Burning Bridges by Mike Curb Congregation - Songfacts

Burning Bridges

Album: Kelly's Heroes Soundtrack (1970)
Charted: 34
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Songfacts®:

  • This was the theme song of the 1970 Clint Eastwood comedy Kelly's Heroes. The film is a typical example of Eastwood's deadpan humor; Kelly is an American soldier who discovers a horde of gold bars stashed in a bank behind enemy lines, so he recruits a group of renegades to rob it. The song bears no real relation to the film although it could be interpreted as a former soldier reminiscing about the good old days of the war. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Alexander Baron - London, England

Comments: 27

  • Jarod Strain from Kentucky For all the squabbling about who did what in World War II it seems that everyone is committed to less than half of the story.

    Long before the US entered the war, a result of Pearl Harbor, Japan had invaded many nations, as had Germany.

    The Russian front was quite heartless for Germany. Despite the Russians having many times more losses than Germany, they could not overcome the same thing that no army has overcome. "It's f--king Russia." The Soviet Winter was the only thing that kept Germany out of Moscow. And whether the US entered the war or not it is doubtful that Germany could have ever overcome Russia. It is possible; but doubtful, strictly due to geography.

    What Russia did do is buy Europe a lot of time. By the time the US entered the war, Britain was on the brink of collapse. Germany had never been able to muster its full force against the European allies because of the divided front. If Russia hadn't been in the war, Britain and the rest of Europe would all but certainly have fallen to Germany before the US entered. Likewise, had Germany not been so foolish to create war on two fronts, they would have rolled over Europe and then had their full forces available to attack Russia. In this sense, Germany defeated itself.

    People also seem to forget that the United States, before entering World War II, was providing the Allied forces in Europe an awful lot of hardware and and resources. There were even American naval ships on loan to Britain and squadrons of American (volunteer) fighter pilots in service to Britain.

    There is little question that the United States entering the war is what turned the tide in favor of the allies for the first time. There was no way Germany could overcome, the moment America hit European beaches. That fact does not diminish the efforts that the allies, including Russia, made prior to the US entering the war.
    The continued efforts on the eastern front kept German forces divided when they could no longer afford to be. And the transfer of resources from the Eastern front to address American forces, diminished German capacity enough for the Soviets to break their lines. For the Allies, getting to Berlin to just that; Allies.

    To go a hypothetical step farther, had the allies fallen before the US entered the war, then it is questionable whether or not the US could have defeated Germany. At that point Germany would have the resources of all of Europe at their disposal.

    Unlike Germany, Japan was nearly uncontested in the Pacific. There were a few British naval operations which included Australia's small navy, but nothing that could compete with Japan. The sheer irony for Japan is, had they not attacked the US, they likely would have held the Pacific, but not for long.

    The major difficulty facing Japan was resources. The nation is an island smaller than the state of California. The resources they needed to try to expand an Empire belonged to other countries, including US territories. A large portion of their war machine was actually built with materials that they acquired in occupied China. But eventually those resources would have diminished.

    If Germany had won Europe, Japan could have remained uncontested in the Pacific. If Germany lost, then European nations would have turned their attention to Japan. By attacking the US, Japan ended any chance that any of the Axis Powers had of victory.
  • Brady6 from ClevelandInteresting fact: The theme song was not released as a single, until almost six months after the movie premiered. It cracked Billboards top 40 the week before Christmas 1970. It should have been nominated for movie song of the year. It would not have beaten “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head”, but it was certainly superior to the other four nominees.
  • George Arif from Orange NswMy favourite song
  • Cactus Pete from VancouverGreat Song! Great Movie!
  • Jimmy Mylonas from Pretoria,south Africaabsolutely brilliant song & production.Strange,though how a song with a clear hippy ethos & sound, appears in a war movie. haha
  • Bonnie from TeaxsI just hope this was just a aong for the movie. Otherwise it is the saddest thing I have ever heard
  • Saint Cyr from MichiganThis song is about Regret, Realization & Resignation. No wonder that i like it
  • Mary Jenkinson from UkGreat anthem! Reminds me of my childhood with my family so nostalgic!!
    Watched the film Kelly’s Heroes many times. My two boys 14 and 8 loved this movie. Remember watching with them for first time. True classic.
  • Kawa from Tokyo, JapanHi Music lovers,

    I think that the idea of the lyrics of this song came from the song called, Bridge Over Troubled Water, written and sung by Simon And Garfunkel in 1970. The song, Bridge Over was written by Paul Simon in 60s, released 1969 and became a big hit in 1970. These facts made me think that the songwriters of the song, Burning Bridge, wrote the song after knowing the song, Bridge Over. And the rest is history.
    I also wonder how Paul got the idea of Bridge Over, then?

    To be continued.
  • Dustin from ArkansasPaul-I don't believe any of the axis powers made the comment "I'm afraid we've awoken a sleeping giant" about the Russians, English, or French. It was said about the U.S. By Japan though.

    Russia did its part to defeat Hitler in the East, and a majority American mixed with English, Canadian, and French took care of the West.

    If it weren't for the invasion of D-Day overseen by American General Eisenhauer, the Germans would've held off the Russians since they wouldn't have needed so many forces in the West to combat the allies.

    I don't remember Russia fighting Rommel in North Africa, or taking out Italy either like the U.S. led invasion of said places.

    Next you'lol be saying the U.S. only defeated Japan because of the threat that Russia would attack from the North!!

    Spare me your anti U.S. rhetoric. If Russia hadn't entered the war, U.S., England, Canada, France, and the other smaller nations still would've defeated Hitler. Same cannot be said for the Russians.
  • Christopher from New JerseyOh man does this song hit home. I remember cutting school, going off on my own instead of embracing life and knowing on some level it was wrong. it was just too easy to pass up. I'm nostalgic for that time and I wish I could do it over but i'm officially okay with it for some time now.

    great song!
  • Paul from Pdx, OrAnd any Canadiens or Canadians; apologize to Mill Valley, Ca (true gorg. spot), comment directed @ Corby en Mont Real
  • Paul from Pdx, OrAn historical fact for all you Mill Valley folks - WWII started in approx 1935 or 1936, depending on whom one speaks to in China, with the invasion of Manchuria (Manchuko to the conquering Japanese). In any case, the Big War started in the Eurasian front and ended there, for all intent and purpose. In Afrika and WEUR, the Allies mopped up after Soviet victories at Stalingrad and, most notably, Kursk (defense/offensive Orel/Belgorad/K'ahrkov) operations. Ignorance or obliviousness should not replace knowledge in any sphere of learning. While no SOV or Russo-phile by any standard, I tip my proverbial cap into the dust of Ukrainian roads to the Soviet Guards and other divisions that bled the soil of the Rodina red. Sorry to be preachy, but ignorance should best be placated by correction.
  • Corby from Montreal, NbTo Mr or Mrs JW from Mill Valley, CA

    Just a note - WWII started in 1939. Where was the US then? They only jumped in when they were caught sleeping on the job when Pearl Harbour was bombed. Yes, the US helped, but they didn't win the war on their own as every movie ever written by the Americans depicted. Google every battle ever won in both world wars and you will be surprised.
  • Jw from Mill Valley, CaOh-kay. This one I gotta get in on. If this was a fight, I know exactly which faces I'd be swinging for.
    Mr. England & Mr. Australia -Your ignorance shows! Both of your country's were saved by the USofA (in both WWI & WWII). Also, it is obvious neither of you have been in any sort of fight for survival, let alone in a war. To call the American Army "renegades" & "rob" & "AWOL" -your education & history are sick, very sick.
    1) Those soldiers were given a 3-day leave. Look up the word "AWOL". (Oddball's group was destroyed except for the 3 tanks & crews of. And still, 2 of his tanks & the guys were also destroyed by the enemy. Yet who is to say that some Alied shell didn't take out Oddball & his newly purchased Tiger, melting all that gold into the ground?)
    2) War has it's spoils. The gold belonged to the German Army until said army released it. Yes, the German Army stole said gold from whomever, yet do you honestly say the American soldiers "stole" it from the Germans???
    3) And group of renegades -Why don't you enlist & lay your life out & expose it in a real war; Then I will answer this one.
    My view is this song is a classic. "Burning Bridges" definitely has a Christian conotation within it. Death & destruction all around without question changes one's attitude. It is a soul thing, not spirit. I personally know this to a much lesser extent. To have been encapsullated within such a lifestyle for a year or two or three would change the focus of any sane man; both during the war & after. I see this song being about prior to enlistment & then concluding lyrics being of the wars' survival, back home in the free USofA, children all raised & gone to find their own way, the ex-soldier now alone with the memories of war & a lot of time to think & seeing the faces of the men he had to kill. Possibly regreting not listening to his friends telling him not to enlist from way back when. Yet now, with years gone by, being of a different economic class -lifestyle- all financial problems/responsibilities long ago taken care of via the spoils of WWII & the German army. How lonely it must be when one's soul is messed up.
    "Burning Bridges" fits the movie to a 'T'. Kelly's Heros is a classic & is motivational. Motivational in that how easy my life is -I've NO excuses in this life & with any of its' difficulties. So, . . ., whatever to those who just don't get it.
  • Camille from Toronto, OhA fabulous song of realization, regret and resignation. It reminds me of a transitional period in my life when I felt as if no one around me understood what I was experiencing; in the process of trying to figure life out, I damaged some relationships. I was still a teenager! There is something about the song that is unapologetic, tho. No where in the lyrics does the singer decide to make amends or say "I'm sorry". It is more an attitude of "yes, I made these mistakes; I regret them. There is no repairing the past; I move forward." And that's sometimes all you can do...move forward; march forward, that's why I think the marching beat of the song works so well with its lyrics.
  • Somchai from Calabash, NcI just watched Kelly's Heros(for the ? time) and searched for the soudtrack to buy. Downloaded instead, who's got money to waste these days. Oh, I forgot about our fraudulent administration and insane congress,but their broke as well.I Concur with Mark in his assessment, the only difference from the lyric and the movie is most likely Kelly's Heros and the remaining German soilder did not regret their actions. I've always felt "WE THREE KINGS" was feeble attempt to simulate Kelly's Heros with less talented actors.
  • Nicholaus from Tracy, CaI think Molly from Taunton, Maryland has the best take on the song. There's one heck of a lot of humor involving the "Viet Nam Era";apathy towards the completely idiotic and selfish people in control at the time and the realization that if you don't take care of yourself you'll get used and thrown away. Ol' Donald Sutherland had just finished M*A*S*H not long before this. Which is a heck of a social criticism on Viet Nam....I really hope this site has "Suicide Is Painless" by Johnny Mandel and the late Robert Altman's 13 Year Old Son here somewhere as, it's definitely worthy and also full of commentary!
  • Beth from Charleston, WvGeez, I hate to admit it, really but the first version of this song I ever heard was by Donny Osmond on his self-titled album. I loved it, and I still do. It's a cleaner sound than a "congregation".I think another artist could do this justice, kept simple it's a beautiful song.
  • Kevin from Reading , PaI can't see how this song really fits into the movie, aside from the military sounding drums at the beginning and the end. It's a quasi-religious, easy-listening type song about the type of regret borne out of disregarding good advice and leaving behind the people who really matter most.
  • Molly from Taunton, MaIt is very obvious to me that "Burning Bridges" refers to Kelly's men giving up everything they knew just to rob the gold. Considering the time the song was written it probably had a lot to do with war in general and Viet Nam specifically.
  • Alan from Sault Ste. Marie, OnAside from the fact this is a great song from a great movie another point of interest. Mike Curb went on to become Lieutenant Governor of California. The last Republican to hold that position.
  • Arthur from Durban, South AfricaWhat an excellent song. If I ever become president of a country that will be the National Anthem.

    Loved it from the first time I heard it in the late 60's and listen at least once a week to it. Kellys Heroes is alsa my favourite movie of all time.

    As I grew older the words describe my life I had.

    As Doug say I'm also a kind of Bridge Burner.
  • Twig from Scarborough, Australiai bought this single back in the 70's, butI didn't watch the film Kelly's Heroes until today. If you read the lyrics all the way through, I cannot imagine a less relevant song to stuff in as a theme. Tiny Tim's "tip-toe thru the tulips" would have been just as good. The producers must have been zonked on acid. Am I nuts?
  • Mark from Peoria, IlWhere Doug is right, Alexander's take on a former soldier reminiscing is probably not so close to the mark. Burning Bridges was very relevant to the movie as the concept of Kelly and crew burning their military bridges to go AWOL in the name of stealing gold was the movie's theme. Great song, has a very militaristic intro with the drums and brass.
  • James from Yucaipa, CaGreat song from a great movie.I remember this song when i was a kid.Im listening to it at this very moment & i watched kellys heroes a lil while ago on pbs.
  • Doug from Kansas City, Mowell, first of all the groups name was "the mike curb congregation" and of course its about a person who burns their bridges but then later regrets it. I'm kind of a bridge burner myself.
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