In a week it will once again be Remembrance Day, November 11th, 11:00am. For two short minutes we will be asked to put down our tools and pay a silent homage to those who fought for our freedoms. Most of us do not remember the sacrifices our fathers and their father made and how brave they must have been. I know my father joined at the age of 17 and spent 2 years as a tail gunner on a RAF Lancaster. I also know that all but one of my uncles served in various services and that 2 remained in Europe forever. My grandfathers both served in the 1st World War and my mother’s father lost 2 of his brothers at Vimy Ridge. My own father served for 25 years in the Canadian Air Force and for 4 long years worked as a bomb disposal expert on the Maginot Line. In many ways he never came back from the war.
To put it in perspective, over 15 million people were either killed in the 1st war and over 62 million died in the 2nd war. Germany lost over 10 percent of its entire population, Poland over 16 percent and Russia over 13 percent . In Vietnam, 58,000 US Soldier, 552 Australians, 1,000 ROK and 1.3 million North & South Vietnam soldiers were killed. Another 2 to 4 million civilians were also killed.
To remember my father, grandfathers and all those others who fought so bravely I have assembled a large collection of music that commemorates Ancient wars, the world wars, Vietnam and the future wars. This is not done to glorify war but to remember the brave men and women who stand watch each and every day so we can be free.
I have also included John McCrae’s poem “In Flanders Fields” and some of the history behind how the poppy became the symbol of remembrance, along with one other poem.
This post is broken down into the following categories:
The post consists of 8 RS files and within each you will find artists you have never heard of or familiar artists who have published music directly related to remembrance or conflict. Hope you enjoy this posts(s)
History and or information on most of the music is included below.
In Flanders Fields
by John McCrae, May 1915
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep,
though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
Deserted Soldier - Mary Chapin Carpenter
(Gaelic song chronicling the life of a soldie. This is the sorry tale of a young man whose father put him in the army. Upon hearing that his girlfriend had left him he cut off his trigger finger so he would be dismissed. He is poor and alone on death's door but if he only had his sweetheart by him he would recover. In the last verse the ex-soldier wishes his father punishment for all the misery he has caused.)
I Never Knew His Name - Linda Eder
(Song for the musical The Civil War that tells the story of a soldier dying in a nurse’s arms)
Just Before The Battle Mother - Marty Robbins
(A soldier’s letter to his mother before he goes into a civil war battle)
Lord Grenville - Al Stewart
(English naval commander. He was sent with fleet of 13 ships to intercept a Spanish treasure ship in the Azores. On Aug. 31 they received news that 53 Spanish ships were headed out to meet the treasure ship. Other ships in the fleet weighed anchor and headed out to sea. Grenville's ship, the Revenge, was delayed and cut off. The ship was becalmed in the lee of a large galleon. After a hand to hand battle lasting 15 hours, and involving 15 ships and 5000 men, the Revenge was captured. Grenville was carried aboard the Spanish flagship and died a few days later. The exploit is commemorated in poem by Tennyson titled "Revenge".)
MacDonnell On The Heights - Stan Rogers
(John MacDonell was one of the Glengarry County (Ontario)"Greenfield" MacDonells who came to that early Highland settlement (west of Cornwall and up to the Quebec border) from the Gaelic-speaking Highland area of Glengarry, Scotland in 1792.
He was a lawyer and a politician, and joined the army at the start of the war, with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He was not a professional soldier, but many of the Scots who settled the eastern counties of Ontario were retired professional soldiers. His cousins, close and distant, formed regiments in the defence of Canada, and some fought with distinction in many other battles in that war. The loyalty of the Scots to the British cause is almost puzzling. The British and the British elites in Canada tended to look down on Scots and Catholics, and these Scots were Catholics, refugees from political persecution in their homeland.
MacDonell was a uniquely talented man, accepted by the English elites. He was a pioneer, bridging the differences between the two groups. Brock recognized his talents, and flattered the Scots community, by appointing him to high rank on his own staff.
If he had lived, he could have been a powerful force for democracy and ethnic equality in Upper Canada.
Stan's song gives a fair account of the battle, and it can not be faulted on historical details except on two points: he spelled the man's name wrong (which has confused a few fans who have visited the monument and have not found the name), and he called him an Eastern Township Scot; the expression Eastern Townships generally refers to a region east of Montreal on the south side of the St Lawrence River.
The liner notes on the album were written after Stan's death. They contain a few factual errors, and an interesting interpretation of MacDonell's part in history. They also provide a rare look at the way Stan shared his enjoyment of Canada's heritage with his family and friends.)
Oh, I'm A Good Old Rebel - Johnny Horton
(Written by Major Innes Randolph, CSA, A Civil war song sung by Southern soldiers after the surrender)
Patriot Game - Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem
The Patriot Game is an Irish ballad that critically examines the ultra-nationalist posture of the IRA during the 1950s. The song is set in the period following WWII when the IRA launched a new campaign to bring about the unification of Northern Ireland (which is part of the United Kingdom) with the independent Republic Of Ireland. It was written by Dominic Behan (younger brother of playwright Brendan Behan), the tune adapted from an earlier folksong,The Merry Month Of May. The song tells the story of Fergal O'Hanlon, an IRA Volunteer from County Monaghan who achieved minor fame for taking part in an attack on Brookeborough Royal Ulster Constabulary barracks, in County Fermanagh on 1st January 1957. O'Hanlan was killed in the attack at the age of 17. This incident took place during The IRA's 1950s Border Campaign(1956 - 1962) which resulted in complete failure. The attack was devised and led by Sean Garland, an IRA. man from County Dublin- another volunteer, Seán South, from Limerick was also killed during the raid.
The song is perhaps one of the most famous to emerge from the Irish nationalist struggle, and is immensely popular amongst the IRA, as well as other groups. The Patriot Game has been recorded by numerous artists, including the Kingston Trio, Judy Collins, Bob Dylan, and The Clancy Brothers. Dylan also used the tune, when writing his song; With God On Our Side.
Behan called Dylan a plagiarist and a thief, by claiming the melody as an original composition, in an attempt to goad him into a lawsuit. Behan's argument has some merit, especially when one compares the structure of the songs' lyrics; it becomes clear that Dylan lifted the structure of Behan's song to make the song relevant to the America of the Vietnam war era; Dylan's refusal to credit Behan's work (particularly the lyrical structure) was the main issue at stake and in response Behan took the view that the provenance of Dylan's entire body of work must be questioned. Behan also took issue with the Clancy Brothers, who chose not to sing the verse that was critical of Éamon de Valera)
Sullivan Ballou Letter - Ken Burns
(Probably one of the most beautiful letter to ever be written. You can still feel the emotion of the letter even after such a long time has passed. Sullivan Ballou was killed a week later at the first Battle of Bull Run, July 21, 1861.
Born March 28, 1829 in Smithfield, R.I., Ballou was educated at Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass.; Brown University in Providence, R.I. and the National Law School in Ballston, N.Y. He was admitted to the Rhode Island Bar in 1853.
Ballou devoted his brief life to public service. He was elected in 1854 as clerk of the Rhode Island House of Representatives, later serving as its speaker. He married Sarah Hart Shumway on October 15, 1855, and the following year saw the birth of their first child, Edgar. A second son, William, was born in 1859. Ballou immediately entered the military in 1861 after the war broke out. He became judge advocate of the Rhode Island militia and was 32 at the time of his death at the first Battle of Bull Run on July 21, 1861.
When he died, his wife was 24. She later moved to New Jersey to live out her life with her son, William, and never re-married. She died at age 80 in 1917. Sullivan and Sarah Ballou are buried next to each other at Swan Point Cemetery in Providence, RI. There are no known living descendants.
Ironically, Sullivan Ballou’s letter was never mailed. Although Sarah would receive other, decidedly more upbeat letters, dated after the now-famous letter from the battlefield, the letter in question would be found among Sullivan Ballou’s effects when Gov. William Sprague of Rhode Island traveled to Virginia to retrieve the remains of his state’s sons who had fallen in battle.)
The Legend of the Rebel Soldier - Country Gentlemen
(The Legend of the Rebel Soldier, was arranged /written in 1963 by the bluegrass singer Charlie Moore, who also recorded it along with other groups, including The Country Gentlemen, for which it became a signature song. According to Charlie Moore, the melody is based on the Irish fiddle tune and ballad Kevin Barry.
The Legend of the Rebel Soldier is a shorter and simpler rewrite of Bingen on the Rhine, a poem by Caroline Norton (1808-1877) and published circa 1847. According to Norm Cohen, Lady Caroline Norton's Bingen on the Rhine was set to music by Judson I. Hutchinson of the Hutchinson Family. It appears that Judson I. Hutchinson of the Hutchinson Family used the melody of Rolling Home to Dear Old England to set to the Bingen on the Rhine, lyrics.)
The Rebel Johnny Yuma - Johnny Cash
(A big hit for Cash, The story of a young ex-Confederate soldier at the end of the Civil War, all the episodes centered around Johnny Yuma’s attempt to find inner peace. He roamed all through the West of the 1860’s, still wearing parts of his uniform, keeping his journal, as he traveled from town to town looking for his own place in life. He had his own brand of law, and sometimes he had to use his sawed-off, double-barreled shotgun to prove it. He had high morals and principles, and as he worked in the various towns, he interjected himself into the plights of the citizens in an unofficial capacity, calling upon his morals and ethics to uphold justice.)
Twa Recruiting Sergeants – Corries
(Even before the 1745 Jacobite Uprising, the government were using the fighting qualities of the Highlanders in British regiments. Even so, they had to sometimes work hard to persuade the youg lads to sign up and take the king's shilling.)
War Of Ancient Days - Steve Young
(A beautiful song about ancient battles written by Steve Young a Georgia based writer and singer)
Was My Brother In The Battle - Kate & Anna McGarrigle
(Published by Horace Waters, N.Y., 1862 written by Stephen Foster. Among his most popular songs are: Oh! Susanna (1848), De Campton Races (1850), Old Folks at Home [aka Swanee River] (1851), My Old Kentucky Home, Good-Night! (1853), Jeanie With the Light Brown Hair (1854), Gentle Annie (1856), Beautiful Dreamer (1862), and The Voices That Are Gone (1865). The tale of a sister looking for her brother who she thinks died in a Civil War battle)