Not the Red Baron
Not Charlie Brown
think I got the message figured
another pilot down
and are their devils with halos
in beautiful capes
taking them into the flames
Not Judy G
Not Jean Jean Jean with a hallowed heart
I see that screen go
down in the flames
with every step
with every beautiful heel pointed
Not the Red Baron I'm sure
Not Charlie's wonderful dog
not anyone I really know
just another pilot down
maybe I'll just sing him a last little sound
many there know some girls with red ribbons
The turning point [on Boys for Pele] was the song "Not the Red Baron," which was sparked by romantic difficulties that she saw her road crew experiencing.
That's the moment when I began to have compassion for boys again. There was no joy anymore when I saw guys in my crew crashing and burning over their love for a girl who was just urinating all over them. And I went, "Oh, I've just been on the other side of this." Whatever the realization, in that moment it was compassion that made me want to wipe the hair off their brow and give them a Guiness. That was always a popular move!
My crew teaches me a lot. They recorded this album live with me. And though I would be having battles on different fronts, the road crew would let me into this world of boys, where it was safe and I could see it from their side of things. [The Boston Globe - Jan 19, 1996]
"Not the Red Baron" was a B-side, but really got, she slipped in there. She slipped in and kicked another one off because... it was a compassion for the men. "Not the Red Baron" holds so much compassion for the boys for me because as they're going down in their planes, and they're crashing. And as I started to see in some of the relationships with the men, how when it was their turn to crash, their turn to scream, their turn to face the pain. At that point I didn't want to kick 'em in the nuts anymore. And there was nothing I could do, 'cause I was going through mine and they were going through theirs and sometimes all you can do is just pat them on the head and give them a Guiness. Yet this song really became about... [sings] "and are there devils with halos and beautiful capes, taking them into the flames, taking them into the flames." And I saw these lovely women ushering the men with the tears to their next place. Always connected to fire, always all of us trying to find our own fire. [World Cafe - March 1, 1996]
Then, of course, in the record we move into a whole other moment. "Not the Red Baron" is the moment of compassion for all the men on the record. It's where I could see their planes crashing, I could see that they have a side too. And if their planes would crash I started to gain compassion for their side of it. But I'm still acknowledging the war with "Agent Orange," the idea of the war. [B-Side - May/June 1996]
Tori's sound engineer Mark Hawley said:
No demos were done for any of the songs on Pele. Basically, two or three songs on the album and many of the B-sides were written as you hear them there. "Marianne" and "Not the Red Baron" -- the first time she ever played them and the first time we ever heard them was the performance that you hear. The whole recording process was really special for that reason. [B-Side - May/June 1996]
"Not the Red Baron"
July 12, 1996 - Oakland, California
"Not the Red Baron"
November 3, 2001 - Dallas, Texas