In the armed services, Military Cadence call is a traditional call and response work song sung by military person calls or Jodie’s, after Jody, a recurring character who figures in some traditional cadences
In the United States, what are now known as cadences were called jody calls or jody (also Jodie) from a recurring character, a civilian named “Jody”, whose luxurious lifestyle is contrasted with military deprivations in a number of traditional calls. The mythical Jody refers to a civilian who remains at home instead of joining the military service. Jody is often presumed to be medically unfit for service, a 4F in WWII parlance. Jody also lacks the desirable attributes of military men. He is neither brave nor squared-away. Jody calls often make points with ironic humor. Jody will take advantage of a servicemember’s girlfriend in their absence. Jody stays at home, drives the soldier’s car, and gets the soldier’s sweetheart (often called “Susie”) while the soldier is in boot camp or in country.
The name derives from a stock character in African-American oral traditions, “Joe the Grinder,” who is also prominent in Merle Haggard’s song “The Old Man from the Mountain.” The character’s name has been transcribed as “Joady,” “Jody,” “Jodie,” “Joe D.”, or even “Joe the ____” (in dialect, “Joe de ____”) with Joe then identified by occupation. He was a stock anti-hero who maliciously took advantage of another man’s absence. Enlisted African-American soldiers incorporated this character into cadence songs during the Second World War.
Lineberry emphasizes conflicting uses of the calls: they are useful to command, in that they serve as instruments to psychologically detach the soldier from home-life, and to inculcate a useful degree of aggression. They are useful to the soldier, who can vent dissatisfaction without taking individual responsibility for the expression. While jodies, strictly speaking, are folklore (they are not taught institutionally, and do not appear, for example, in FM 3-21.5, Drill and Ceremonies Field Manual), some are tolerated and even encouraged by leadership, while others are subversive.
Common themes in jodies include:
- Everyday complaints about military life.
- Boasts (of one’s own unit) and insults (of one’s competitor, which may be another unit, another service branch, or the enemy.)
- Humorous and topical references.
Lineberry offers an alternative, psychologically and functionally oriented taxonomy. There are negative themes (disrespect expressed for deities, women, homosexuals, the enemy and economically deprived comrades; graphic expression of violence perpetrated on women and the enemy, glorification of substance abuse) but also positive (unit pride, encouragement of comrades) and perhaps in-between, expressions of contempt for death and indifference to mortality.
One example used in the U.S. Army:
- My honey heard me comin’ on my left right on left
- I saw Jody runnin’ on his left right on left
- I chased after Jody and I ran him down
- Poor ol’ boy doesn’t feel good now
- M.P.s came a runnin’ on their left right on left
- The medics came a runnin’ on their left right on left
- He felt a little better with a few I.V.s
- Son I told you not to mess with them ELEVEN Bs (the designation for infantry in the Army)
. Requiring no instruments to play, they are counterparts in oral military folklore of the military march. As a sort of work song, Military Cadence take their rhythms from the work being done (compare sea shanty). Many Military Cadence have a call and response structure of which one soldier initiates a line, and the remaining soldiers complete it, thus instilling teamwork and camaraderie for completion. The cadence calls move to the beat and rhythm of the normal speed (quick time) march or running-in-formation (double time) march. This serves the purpose of keeping soldiers “dressed”, moving in step as a unit and in formation, while maintaining the correct beat or cadence.l while running or marching. In the United States, these cadences are sometimes called jody The word “cadence” was applied to these work songs because of an earlier meaning, in which it meant the number of steps a marcher or runner took per minute. The Military Cadence was set by a drummer or sergeant and discipline was extremely important, as keeping the cadence directly affected the travel speed of infantry. There were other purposes: the close-order drill was a particular cadence count for the complex sequence of loading and firing a musket. In the Revolutionary War, Baron von Steuben notably imported European battlefield techniques which persist, greatly modified, to this day. Here are some Military Cadence different branches