For The Sake Of The Song: Greg Trooper “Everywhere”

The surprise bombing of Pearl Harbour by the Japanese in December 1941, intensified the already existing tensions between people of Japanese descent and white Americans living in the USA. The concern of espionage and also the possibility that Japan would invade the United State’s west coast, led to American newspapers demanding action. Although there was no serious evidence that Japanese-Americans posed a threat to the USA, in February 1942 President Roosevelt signed an Executive Order that led to the incarceration of around 80,000 American citizens, and another 40,000 legal aliens in internment camps until they closed in January 1945.

Greg Trooper’s ‘Everywhere’ documents this sad state of affairs, from the point of view of two boys whose friendship is ripped apart by events beyond their control. The song’s title and chorus are a play on ‘Over There’, a song written in 1917 to inspire American soldiers going over to Europe to fight the Germans. By the end of the First World War the song had sold two million copies and, following the US’s entry into the Second World War, it experienced a revival.

The two protagonists in ‘Everywhere’ come from Half Moon Bay, a multi-cultural area south of San Francisco. The Japanese-American Lee and his white friend, the narrator of the song, both dream of fighting the Germans ‘along the River Seine’, but after Pearl Harbour Lee is ‘hauled away’ to a camp. The song’s unnamed storyteller, who’s fighting the Japanese in the Philippines, ‘platoon was never saved’ and a ‘little foxhole‘ becomes his ‘island grave’. Although Lee is eventually released, he takes his own life, ‘to lose that ball and chain’.

Trooper does a brilliant job of shining a light on this historic injustice, as he mournfully sings in the chorus ‘Over here, Over there, It’s the same everywhere’. The song only comprises three verses, but it’s enough to convey a heart-breaking tale of broken friendships, ruined lives and endemic racism. It’s one of the those personal, political and powerful songs that, if you listen to the lyrics, you’ll never forget.

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Harry Scott

One of the finest singer songwriters ever. We had Greg play our living room twice, and travelled all over the UK and Holland seeing him a few dozen times. He is and will remain a much missed force in our lives.
As a note…there is a new release by an Italian label (with Jack Trooper’s permission) of a show from Chiari in Italy on 15th November 1997. It’s called “Up On The Bandstand”, on New Shot Records (NSR06102023). Well worth seeking out.


I attended at least 23 Trooper shows and he played this at many. It usually was a request from the audience and Greg would often reply saying something like “that does feel appropriate, right now” as we were often involved in a war at the time or it was near a military-based holiday. Greg’s work needs to be heard by more people. The studio version of this is out of print and not on streaming, but you can stream a great live version from his Between A House And A Hard Place album.