The Battle of New Orleans-The Song


Something for the weekend.  On January 8, 2015 we reach the 207th anniversary of the battle of New Orleans, so Jimmie Driftwood’s Battle of New Orleans seems appropriate.  Driftwood, when he was a teacher, wrote the song in 1936 to help his students differentiate between the War of 1812 and the Revolutionary War.  After Driftwood became a full time singer and composer, he often sang the song.  Johnny Horton made it a mega hit in 1959 with his rendition.

After it became a hit, the Queen of England, Elizabeth II, visited Newfoundland.  The song was banned for the term of her visit by the provincial government.  My sainted mother who loved the Queen, but also had to the full the Irish rebel spirit, used to regale me with tales of the lengths that Newfies went to make sure that the song was played continuously during the Queen’s visit as a result!

Newfies were hanging record players out of their windows, the volume cranked up full blast playing the song. Her comment on this fiasco was that if the idiots in government hadn’t attempted to ban it, no one would have been playing it. I think my attitude towards government began to be forged by this example of folly related to me at a very young age at my mother’s knee! (more…)

Published in: on January 8, 2022 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on The Battle of New Orleans-The Song  
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Jim Bridger


iSomething for the weekend.  Jim Bridger (1960), one of Johnny Horton’s historically themed songs.  Jim Bridger, unlike most of “Mountain Men” contemporaries, lived a very long life from 1804-1881, which is amazing considering some of his exploits.  Bridger was a life long illiterate, but always had a large store of common sense and was a very shrewd character.  A Zelig among “Mountain Men” he had a knack for being present for most significant events on the frontier until his retirement in the late 1860’s.  Physically a big, powerful man, his amiability and good humor probably served him best in his interactions with both Indians and Whites.  He was very fond of tall stories, for example talking about finding petrified birds, singing petrified songs.  One of his favorite routines was to tell newcomers to the frontier about how once he was being chased by one hundred Cheyenne warriors.  He would tell about how they chased him and the tricks he used to attempt to elude them, building the drama of the tale.  Finally the war party surrounded him.  He would then pause until his listeners would urgently ask what happened next.  Poker faced he would respond, “Why they killed me!”.

Published in: on June 11, 2016 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Jim Bridger  
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Johnny Reb?

Something for the weekend.  The things you find on the internet!  Johnny Horton in 1958 singing his hit song Johnny Reb to Walter G. Williams, the supposed last surviving veteran of the Civil War.

Shaun Mather at the Rockabilly Hall of Fame describes the incident:

The first night in July saw them back at Bradley’s Barn where they worked up a  follow up, Johnny Reb. Penned by Merle Kilgore, it was another saga song, even  having the marching drum beat. Horton’s own, Words was a nice ballad and  Driftwood’s, Sal’s Got A Sugarlip was a mid tempo novelty item with a semi  Slow Diddley beat, which he recut on the 6th. Johnny Reb and the later take  of Sal were issued before the end of the month. In a glorious publicity stunt,  Horton visited the last survivor from the Civil War, 116 year old General  Walter Williams. His daughter cranked up his hearing aid too high and as  soon as Horton started singing, Williams grabbed for his ears, a grimes  across his face. Horton thought the old timer didn’t like his song, but  once the problem had been sorted out, they tried again. This time the  veteran tapped his foot and was moved to tears. Slightly disappointedly,  Johnny Reb only reached fifty-four on the pop charts but rose to number  nine on the country charts.

Mr. Williams died in 1959.  Alas, researchers after his death concluded that he was probably a fake Confederate veteran.  Williams claimed to have been a foragemaster in Hood’s Texas brigade and to have ridden with Quantrill’s raiders.  Williams said he had been born in 1842.  The 1860 census listed him as five years old.  The National Archives listed no Walter G. Williams as having served from either his birth state of Mississippi or the state of Texas where Williams’ family settled and where Williams resided. (more…)

Published in: on July 6, 2013 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Johnny Reb?  
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Jim Bridger

Something for the weekend.  Jim Bridger, Johnny Horton’s 1960 tribute to the mountain man.  Bridger was the Zelig of the early West.  There were few major events in the West between 1822-1868 that he wasn’t involved in.  Raising two families with Indian women he married, his first wife dying in childbirth, Bridger was the first white man to set foot in various parts of the far West.  Active in the fur trade, he founded Fort Bridger and at the age of 60 in 1864 he blazed the Bridger Trail from Wyoming to Montana. (more…)

Published in: on March 2, 2013 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Jim Bridger  
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Young Abe Lincoln (Make A Tall, Tall Man)

Something for the weekend.   Young Abe Lincoln (Make A Tall, Tall Man), sung and written by Johnny Horton. (more…)

Published in: on June 16, 2012 at 5:32 am  Comments Off on Young Abe Lincoln (Make A Tall, Tall Man)  
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Comanche, the Brave Horse

Something for the weekend.  Commanche, the Brave Horse by Johnny Horton.  A 15 hand bay gelding, Commanche entered cavalry service in 1868, age and ancestry uncertain, although it was thought that he was probably part Morgan and part Mustang.  He was purchased by Captain Myles Keogh as his personal war horse, to be ridden only in battle.  During a fight with Comanches in 1868, Comanche earned his name by continuing to allow himself to be ridden by Keogh even though Comanche was wounded in his hindquarters by an arrow.

Keogh rode him in the Battle of the Little Big Horn.  He was found badly wounded two days after the battle, the sole survivor of Custer’s force.  He became the prized mascot of the Seventh Cavalry and received special treatment as set forth in this order after his retirement following his lengthy convalescence from his wounds: (more…)

Published in: on July 16, 2011 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Comanche, the Brave Horse  
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The Battle of Bull Run


Something for the weekend.  The Battle of Bull Run by Johnny Horton. (more…)

Published in: on February 19, 2011 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on The Battle of Bull Run  
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