Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Lest We Forget the Fallen

This was written by one of the most prolific composers of the Civil War era. George Frederick Root wrote many very popular songs that were sung by both sides of the conflict. Tramp, Tramp, Tramp, the Boys are Marching; Just Before the Battle, Mother; Battle Cry of Freedom to name only three.

For the Ken Burns documentary soundtrack of The Civil War I had the honor of performing this song with the beautifully voiced Kathy Mattea and Johnny Hartford. I played guitar and sang bass. (in my own sweet way, the producer liked it because he said it sounded like a family gathering)

the tune is HERE

The Vacant Chair (We Shall Meet But We Shall Miss Him)
(Words: Henry S. Washburn, Music: George F. Root)

We shall meet, but we shall miss him
There will be one vacant chair
We shall linger to caress him
While we breathe our evening prayer;
When a year ago we gathered
Joy was in his mild blue eye,
But a golden chord is severed
And our hopes in ruin lie.

cho: We shall meet, but we shall miss him
There will be one vacant chair
We shall linger to caress him
While we breathe our evening prayer;

At our fireside, sad and lonely,
Often will the bosom swell,
At remembrance of the story
How our noble Willie fell;
How he strove to bear our banner
Through the thickest of the fight,
And uphold our country's honor
In the strength of manhood's night.

True, they tell us wreaths of glory
Ever more will deck his brow,
But this soothes the anguish only
Sweeping o'er our heartstrings now.
Sleep today, Oh early fallen,
In thy green and narrow bed,
Dirges from the pine and cypress,
Mingle with the tears we shed.

I got to tell the Democratic candidate for the Senate here that I was tired of playing the harp at funerals. I want to play electric guitars at Quinceneras and goat BBQ's.

I am very tired of this today. Yet another gig I didn't want for a young man I knew. I think I'll fit this one into ceremony.

So. Very. Tired.

Big Brass Blog


Blogger Pogo said...

Damn. I hope you get to put the harp away and play the electric guitar.

11:28 AM  
Blogger Camera Obscura said...

Civil War-era tunes and hymns hold a special place for me. I don't know if I like the seeming simplicity of the melodies and harmonies, or if I've got more Irish in me than previously suspected -- I love Siúil a Rún, either the original or the American Civil War lyrics.

1:06 PM  
Anonymous dazho diihil go'ashee said...

Wish I could hear it or remember it from the Ken Burn's series. One of my favorite parts of that terribly sad series was listening to the rich dialect of the Memphis historian, Shelby Foote. I have some kin that farm cotton not too far from Memphis and they all sound like him. Amazing how over relatively short distances the local inflection can change so much.

I hope too that soon you can pull out your electrified guitar and let loose. I have one ear perked up just in case.

1:53 PM  
Anonymous dazho diihil go'ashee said...

I'll comment here to a comment of yours over at the BBB because I don't want to waer out my own post with too many of my comments.

The term "halfbreed" is to me akin to "nigger", I've never seen either of them used in a manner that contained one iota of respect. They are labels used to simply abuse and demean someone. And I agree, they're fight'in words. But never forget, you never kicked a pedigreed ass, all of us are mutts. From my understanding the most pure race or tribe or whatever of humanity may be the aboriginals in Australia. By virtue of their isolation for so long. Myself, I'm a European mutt, with no chance for a pedigree. How any groug can consider that they have any measure of "purity" escapes me.

I always remember that Columbus, who started the decimation of an entire hemisphere of this planet for his "god" stupidly thought he was in or approching India. What a dumbass. The Greeks had determined the true circumference of the earth some 3000 years earlier.

So many groups wish for and even demand appologies from another that raped them at one time or another. Has any "white" person ever appoligized to the natives on this continent?

I also wish to add that I find you and so many others that I have run across at BBB, blondesense, Dark Wraith and elsewhere to be some of the most intelligent, articulate and caring people I have ever met. Sometimes I feel very fortunate.

2:22 PM  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

one of the things that still amazes me, even in a state with a high percentage of native americans in the population as arizona is that whole notion that the arrivals of the europeans and americans was this big, uplifting thing for us. but, you're very right about us all being mutts. when i'm in one of my better moods i tell the folks who are all wrapped up on the pedigree "i'm mixed race, my children are mixed race, my grandchildren are mixed race. we are gleefully fucking you and your kind into irrelevance."

one of the really cool things about the civil war musically was that both sides sang pretty much the same songs. the main body of popular music was shared across the lines. one of the most telling things before the final day of the alamo was what the regimental bands played that morning. the mexicans played "el deguello" (no quarter). the texians (rumour has it that davey crockett himself played fiddle) played the irish air "will ye come to the bower."

3:28 PM  
Anonymous darryl pearce said...

...The Vacant Chair is a very poignant, haunting song for me and I've referred to it ...a lot (especially in regards to military deaths).

...God's speed.

3:43 PM  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

i become completely apolitical at times like this. a fine young man is dead. i am sad. if the minister wants to say "george w. bush is a great leader and this young man's death was a sacrifice on the altar of freedom and democracy god bless dick cheney's heart." i will keep my head bowed and my fucking mouth shut. if his parents and family want to believe any thing, however foolish and wrong headed it might seem to me, it's none of my fucking business. i want them to be comforted, somewhat, somehow. harps are called for and i will go. what ever they wish is my command.

4:36 PM  
Anonymous blackdog said...

If you are really unlucky, you might find me sniffing around el rancho harpo sometime soon. I find that your comment that "we will fuck you into irrelevance" to be big medicine. It works.

Wasen't that the message from the 60's? Make love, not war? It sure is more fun, although I can only really mention my actions from one side of the equation. Thanks to so many, and the luck of the time and draw, i never had to serve in the military.I'm not the least bit ashamed, but I am ashamed at how some of our idiot "leaders" so easily send our troops into fruitless situations. I wish the troops could have a really relevant press conference with these bastards and bitches with their side arms present.

Get a good nights sleep Minstrel, many of us rely on you.

6:14 PM  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

i wouldn't call that unlucky in the slightest. we have our own set of water issues out here. people still shit and piss and need people who know how to deal with that so everybody doesn't get all sick and die. there's a lot of growth happening. i'm not how wild about that i am, it seems to be growing like topsy in uncle tom's cabin (I jes' growed!)

7:01 PM  
Anonymous blackdog said...

You are one sharp feller Sir. With a tip of the hat and a tip of the brew, and a shared pipe if I could only find it!

2:27 PM  
Anonymous blackdog said...

I don't know if I have the right to use the apache name you have supplied, I wish I did but I am not sure at all. But thank you for the effort. I do appreciate it. And I will never forget it. As everything that I know about native culture on this continent, I fail. But I still listen and read. I really wish I could with a clear conscience. It's a beautiful name.

dazho diihil go'ashee

I wish I could hear how the pronunciation was. I have an ides, but I bet i'm off a bit.

I remember moving to California some time ago. I stopped in (the eagles song!!) Arizona for gas and a native guy with a fierce countanence came up to me. Being from where I had come from, I felt a little like I was on the wrong planet, but my mind was being expanded. He was as gentle as a kitten, and seemed to get somewhat of a kick by knowing that he had spooked me a bit.

But you know, that guy was a native American and was also an incredible example of male humanity. Would have made a great statue in the Parthenon or anywhere else. That's why he startled me so, he was beautiful.

7:01 PM  
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3:56 PM  

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