May 23, 1865: Grand Review-Army of the Potomac

 

 

Doubtless many men who fought in the Civil War thought, and dreaded, that the War might go on forever.  Now, however, it had ended with Union victory.  Some European powers speculated that the United States would now use its vast armies to take foreign territory:  perhaps French occupied Mexico, maybe settle old scores by taking Canada from Great Britain, Cuba, held by moribund Spain was certainly a tempting target.  But no, the armies had been raised for the purpose of preserving the Union.  Now the men in the ranks were eager to get home, and the nation was just as eager to enjoy peace.

One last duty remained however:  an immense victory parade in Washington.  On May 23, 1865, the 80,000 strong Army of the Potomac marched happily through the streets of Washington on a glorious spring day.  For six hours they passed the reviewing stand, where President Johnson, the cabinet, General Grant and assorted civilian and military high brass, received the salutes of, and saluted, the men who had saved the Union.  Most of the men had hated the Army, and were overjoyed to be going home, but for the rest of their lives they would remember this day and how all the death and suffering they had endured over the past four years had not been in vain after all.    Almost all of them were very young men now, and many of them would live to old age, future generations then having a hard time picturing them as they were now:  lean, battle-hardened and the victors of the bloodiest war in the history of their nation.  When they died iron stars would be put by their graves, and each Decoration Day, eventually called Memorial Day, flags would be planted by their graves, as if to recall a huge banner draped over the Capitol on this day of days:

“The Only National Debt We Can Never Pay, Is The Debt We Owe To Our Victorious Soldiers.”   (more…)

Published in: on May 23, 2022 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on May 23, 1865: Grand Review-Army of the Potomac  
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Concordia Choir: Medley of Civil War Songs

 

 

Something for the weekend.  A medley of Civil War songs, Tenting on the Old Camp Ground, Johnny Has Gone For a Soldier and The Dying Soldier, sung by the choir of my bride’s alma mater, Concordia College of Morehead, Minnesota.  Go Cobbers!

Published in: on April 23, 2022 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Concordia Choir: Medley of Civil War Songs  
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Indian Summer

Something for the  weekend.  Indian Summer (1919) performed by the Glenn Miller orchestra.  The weather has been unseasonably warm in Central Illinois so this seemed appropriate.  Also appropriate to recall Glenn Miller, a master musician and a true patriot.  Too old at age 38, he joined the Army Air Forces, forsaking a weekly income of a third of a million dollars in today’s money, to modernize military music and make it a morale raiser for the young GIs.

Organizing the Army Air Force Band, his performances were immensely popular.  He lost his life when his plane went missing over the English Channel in bad weather on December 15, 1944.

 

Published in: on October 2, 2021 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Indian Summer  
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36 Views of Rocky Top

 

Something for the weekend.  I have never been particularly fond of Country and Western music, a musical genre that my late parents perhaps overdosed me on as I was growing up.  However, I have always been fond of the rollicking Rocky Top.  The video at the beginning of this post melds the song with pictures from the Volunteer State.

 

 

The individual who posted the you tube video has detailed information about the song:

A video of Tennessee history. The Tennessee Theme song Rocky Top. There is so much spirit in Tennessee. Atlanta artist Corey Barksdale video about state of Tennessee. Corey Barksdale has lived in Atlanta for about 15 years and has become one of Atlanta’s premier artist. Corey Barksdale has exhibited his artwork at the Atlanta Dogwood festival, Decatur Art Festival, Virginia-Highlands Art Festival, National Black Art Festival, Atlanta Jazz Festival, Artsplosure in Raleigh North Carolina, Art Festival in Paducah, Kentucky, One of a Kind Show in Chicago, etc. Decatur, GA artist Corey Barksdale has painted for audiences in the city of Atlanta,

This video was created by Atlanta & Decatur Fine Artist Corey Barksdale. Please visit Corey’s website. http://www.coreybarksdale.com/

The song was written by a married couple, songwriters Felice and Boudleaux Bryant. They wrote “Rocky Top” in only ten minutes in 1967. The Bryants were working in Gatlinburg on a collection of slow-tempo songs for a project for Archie Campbell and Chet Atkins. Writing the fast-paced “Rocky Top” served as a temporary diversion for them. Recorded by the Osborne Brothers in 1967, the song was a top 40 hit on the country music charts in early 1968.

Although a staple of their concerts, the song did not achieve mass popularity until Lynn Anderson had a hit with it in 1970, and when the “Pride of the Southland” University of Tennessee marching band used it for one of their drills in 1972. The song was very popular and was officially adopted as a state song in 1982. In the 1970s, the song achieved such popularity among bar crowds that the Chapel Hill, North Carolina, old-time band the Red Clay Ramblers [1] national tours included a crowd-pleasing satire informally titled “Play ‘Rocky Top’ (or I’ll Punch Your Lights Out.)”[2]

The original “Rocky Top” song describes a place called Rocky Top, Tennessee, which is one of the three peaks of Thunderhead Mountain in Tennessee (located in the Smoky Mountains) in the eastern part of the state. The peak is actually located along the border between Tennessee and North Carolina.[3][4]

Despite its fast and upbeat tempo, the song’s first verse is actually a lament over a failed love affair and a vanishing way of life. The song’s second verse is an ode to two apparent revenuers and the illegal production of alcoholic beverages by moonshining, with a reference to “looking for a moonshine still.” These are all common country music themes. With its good-natured regional references to a carefree lifestyle, the singing of “Rocky Top” by Tennessee college students and alumni at sports venues such as Neyland Stadium is well established. The University of Tennessee has been granted a perpetual license to play the song as much and as often as success on the field dictates by the copyright holders, House of Bryant.

Contrary to popular belief, “Rocky Top” is not UT’s official fight song, although it is so closely identified with the university that many believe this to be the case. UT’s official fight song is a radically different tune called “Here’s To Old Tennessee”, adapted from the Yale University fight song “Down the Field”.

“Operation Rocky Top” was the FBI’s code name for a public corruption investigation into the Tennessee state government in the late 1980s which resulted in the eventual suicide of the Tennessee Secretary of State, Gentry Crowell, and the incarceration of several other individuals, most notably state House Majority Leader Tommy Burnette. The focus of the investigation was the illegal sale of bingo licenses.

The jam band Phish played “Rocky Top” regularly from 1987 to 2003. There have been additional cover versions of the song by such country music artists as Dolly Parton, Conway Twitty, and Billie Jo Spears. It can also be known as the official fight song of David Webb, a noted band director in Central Virginia at Jefferson Forest High.

Here is Lynn Anderson’s version which launched the song to fame:

And here are 34 other renditions:

 

 

Published in: on September 4, 2021 at 5:30 am  Comments (2)  
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Stars and Stripes Forever

Something for the weekend.  For a Memorial Day weekend Stars and Stripes Forever seems called for.  Beyond a doubt the best known composition of John Philip Sousa, it is the National March of the United States.  Sousa wrote it on Christmas Day 1896 and it proved massively popular, especially when it was played during the Spanish-American War.  My Family and I, visited the Sousa Archives at the University of Illinois in June of 2019, go here to read about the Sousa Archives, which houses the papers of John Philip Sousa.  The grad student on duty gave us a first rate presentation on Sousa and his music, and he brought out for us original sheet music used by Sousa and his band, which sent shivers down my spine.  Writers do what they can, but a truly great composer effortlessly touches hearts and souls long after he is dust.

Let martial note in triumph float
And liberty extend its mighty hand
A flag appears ‘mid thunderous cheers,
The banner of the Western land.
The emblem of the brave and true
Its folds protect no tyrant crew;
The red and white and starry blue
Is freedom’s shield and hope.

Other nations may deem their flags the best
And cheer them with fervid elation
But the flag of the North and South and West
Is the flag of flags, the flag of Freedom’s nation.

Hurrah for the flag of the free!
May it wave as our standard forever,
The gem of the land and the sea,
The banner of the right.
Let despots remember the day
When our fathers with mighty endeavor
Proclaimed as they marched to the fray
That by their might and by their right
It waves forever.

Let eagle shriek from lofty peak
The never-ending watchword of our land;
Let summer breeze waft through the trees
The echo of the chorus grand.
Sing out for liberty and light,
Sing out for freedom and the right.
Sing out for Union and its might,
O patriotic sons.

Other nations may deem their flags the best
And cheer them with fervid elation,
But the flag of the North and South and West
Is the flag of flags, the flag of Freedom’s nation.

Hurrah for the flag of the free.
May it wave as our standard forever
The gem of the land and the sea,
The banner of the right.
Let despots remember the day
When our fathers with mighty endeavor
Proclaimed as they marched to the fray,
That by their might and by their right
It waves forever.

A “unique”, yes that is what we will call it, muppet rendition of Stars and Stripes Forever, hosted by Sam the American Eagle, who is the answer to the question, “Don, if you were a muppet, which muppet would you be?”

Vladimir Horowitz was one of the greatest pianists of the last century.  He was also a refugee from the Soviet Union.  He became a naturalized American citizen in 1944, and, like many naturalized American citizens of that era, he was intensely patriotic, giving many concerts in support of the war effort.  Here is his immortal rendition of Stars and Stripes Forever from 1945.

Published in: on May 29, 2021 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Stars and Stripes Forever  
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Paint it Black

Something for the weekend.  Paint it Black by the Rolling Stones. (more…)

Published in: on April 10, 2021 at 5:30 am  Comments (2)  
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Winter

Something for the weekend.  The winter season is upon Central Illinois, and it seems an appropriate time for Vivaldi’s Winter.

 

 

Published in: on January 16, 2021 at 3:30 am  Comments Off on Winter  
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When Johnny Comes Marching Home

 

Something for the weekend:  When Johnny Comes Marching Home.  One hundred and fifty years ago as soldiers North and South were returning to their homes this song was being played.  Written by composer Patrick Gilmore, bandmaster of the 24th Massachusetts in 1863 to comfort his sister who was praying for her fiancée to return safe from the War, it proved immensely popular both North and South with the troops and was sung and played endlessly by them with varied lyrics, all centered upon their dearest hope:  to go home after what they usually called this cruel War was over.  Gilmore set the tune to another popular song of the day:  Johnny Fill Up the Bowl.

The song retained its popularity in subsequent American wars as demonstrated by these renditions of the song by Glenn Miller and the Andrew Sisters: (more…)

Published in: on August 15, 2020 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on When Johnny Comes Marching Home  
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America and Marian Anderson

Something for the weekend.  Only one song is appropriate I think for a Fourth of July weekend:  America.  Written by a Baptist minister, Samuel Francis, and set to the tune, ironically, of God Save the Queen, the song was first performed on July 4, 1831 at Park Street Church in Boston.  Near the end of his life, Francis was proposed by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr, for an honorary degree from Harvard.  Harvard turned this proposal down on the grounds that Smith had not written the tune.  The reply of Holmes was memorable and prophetic:  His song will be sung centuries from now, when most of us and our pipings are forgotten.

The rendition at the beginning of this post is by Marian Anderson, perhaps the most gifted songstress of her generation.  A devout Christian, this granddaughter of slaves was denied the opportunity by the Daughters of the American Revolution to sing at Constitution Hall in 1939.  In 1939 the District of Columbia was controlled by committees of Congress.  Democrat segregationists rigidly enforced rules of segregation in the District.  Blacks were rightly upset that during a performance by Miss Anderson, if it had been held at Constitution Hall, they would have been required to sit in the back of the hall.  The District of Columbia Board of Education, controlled by Democrats, declined to allow Marian Anderson to perform in the auditorium of a white school.  To her credit, Eleanor Roosevelt and her husband arranged for Anderson to give her unforgettable performance at the Lincoln Memorial on April 9, 1939, Easter Sunday.

During the war years, Miss Anderson spent a large part of her time entertaining troops.  In 1943, at the invitation of the Daughters of the American Revolution, she sang before an integrated audience for a Red Cross benefit.  The always gracious Miss Anderson remembered the event:  When I finally walked onto the stage of Constitution Hall, I felt no different than I had in other halls. There was no sense of triumph. I felt that it was a beautiful concert hall and I was very happy to sing there.” (more…)

Published in: on July 4, 2020 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on America and Marian Anderson  
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Eternal Father

Something for the weekend.  Eternal Father (1861) seems very appropriate for a Memorial Day weekend, as we remember those who paid the ultimate price for the freedom we cherish.  Written in 1860 as a poem by William Whiting in England, the music to accompany the lyrics was composed by John B. Dykes in 1861.  The moving hymn has always been a favorite of those who serve in the military:

Eternal Father, strong to save,

Whose arm hath bound the restless wave, 

Who bidd’st the mighty ocean deep  

Its own appointed limits keep;  

Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee, 

For those in peril on the sea!

O Christ! Whose voice the waters heard

And hushed their raging at Thy word,  

Who walkedst on the foaming deep,

And calm amidst its rage didst sleep;

Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,  

For those in peril on the sea!

Most Holy Spirit! Who didst brood

Upon the chaos dark and rude,

And bid its angry tumult cease,

And give, for wild confusion, peace;  

Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,  

For those in peril on the sea!

O Trinity of love and power!

Our brethren shield in danger’s hour;

From rock and tempest, fire and foe, 

Protect them wheresoe’er they go;

  Thus evermore shall rise to Thee

Glad hymns of praise from land and sea.

(more…)

Published in: on May 23, 2020 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Eternal Father  
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