"Billy Don't Be A Hero" is a 1974 anti-war pop song by Paper Lace and was also recorded by Bo Donaldson and the Heywoods. It was written by Mitch Murray and Peter Callander.
Because the song was released in 1974, it is often associated with the Vietnam War, though it actually refers to the American Civil War as evidenced by the "soldier blues" (the Union Forces) in the lyrics and on the cover of the single album. Also, a 1974 music video shows the band performing in Union uniforms. A young woman is distraught that her fiancé chooses to leave the area with an Army contingent passing through the town and go with them to fight. She laments,
"Billy, don't be a hero! Don't be a fool with your life!
"Billy, don't be a hero! Come back and make me your wife!
"And as Billy started to go, she said, 'Keep your pretty head low!'
"Billy, don't be a hero! Come back to me!"
The song goes on to describe how Billy is killed in action in a pitched battle after volunteering to ride out and seek reinforcements (which suggests mounted infantry and a lack of modern two-way radio communications). In the end, the woman throws away the regret letter from the War Department notifying her of Billy's "heroic" death.
Billboard Top 10 - 1974
01. The Way We Were » Barbra Streisand
02. Seasons In The Sun » Terry Jacks
03. Love's Theme » Love Unlimited Orchestra
04. Come And Get Your Love » Redbone
05. Dancing Machine » Jackson 5
06. The Loco-Motion » Grand Funk Railroad
07. TSOP » MFSB
08. The Streak » Ray Stevens
09. Bennie And The Jets » Elton John
10. One Hell Of A Woman » Mac Davis
21. Billy Don't Be A Hero » Bo Donaldson & The Heywoods
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