Pete Seeger

Songs of the Civil War [Folkways]

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Recorded as a tie-in with editor Irwin Silber's book of the same name (itself published to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the conflict), Songs of the Civil War presents 33 tracks on two discs performed by a variety of folksingers including Pete Seeger & the New Lost City Ramblers. Silber's book has words and music for more than another 90, but this subsection is a representative sampling of the kinds of songs that were inspired by the war, nearly all of them written during the era. (Irving Gordon's recently composed "Two Brothers" is the exception.) Some remain well-known, such as "John Brown's Body," "Battle Cry of Freedom," "When Johnny Comes Marching Home," and "Battle Hymn of the Republic," while others haven't been heard much in the ensuing century. Some were written by professional songwriters like George F. Root or Daniel Emmett, but many have unknown origins. The styles range from marching songs (note that all the best-remembered ones seem to be marches) to sentimental ballads, and the subject matter from general statements of patriotism to specific accounts of historical events. (Both "The Cumberland and the Merrimac" and "Cumberland Crew" recount the story of the sinking of a wooden Northern ship by the first Southern "ironclad.") More present the Yankee than the Confederate point of view, but the Rebels do get their say, from the stirring "Bonnie Blue Flag" to the slyly humorous "Richmond Is a Hard Road to Travel." The singers, accompanying themselves on folk instruments, sing in rough harmonies with untrained voices, providing a convincing approximation of what the songs may have sounded like when they were originally sung. Silber's notes place the songs in context, and the overall package makes for an unusually entertaining piece of aural history.

Track Listing

Title/Composer Performer Time
1
2:57
2 1:26
3
3:30
4 5:05
5
feat: Hermes Nye
1:12
6 3:40
7 1:05
8
3:00
9 1:46
10 2:07
11 2:01
12 5:31
13 3:05
14 2:30
15
3:00
16 4:14
17
feat: Hermes Nye
1:47
18
19 5:54
20
feat: Bill McAdoo
2:04
21 4:14
22
1:42
23
3:40
24
feat: Sandy Ives
4:42
25
3:25
26
feat: Bill McAdoo
1:29
27 4:01
28
feat: Bill McAdoo
1:51
29
3:07
30 2:37
31
2:59
32
feat: Hermes Nye
1:46
33 2:46
34 2:59
blue highlight denotes track pick