At the dawn of an ordinary Sunday
I remember the taste of you, sweet in my mouth,
Late in the year.
And in the stillness of an Oriental rainfall
I remember the warmth of you, still in my arms,
Late, late in the year.
I can bring to you flowers in the night
Soft as my trembling fingers touch you,
I can offer you wine and candlelight
If only my aching fingers clutch you,
Late in the year. (3x)
[Repeat 1st verse]
Che Guevara, Marxist revolutionary of the Third World, was shot to death on October 9, 1967 by a CIA agent during guerrilla warfare in Bolivia. He instantly became a martyr to the blossoming 1968 student protests among Western nations, including the United States. However he was denounced by the U.S. government as a Communist in league with Fidel Castro of Cuba. Joseph Byrd’s title was meant to upset the “establishment”. Columbia Records tried to get him to change the title, but he only offered as an alternative "Julius and Ethel Rosenberg" (other victims of the Cold War at the hands of America) as a replacement title if the original title was not been allowed [Kevin Holm-Hudson: Progressive Rock Reconsidered (2002), p. 48].
The “protest” in this Love Song for the Dead Che however is entirely in the use of his name in the title. The lyrics are simply a song of grief by a lover, sung with noble restraint by Dorothy Moscowitz. Only the reference to the Orient, referring perhaps to Che’s visits to Asia, seem in any way specific to the revolutionary leader. I imagine the singer to be a lover Che had met in Asia during his travels. Despite the synthetic accordion, organ and strings that accompany the song, there’s a bossa nova sound to the tune that perhaps vaguely indicates Che’s roots in Argentina, by pointing in the direction of Brazil. Love Song for the Dead Che has a close cousin in Paul Simon’s bossa nova So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright released in January 1970 on the album Bridge Over Troubled Water.