Barbara Schmidt told me today that Willie Nelson's rendition of Mark
Twain's "The War Prayer" is now available online in MP3 format at
Willie Nelson's site:
The MP3 file is about 5 MB in size. It only took me about 20 seconds
to download it with a cable modem but it will take much longer if you
have a dial-up connection.
Nelson first released this in 1991 during the Gulf War. It was
distributed for free by Peace Inc. of San Francisco and received some
press coverage at the time. The online version includes parts of an
anti-war song called "Jimmy's Road." I don't know if that was part of
the original release of the recording in 1991.
For anyone unfamiliar with the publication history of "The War
Prayer," the information about that in the commentary at the end of
the recording is wrong. Twain did try to publish "The War Prayer" but
it was rejected by Harper's Bazaar in March 1905 as "not quite suited
to a woman's magazine." At the time, Mark Twain was a vice
president of the Anti-Imperialist League, and the story was one of his
literary protests against the Philippine-American War (1899-1913).
The commentary says it was first published in the November 1916
issue of Harper's Magazine, but that issue includes part of "The
Mysterious Stranger," not "The War Prayer." "The War Prayer" was
first published in Europe and Elsewhere in 1923.