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  • Writer's pictureThe Rough & Tumble

The Battle of New Orleans

Not every week is public domain, we guess. Because sometimes, there are songs that stick in our brains like they used to stick in Mallory's Pap-Pap's cassette player in his blue Chevy pick-up. Songs like "The Battle of New Orleans" performed by Johnny Horton. As we've been tracing our music history steps, we've been also tracing our personal history steps, and in this case coinciding with our American history steps. While Mallory has an affinity for this song as noted by Scott for the number of times she sings it when crossing-- or getting near, or even at the mention of-- the Mississippi River, this more recent tune (1936, though first recorded in 1957) has its own little history lesson thanks to, well, a history teacher.

This is a tune written in 1936 by Jimmy Driftwood and later recorded by Johnny Horton. Jimmy got his start, wikipedia tells us, playing his grandfather's homemade guitar, a very special instrument whose neck was made from a fence rail, its sides from an old ox yoke, and the head and bottom from the headboard of his grandmother's bed. The concept being; if you can make that sound good, you can make anything sound good. Driftwood was a schoolteacher and taught his students by writing and performing songs about American history and "The Battle of New Orleans" was written to help his high school students become interested in the event. During his time as a schoolteacher, he wrote hundreds of songs like this, and became so good at it, he eventually got a publishing and recording deal in Nashville and became one of the most recorded songwriters of his time, even winning a grammy in 1960 for song of the year.

We hope you are making history out there, too, in whatever capacity you can. It's time for Double Americana!

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