The Story Behind Iron Maiden’s ‘The Trooper’

Iron Maiden’s The Trooper, the song, inspired by Lord Tennyson’s poem about the Battle of Balaclava.

‘The Trooper’ is a song by Iron Maiden that was released as the second single on 20 June 1983 from the band’s fourth studio album, Piece of Mind.

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Written by bassist and founding member Steve Harris, the song is based on the Charge of the Light Brigade at the Battle of Balaclava 1854, which took place during the Crimean War. And inspired by Lord Tennyson’s poem of the same name.

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It’s quite an atmospheric song as the opening in “The Trooper” is meant to try and recreate the galloping horses in the charge of the light brigade. The first verses show the soldier’s patriotism: He’s willing to die if he can take an enemy with him. “Run you through” regards various kinds of blades – swords, spears (the presumed weapon of a light cavalryman) and bayonets installed atop the rifles to stab approaching enemies. And as the trooper dies, he feels lonely on the ground and slowly fading to death. Despite this feeling of emptiness and being “forgotten,” he dies without regret or fear.

A regular fixture in the band’s concerts, vocalist Bruce Dickinson has always waved a Union Flag during live performances. And, more recently, has begun wearing an authentic red coat uniform which would have been worn during the battle on which the song was based.

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However, sometimes it was a subject to some controversies, like during a performance in Dublin in 2003 when Dickinson’s flag-waving reportedly received a large amount of booing from the Irish audience and at the 2005 Ozzfest. Sharon Osbourne, accused Iron Maiden of disrespecting American troops, then fighting alongside the British in Iraq, for waving a Union Flag in the US. Although Classic Rock magazine supported the band by pointing out that the song’s subject bore no relation to the military activity then taking place in the Middle East.

“The Trooper”

Iron Maiden – The Trooper (Official Video)

Battle of Balaklava, CRIMEAN WAR [1854] also spelled Balaclava, (Oct. 25 [Oct. 13, Old Style], 1854), indecisive military engagement of the Crimean War, best known as the inspiration of the English poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s “Charge of the Light Brigade.” In this battle, the Russians failed to capture Balaklava, the Black Sea supply port of the British, French, and Turkish allied forces in the southern Crimea; but the British lost control of their best supply road connecting Balaklava with the heights above Sevastopol, the major Russian naval centre that was under siege by the allies. The three noteworthy engagements of the day were the Thin Red Line, The Charge of the Heavy Brigade, and the infamous and disastrous Charge of the Light Brigade. Tennyson’s “Charge of the Heavy Brigade at Balaclava,” never popular, is little known except to literary scholars. In all, the Battle of Balaklava cost each side some 620 men.

You may also want to check out our good friends, Piece of Time – American Maiden Tribute performing The Trooper by Iron Maiden

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