Help Identify a Loudon Wainwright III Song


M*A*S*H fan Mark has a mystery on his hands. Maybe you can help. Here’s the e-mail he sent me:

When I was young and watching the series new, I remember clearly him [Loudon Wainwright III] singing a piece, possibly at the end of the show, maybe not a whole song either, containing words about “sweet smoke, pine smoke, white Seehawken moon…” It ended with words to the effect of up in the sky but I’m less clear on those. It’s been a mystery all my life and I’m still trying to identify it. Went back and watched the Spaulding episodes but no luck. I’m fairly sure it was Loudon Wainwright doing it.

Mark later suggested he’s remembering “the fade out music at the end of an episode.”

Loudon Wainwright III played Captain Calvin Spalding in a trio of episodes during Season 3: “Rainbow Bridge,” “There is Nothing Like a Nurse,” and “Big Mac.” I haven’t gone through the episodes listening for the lyrics Mark recalls, but he recently watched all three and didn’t hear the song he remembers.

Do these lyrics sound familiar to anyone? Were they heard on M*A*S*H? Are they from a Loudon Wainwright III song?

6 Replies to “Help Identify a Loudon Wainwright III Song”

  1. The only time I remember the show fading out with Spaulding singing was “Big Mac.” The episode’s tag is usually cut from syndication, but it shows him standing in formation singing, while the rest of the camp dejectedly begins breaking up and going on with their lives. Don’t remember what he sang though.

    1. “There’s Nothing Like a Nurse” fades out with him too; Hawkeye and Trapper walk with him and sing along, and as they walk, they get more and more of the camp to join in.

      It’s the song about going to the afterlife and being glad. “Ha ha ha, chuckle chuckle chuckle…” MeTV ran this just the other night.

  2. Boy, I don’t know. I haven’t seen “Big Mac” in a long time, but I’m very familiar with “Rainbow Bridge” and “There’s Nothing Like a Nurse” and this doesn’t sound like either of those. “Rainbow Bridge” used “Ohh Tokyo” as a framing device (sort of), and “There’s Nothing…” had the afterlife “ha ha ha” song to open and close the episode, and a brief musical ode to the nurses during the ep proper.

    To me, it sounds like that ode could be mistaken for the remembered song (although those aren’t the lyrics in it), but since he says he went back and watched the three Loudon episodes already, I’m not sure what the song could be, or if it’s even from a M*A*S*H…

  3. Just watched all three episodes and didn’t hear him singing/saying anything using the words mentioned above. BDOR is right that Big Mac ends with the camera going up into the sky, but it is still fixed on the crowd, and does not show the sky. The song he sings is about MacArthur.

    In There’s Nothing Like a Nurse he sings the song about the afterlife and you’re going to be sorry, and then later on a song about the nurses.

    In Rainbow Bridge it’s all the same song about Tokyo.

  4. All the MASH episodes are available to stream free on the Internet Archive website at using search term MASH collection. I stumbled upon this and have been happily watching series again. No laugh track in this one and complete episodes are included. I don’t know who posted this but I could kiss him! Anyway, you could easily check the episodes suggested in the above replies as they’re all named in this site. Good luck!

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