Something for the weekend. It seems appropriate for this Labor Day Weekend to recall some of the unsung heroes of World War II, the Merchant Marine. Along with their British colleagues in the Merchant Service, and the merchant fleets of the other allied nations, the Merchant Marine manned the merchant vessels that delivered supplies and troops through the war torn waters of the Atlantic and Pacific. Technically civilians, one out of 26 merchant mariners died in action during the war, giving them a higher fatality rate than any of the armed services. Read the rest of this entry »
Something for the weekend. Johnny Cash puts his own unforgettable stamp on the Wabash Cannonball. The song originates from 1882 and is attributed to AJ Roff. Many lyrics have been added to it over the years. Here is the version sung by the Carter family in 1929. Read the rest of this entry »
Something for the weekend. Rule Britannia. I grew up with a bit of a love-hate relationship with Great Britain and her now vanished Empire. On my father’s side the family had been in America since before the Revolution, except for the Cherokees who had been here I assume for 30,000 years, and the family could have cared less about Great Britain one way or the other. On my mother’s side however things were different and more complex. My mother, an immigrant who became a naturalized citizen, was proud Newfoundlander Irish. Her Great-Grandfather, who regarded pews and kneelers as perfidious Protestant innovations and would kneel on bare stone floors into his eighties in the back of the church he attended during Mass, had come to Newfoundland from Ireland and kept alive in my Mom a memory of Ireland. She played in our home as I was growing up all the old Irish rebel songs, and part of the heritage I imbibed did not stint on remembering the grievances of the Irish against the English. On the other hand, my Mom loved Queen Elizabeth II and from my Mom I developed a life long interest in British history and politics. My Great-Uncle Bill on my mother’s side served in the infantry in the Royal Army from 1939-1945 joining up, he said, “Because someone has to teach the Limies how to fight!’
Therefore on this blog I happily play both the Irish rebel songs and an occasional salute to the land of the Queen my sainted mother loved. In regard to the vanished Empire, I am fully cognizant of the wrongs that were committed by it, but I believe perhaps this section from The Life of Brian might be applied to the British, as well as the Roman, Empire, in some ways. Read the rest of this entry »
Something for the weekend. The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down. Not period music of course, but few songs better evoke the despair of Confederates in the aftermath of defeat. The above version is the original one sung by The Band. Here is the version that became the signature song of Joan Baez.
(Biretta tip: PolitiZoid)