Junior Bridgeman's speech at the annual Kentucky Entrepreneur HOF.
Are the Stars and Bars Back Again? On Modern Civil War Songs
Faulkner wrote that line in 1951's Requiem for a Nun, 86 years after Robert E. Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox, Virginia, to end the Civil War. Another 65 years have passed, and yet it often seems that we're still fighting that war
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” He was referring broadly to the way that every experience we’ve ever absorbed and every family story we’ve ever heard are still at work in each present moment. But he was also referring to the specific way that the twin tragedies of slavery and the Civil War live on in each succeeding chapter of American history. Faulkner wrote that line in 1951’s Requiem for a Nun , 86 years after Robert E. Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox, Virginia, to end the Civil War. Another 65 years have passed, and yet it often seems that we’re still fighting that war: just witness the Confederate flags that often show up at rallies for Donald Trump. And those battles are waged in popular song as much as in any other corner of American culture. On “Surrender Under Protest,” a song from the Drive-By Truckers ’ new album, American Band , for example, Mike Cooley tackles the Southern myth of “The Lost Cause,” the idea that the Confederacy’s fight for independence was a noble cause, even in... “From the comfort zone of history,” Cooley sings over noisy guitars, “on the lips of trusted loved ones to the wounded, fragile minds of angry youth. This rewriting of history, Cooley sings, obscures “the wrongness of the sin,” the practice of some human beings owning other human beings as property. Despite subsequent efforts to recast the war as a struggle over state rights or taxation, modern historians cite mid-19th-century speeches and pamphlets that make clear that the “right” to own slaves was the state’s right most at stake. In his final verse, Cooley points out that the shame of defeat too often gets redirected as anger at the darker faces, who were slavery’s original victims. Yet as recently as 2013, a compilation of bluegrass songs about the Civil War was titled God Didn’t Choose Sides. What kind of God wouldn’t take a moral stand on the institution of slavery. The album offers a dozen newly written songs, each based on a specific, real-life individual involved in the war. Some of the songs are well done, especially when sung by the likes of Tim Stafford and Dale Ann Bradley, but by pretending there were no moral issues at stake in the Civil War, the disc presents that struggle as little different from a Dallas... This is the danger in creating songs, movies or novels about the Civil War. If you ignore slavery and its demise, you’re ignoring the war’s primary cause and most profound result. On the other hand, if you talk honestly about slavery and the Civil War you will be predictably vilified by true believers of the “lost cause. ” Like deniers of global warming (and they’re often the same people), these doubters cannot be dissuaded, no matter how overwhelming the evidence. Perhaps the most famous song about the war is “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,” written by a Canadian, Robbie Robertson , and sung by an Arkansan, Levon Helm. It’s a powerful evocation of defeat’s anguish and death’s finality. The song’s narrator, a Tennessee woodsman named Virgil Caine, is willing to accept his rural poverty and his near starvation in the final weeks of the war, but he can’t accept the death of his beloved brother, laid in his grave by a Yankee bullet. Virgil never mentions slavery, but it’s clear from his claim of chopping his own wood that he’s never owned one. The bells in Richmond are ringing and some people are singing, for those people have been liberated at last. Every defeat, the song implies, is someone else’s victory. Every victory is someone else’s defeat. Some of the best Civil War songs have been written in the past 30 years, since the chokehold of the “lost cause” myth has weakened and songwriters have felt freer to be honest about this turning point in American history. Dave Alvin’s 1991 “Andersonville,” for example, is narrated by a Yankee soldier in an outdoor Georgia prison. It doesn’t speak to the underlying issues of the war, but it does evoke the most ignoble aspects of the war. “I’m pulling worms out of the mud, ‘cause there’s nothing else to eat. “I killed a boy the other night who’d never even shaved,” Earle sings in the final verse. I ain’t never owned a slave. ” Peter Case’s 1995 “Wilderness” connects past sins with more recent ones by having Robert E. Lee call in napalm airstrikes against the Union Army at the Battle of the Wilderness. Like “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,” the Brothers Phelps’ “Lookout Mountain” is a.
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10 fascinating facts about Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant
The names Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee are connected through their Civil War bond and the historic surrender, 151 years ago today, at Appomattox ...
Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee - YouTube
A presentation comparing Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee.
10 fascinating facts about Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant
The names Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee are connected through their Civil War bond and the historic surrender, 151 years ago today, at Appomattox Court House.
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