family to the gravesite. Playing on my banjo with the deer grazing near me outside the cabin, the song started coming and didn't stop until the words were finished two hours later.

This song came from Travis, it is his song and it' s sung in his voice. I just sang it out loud for him. Whichever side of war you stand on, the same deep loss is felt on both sides for our young lost soldiers. We give this song to Travis' mother, Lynn and his brother, Nic, along with the rest of his kin in the Bradach clan who loved him and will miss him at the table.
Steve and I recorded this song on August 3, 2003 at Big Red Studio in Corbett at the mouth of the Columbia Gorge. When we returned to the studio shortly after recording "Travis John", the owner-engineer, Billy Oskay, told us that Travis' uncle Frank, a contractor had called him after hearing word about the song. Frank had coincidentally built Billy's recording studio and called Billy to remind him that Travis had been on his crew and had actually helped him build "Big Red Studio" board by board just a few short years before. Billy was stunned as he suddenly remembered Travis well; hammer in hand and a grin on his face, and only then put it together that the two Travis' were one and the same. He remembered that he was a good worker with a great attitude.
The song grew fast and in ways we couldn't have predicted. We came full circle when we recorded this song in the same studio that Travis helped to build. We felt shepherded by Travis to unwittingly return to the place he had built and where  we sang and recorded his song to give to the world in his name.

We hope that Travis John's song will help those who hear it to remember the lives of loved ones lost trying to make a difference for peace.  We sing it as an anthem and a prayer that the lives of future generations will find ways beyond war to live in peace with equanimity, liberty and justice for all.
THE LYRICS
Under a foreign sky,
My fate awaits me
There but for God go I;
Do not forsake me.
I am a boy, full of promise,
Full of freedom
And now the joy
Is dead and done
I am gone...

Before the western sea,
My home was in the valley.
There with my family
I took to manhood early.
I was the one
My brother called,
My mother looked to me,
Her fine, strong son;
And now the joy
Is dead and done
I am gone...

Finding my way to go,
The call that I should answer
My country's own hero,
Like music to the dancer.
I am a boy, full of promise,
Full of freedom
And now the joy
Is dead and done
I am gone...

Under a weeping willow tree
You planted roses.
There in my memory
Where my eternal ghost is.
I was a boy, full of promise
Full of freedom;
And now the joy
Is dead and done
I am gone...