For a few months in early 1980s, Bob Weston was a frequent guest at the Young's home, and on two of those occasions the three of them collaborated on songs. This was, if memory serves, the second of those; the first was Walkin' In the Woods.
Mark was strumming an acoustic guitar, and played the C Major Seventh chord on which the song would begin; Bobby liked the sound of it and sang the first words, then told Mark to slide it up to the strange D Six Nine Add Four, where he continued to sing the second line. Mark then took it to what he considered the logical next chord, the E Minor, and Bobby signaled him for a change for which he got the A minor, and then another slide, this time into a B Minor Add Four Over A, which Mark held while Bobby finished out the introduction.
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Mark then took over with the lead into the chorus, "Shed a tear", hitting the A minor, and then hearing Bobby echo it, and the next words as the chord changed again. At some point someone, maybe Janet, started writing it all down, and between the three of them they continued crafting two vocal parts and an intricate poetic metaphor speaking at once of the slaughter of millions in World War II and the slaughter of the unborn today. Recalling words from Deitrich Bonhoffer, Mark added the section about being silent when "they" came to take away everyone else, while Bobby inserted the haunting counterpoint about the approaching steps. The metaphor comes into focus with the last sung lines, and then Mark wrote the concluding poem which ends the song.
Fragments of the flute part were composed with the song, particularly in the parts where the one voice is alone; it was expanded shortly thereafter to fill some of the other spaces. Mark played the flute on it in Terranova and 7dB, but when the band transitioned to Collision the song dropped out because it required two voices. It was restored in the Collision days, with the expectation that either a rhythm guitar player would be found and Kyle would play the flute part as an electric lead, or that Jonathan would play the flute on his keyboard while singing the lower vocal. It never made it to concert.
It is of all Mark's songs his own favorite. The lyrics and a recording of it from the early aughts have been available on line for several years, as part of the Cardiac Output collection.
An anonymous critic has objected that the song blames the Jews for the Holocaust. That is not the meaning nor the intent of the words at all. The Holocaust came upon Germany, killing several times as many non-Jews as Jews. The song tells us that when a society believes that it has the power of life and death for reasons that have nothing to do with justice, it is the beginning of a disaster that will destroy that society.