2

Sam Grant, the Beatles and the Internet

I feel that we are on the eve of a new era, when there is to be great harmony between the Federal and Confederate. I cannot stay to be a living witness to the correctness of this prophecy; but I feel it within me that it is to be so. The universally kind feeling expressed for me at a time when it was supposed that each day would prove my last, seemed to me the beginning of the answer to “Let us have peace.”  

Ulysses S. Grant, written just before his death

 

Something for the weekend.  Quotations from Ulysses S. Grant to the Beatles song  In My Life.  A follow up to my post on Robert E. Lee, the Beatles and the Internet.  Another demonstration of what a wild and wacky place the internet truly is!

 

Few men in American history have gone from complete obscurity to being a  central figure in the life of the nation faster than Ulysses Simpson Grant.  Known as Sam Grant by his West Point friends, his first two initials making Sam an inevitable nickname, Grant had an unerring ability to fail at everything he put his hand to, except for war, his marriage and his last gallant race against the Grim Reaper, as he was dying of cancer, to finish his memoirs and provide financially for his wife and children.  Most great figures in our history have known success more than failure.  Not so Sam Grant.  He would encounter humiliating defeats throughout his life, from beginning to end.

 

At the beginning of the Civil War, he was a clerk, barely able to support his family.  Seemingly a dull plodder, but possessed of iron determination and an uncanny ability to never let the trees obscure the forest;  happily married and a firm believer in God, but subject to bouts of depression when he would grasp for the bottle;  the shabby little man who, incredibly, ended up winning the greatest war in American history.

 

His men didn’t hold him in awe as Lee’s men did Lee;  Grant was far too common and prosaic a figure for that.  However, they did respect him, as this section of Stephen Vincent Benet’s epic poem on the Civil War, John Brown’s Body, indicates: Continue Reading

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Te Deum, Triumphalism and History

Something for the weekend.  Te Deum (To God) sung by the Benedictine monks of Saint Maurice and Saint Maur.  A song sung by Catholics in moments of triumph and thanksgiving, it was probably written by Saint Nicetas in the late Fourth century or early Fifth century.

One of the swear words common since Vatican II in the Catholic Church is triumphalism.  We are to avoid it at all costs, and it is a bad, bad thing.  In a small way this makes sense.  The Church is both a divine and a human institution.  As a divine institution the Church is always victorious and triumphant as result of the Triumph of the Cross, and proceeds serenely through time and eternity.  As  a human institution the Church consists of we sinful individuals here on Earth, and meets with victories and defeats as she seeks to spread the message of Christ, often on very stony fields indeed.  To view the Church here on Earth through rose colored glasses and to assume that simply because the ultimate victory will be claimed by the Church against the Gates of Hell that all is well within the Church is to mistake the Church Triumphant for the Church Militant.

Continue Reading

5

Over There

When I was 12 or so, my father picked up a newly released album of World War One music entitled, after the most famous American song of the war, Over There. It is now long out of print (though still occasionally available used). As is sometimes the case with highly singable songs one heard as a youth, several of these songs had been on my mind lately, and so when the breakdown of the dishwasher the other night set everyone to washing and drying dishes, I put it on and we sang along to the oddly cheerful songs inspired by one of the world’s darker interludes.

“Over There”, written in 1917 by George M. Cohan (I didn’t like the historical versions I found on YouTube as much, so I made my own with the Feinstein rendition of the song.)


Continue Reading

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Saving Civilization One Word at a Time

 

 

 

 

 

 

For the end of the world was long ago,

And all we dwell today

As children of some second birth,

Like a strange people left on earth

After a judgment day.

For the end of the world was long ago,

When the ends of the world waxed free,

When Rome was sunk in a waste of slaves,

And the sun drowned in the sea.

When Caesar’s sun fell out of the sky

And whoso hearkened right

Could only hear the plunging

Of the nations in the night.

G.K. Chesterton

 

Something for the Weekend.  From the endlessly talented songsters at Music For History Lovers, Illuminated Manuscripts sung to the tune of Nowhere Man by the Beatles.  Monks toiling in Scriptoriums in monasteries throughout Europe during the Middle Ages and thereby rescuing some of the classic works of Antiquity is  a cliche, but a true cliche.  When the secular world of the Western Empire dissolved in chaos and ruin following the babarian invasions, it was the Church that rescued the lamp of knowledge.  Only an institution like the Church, a rock in the river of time, could century following century ensure the survival and copying of manuscripts that preserved a precious fraction of the writings of Greece and Rome.  Jerusalem rescued Athens. Continue Reading

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Remember

Something for the weekend.  Scenes from the American Revolution set to the music of the film National Treaure.  This Fourth of July weekend we should recall our heritage, especially the eight long years of war it took to achieve American independence.  We should also remember these words of our second President John Adams in a letter to his wife Abigail on April 26, 1777: Continue Reading

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O’, I’m a Good Old Rebel

Something for the weekend.  O’, I’m a Good Old Rebel by Major James Randolph.  This rendition is sung by Bobby Horton, who has fought a one man crusade to bring Civil War music to modern audiences.  It is the most moving rendition I have heard of this song, with Horton conveying well the bitterness and despair felt by almost all Confederates after the conclusion of the War.  The author served on the staff of General J.E.B. Stuart.  The song has always been popular in the South and was a favorite of Queen Victoria’s son, the future Edward VII, who referred to it as “that fine American song with cuss words in it.” Continue Reading

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What Wondrous Love is This?

 

Something for the weekend.  What Wondrous Love is This? and the Pieta.  After Michelangelo completed it and had the Pieta moved to display it, the workmen who did it refused to accept a penny for their hard labor, saying they would get their reward in Heaven.  I pray that they did, and I pray we all meet a similar fate. Continue Reading

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Lilliburlero

Something for the weekend.   The lilting strains of Lilliburlero from the classic movie Barry Lyndon (1975). 

The song originated during the Not So Glorious Revolution of 1688, after the usurper William of Holland, with the help of English traitors, chased James II, the rightful King of England, from his throne due to James’ Catholicism.  Like most of the Stuart monarchs, the bad points of James tended to outweigh his good points, but the obloquy heaped upon his reign in most of the histories of this period is largely a function of partisan distortion and outright religious bigotry.  On the other hand, Jacobite views of this period of British history, which goes to 1746 and the smashing of the army of Bonnie Prince Charlie, the grandson of James II at Culloden, tend greatly to exaggerate the virtues of the “Kings across the waters” who, Old Pretender (James II), Young Pretender (James III) and Bonnie Prince Charlie, were basically selfish blockheads who probably would have been disasters as monarchs if they had succeeded in regaining the throne.  History, alas, often gives us unpalatable alternatives. Continue Reading

Charlemagne

 

Something for the weekend.  Charlemagne by the endlessly talented folks at music for history lovers, sung to the tune of Call Me by Blondie.

Charles the Great.  He found the crown of the Roman emperors lying in the gutter of time, and by his efforts, against the odds, restored, in alliance with the popes, a Western Empire.  Charlemagne laid the foundation that allowed Catholic Europe to survive the siege by Islam and to ultimately defeat the Vikings through conversion.  In his reign Western Europe began waking from the long night described by Chesterton:

For the end of the world was long ago,
When the ends of the world waxed free,
When Rome was sunk in a waste of slaves,
And the sun drowned in the sea.

When Caesar’s sun fell out of the sky
And whoso hearkened right
Could only hear the plunging
Of the nations in the night.

When the ends of the earth came marching in
To torch and cresset gleam.
And the roads of the world that lead to Rome
Were filled with faces that moved like foam,
Like faces in a dream.

And men rode out of the eastern lands,
Broad river and burning plain;
Trees that are Titan flowers to see,
And tiger skies, striped horribly,
With tints of tropic rain.

Where Ind’s enamelled peaks arise
Around that inmost one,
Where ancient eagles on its brink,
Vast as archangels, gather and drink
The sacrament of the sun.

And men brake out of the northern lands,
Enormous lands alone,
Where a spell is laid upon life and lust
And the rain is changed to a silver dust
And the sea to a great green stone.

And a Shape that moveth murkily
In mirrors of ice and night,
Hath blanched with fear all beasts and birds,
As death and a shock of evil words
Blast a man’s hair with white.

And the cry of the palms and the purple moons,
Or the cry of the frost and foam,
Swept ever around an inmost place,
And the din of distant race on race
Cried and replied round Rome.

And there was death on the Emperor
And night upon the Pope: Continue Reading

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1988: Best Year Ever!

Advisory Warning: The video is rated R for skimpy clothing and suggestive sexual behavior.  Youth should receive permission from their mother or father to view this video.

I’m a sucker for anything ’80s as you can tell, but you have to admit that it was pretty tamed back then compared to today.  You could say that the 1980s today is what the 1950s were back then, but much more fun!

Take Me Home Tonight is a movie in in the summer of 1988 as it winds down.  Three friends on the verge of adulthood attend an out-of-control party in celebration of their last night of unbridled youth. Starring Topher Grace, Anna Faris, Dan Fogler and Teresa Palmer.  Take Me Home Tonight is a raunchy, romantic and ultimately touching blast from the past set to an awesome soundtrack of timeless rock and hip-hop hits.

Raunchy is an understatement.

Nonetheless I probably wouldn’t let anyone under the age of 17 watch it.

Here’s the trailer.

Continue Reading

Viva Roma No. V!

 

Something for the weekend.  From those endlessly talented folks at History for Music Lovers, Viva Roma No. V to the tune of Mambo No. 5.

Civis Romanus sum said Saint Paul, or its Greek equivalent, and even while Christians were savagely persecuted by the Roman Empire many of them remarked about what a wonder in human affairs it was.

There is also another and a greater necessity for our offering prayer in behalf of the emperors, nay, for the complete stability of the empire, and for Roman interests in general. For we know that a mighty shock impending over the whole earth—in fact, the very end of all things threatening dreadful woes—is only retarded by the continued existence of the Roman empire. We have no desire, then, to be overtaken by these dire events; and in praying that their coming may be delayed, we are lending our aid to Rome’s duration.

Tertuallian, Christian Apologetics

 Saint Augustine, living in the twilight of the Roman Empire in the West, with savage Vandals besieging Hippo at the time of his death, in his City of God raised the eyes of men to the imperishable City of God, while also yet acknowledging that God was the cause of the rise of the Roman Empire, along with the traditional Roman virtues: Continue Reading

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Hannibal and 16 Tons

Something for the weekend.  A song about Hannibal to the tune of 16 Tons.   Hattip to Hank at Eclectic Meanderings.  I have read quite a bit about the Punic Wars, but I have never seen information on them conveyed more fetchingly than when sung by “Anna Domino”, as she does her dance of the elephant veil and sings her song.  What a hoot!  This is one of a series of videos put together by history for music lovers, and long may they prosper! Continue Reading

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The Vacant Chair

Something for the weekend.  The incomparable Kathy Mattea singing the Civil War song The Vacant Chair.  Originally written in 1862 to commemorate Second Lieutenant John William Grout, 15th Massachusetts, who was killed at age eighteen at Ball’s Bluff, one of the early battles of the War, it proved immensely popular North and South as the nation eventually mourned approximately 620,000 vacant chairs. Continue Reading

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Marines’ Hymn

Some people work an entire lifetime and wonder if they ever made a difference to the world.? But the Marines don’t have that problem.

Ronald Reagan

Something for the weekend.  The oldest of the official songs of a branch of the US military, the composer of the Marines’ Hymn is unknown, but is thought to have been a Marine serving in Mexico during the Mexican War, hence the “Halls of Montezuma”.  The music is taken from the Gendarmes Duet from the Opera Genevieve de Brabant, written by Jacques Offenback in 1859.

Prior to 1929 the first verse used to end:

” Admiration of the nation,
we’re the finest ever seen;
And we glory in the title
Of United States Marines”

which the then Commandant of the Marine Corps changed to the current lines.  On November 21, 1942,  Commandant Thomas Holcomb approved a change in the words of the first verse’s fourth line from “On the land as on the sea” to “In the air, on land, and sea”.

My favorite rendition of the hymn is in the movie The Sands of Iwo Jima (1949)  This film earned John Wayne his first Oscar nomination as best actor.  (Broderick Crawford would win for his stunning performance in All The King’s Men.)   Wayne was initially reluctant to take the role, partly because he had not fought in World War II, and partly because he saw script problems and didn’t like the character of Sergeant Styker as initially written in the screen play.  (There is evidence that Wayne, 34 at the time of Pearl Harbor, and with 3 kids, did attempt to volunteer in 1943 for the Marine Corps with assignment to John Ford’s OSS Field Photographic Unit, but was turned down.) 

Wayne was convinced to take the role because the film had the enthusiastic backing of the Marine Corps, which viewed it as a fitting tribute to the Marines who fought in the Pacific, and to help combat a move in Congress to abolish the Corps.  Marine Commandant Clifton B. Cates went to see Wayne to request that he take the role and Wayne immediately agreed.  (Thus began a long association of John Wayne with the Marine Corps, including Wayne narrating a tribute to Marine Lieutenant General Chesty Puller.)  

 Appearing in the film were several Marine veterans of the Pacific, including Colonel David Shoup, who earned a Medal of Honor for his heroism at Tarawa, and who would later serve as a Commandant of the Corps, and Lieutenant Colonel Henry Crow who led a Marine battalion at Tarawa.  The Marine Corp hymn is sung in the film after the death of Wayne’s character, one of ten films in which a Wayne character died, and as the raising of the flag is recreated. 

 Taking part in the flag raising were Rene Gagnon, Ira Hayes and John Bradley, the three survivors of the six flag raisers who survived the battle.  (The three men who raised the flag and subsequently died in the battle were Franklin Sousely, Harlon Block and Michael Strank.)  (First Lieutenant Harold Schrier, who led the flag raising party that raised the first, smaller, flag on Mount Suribachi, and who was awarded a Navy Cross and a Silver Star for his heroism on Iwo Jima, also appeared in the film.)  The flag on top of Mount Suribachi could be seen across the island, and was greeted with cheers by the Marines and blaring horns by the ships of the Navy.  A mass was said on Mount Suribachi at the time of the flag raising and I have written about that here.  Go here to see the ending of the Sands of Iwo Jima and listen to the Marines’ Hymn. Continue Reading

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Chester

Something for the weekend.  Chester by William Billings.  During the American Revolution, this was the unofficial national anthem for the new United States.  As we participate in elections it is good to recall the struggles throughout our history that bequeathed to us the freedoms we enjoy today.  We stand on the shoulders of the giants who preceded us, and we should never forget that. Continue Reading

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Conquest

Something for the weekend.  Conquest theme from the 1947 film Captain From Castile.  As all University of Southern California alums know, the work was composed by Alfred Newman who bequeathed all rights in the work to the University to play at football games.

The movie Captain From Castile, based on the novel of the same name by Samuel Shellenbarger, is quite worth watching.  Tyrone Power plays Pedro de Vargas, a nobleman on the run from the inquisition who becomes one of Hernan Cortez’ captains.  Cortez is portrayed by Caesar Romero who steals every scene he is in.  He captures Cortez perfectly:  larger than life, endlessly innovative, always optimistic no matter the challenge, and overflowing with raw charisma.  The film ends before the campaign to conquer Tenochtitlan which is a disappointment. Continue Reading

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Yes, It Is a Weird Al Weekend

I’m coming out of the closet, I’m a “Weird Al” Yankovic fan.  I don’t listen to him much these days, but I do keep up with some of his latest hits like my post from yesterday.

So here are some of his more enjoyable hits that some may not be aware of…

[Warning: The following videos are without profane lyrics or any form of nudity.  You may finally realize that you can enjoy “contemporary” or “pop” music without all the vileness that emanates from the black hole that is MTV.]

In 2006 AD the music video “White & Nerdy” re-introduced “Weird Al” back into the mainstream of American culture.  This video was his first Top 40 single since 1992’s “Smells Like Nirvana”.  It also eclipsed the greatest single he ever had, “Eat It”.

In between those to seminal hits he has been very active releasing albums every other year or so, but this new hit of his re-established himself as an icon of parody videos and clean fun.

“White & Nerdy” is the second single from “Weird Al’s” album Straight Outta Lynwood.  It parodies the song “Ridin'” by Chamillionaire and Krayzie Bone. (OK, I’ll admit it, I have no idea who Chamillionaire and Krayzie Bone are, but that’s what it said in Wikipedia)

This song makes fun of nerds everywhere from Houston, Texas to Springfield, Illinois.   It includes constant references to stereotypically “nerdy” things, such as collecting comic books, playing Dungeons & Dragons (D&D), and editing Wikipedia, as well as stereotypically “white” things, like watching Happy Days and playing ping pong.

Chamillionaire himself put “White & Nerdy” on his official MySpace page, and commented that he enjoys the parody. In an interview, he also stated he was pleasantly surprised by “Weird Al”‘s rapping ability, saying: “He’s actually rapping pretty good on it, it’s crazy … I didn’t know he could rap like that.”

Enjoy the cameo’s, especially from Donny Osmond!

Yes, there are more funny and highly entertaining video’s from Weird Al.  I compiled a short list of his most creative hits.

Continue Reading

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The Merchant Marine

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.   Continue Reading

2

Rule Britannia

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. Continue Reading

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And The Money Kept Rolling In

Something for the weekend.  And the Money Kept Rolling In from the musical Evita.  I have always loved Evita, a rousing extravaganza that warns of the dangers of electing charismatic clueless demagogues who then bankrupt a nation with hare-brained policies.  The 1996 film version managed the major miracle of being the only film featuring Madonna Louise Ciccone that I can watch without brain cells dying en masse. Continue Reading

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Stonewall Jackson’s Way

Something for the weekend.  Stonewall Jackson’s Way, sung by the endlessly talented Bobby Horton who has waged a one man crusade to bring Civil War music to modern audiences.

Of Thomas Jonathan Jackson, nicknamed Stonewall by General Barnard Bee at the battle of Bull Run, it was said he lived by the New Testament and fought by the Old.  Certainly throughout his life he was a convinced Christian.  As a young man he would attend services of various Christian denominations.  In Mexico, during his service in the Mexican War, he attended mass, although sadly he did not convert to Catholicism.  Instead he eventually became a Presbyterian.  His Bible was his constant companion, and he would often speak of God and theological matters in private conversation.

Jackson in his professional life was a soldier.  Just before the Civil War he was a professor of natural and experimental philosophy (science) and artillery instruction at the Virginia Military Institute.  As a teacher he made a good soldier.  His lectures were rather dry.  If his students seemed to fail to grasp a lecture, he would repeat it the next day, word for word.

His home life was a mixture of sorrow and joy.  His first wife died in childbirth along with their still-born son, a tragedy that would have crushed many a man less iron-willed than  Jackson.  His second marriage, like his first, was happy, but heartache also haunted it.  A daughter died shortly after birth in 1858.  A second daughter was born in 1862, shortly before Jackson’s own death in 1863.

He and his second wife established and taught a Sunday school for black slaves.  At the time it was against the law in Virginia to teach slaves to read, but apparently that is precisely what Jackson and his wife did.   One of the last letters he ever posted was his regular contribution he mailed off throughout the war for the financial support of the Sunday school for slaves he and his wife had founded. Continue Reading

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Cool, Considerate Man

Something for the weekend.  Cool Considerate Men from the musical 1776.  I have always loved the musical 1776, although I recognize that the actual history and what is depicted in the musical often part company.  Perhaps the greatest divergence is in the case of John Dickinson, a member of Congress from Pennsylvania, who is represented in the play as an arch reactionary and  Tory. Dickinson, as the play rightly indicates at the end, enlisted to fight in the Revolution, and had the odd military career of serving  first as a militia Brigadier General and then as a militia Private.  During the War he also served as President (Governor) of Delaware and as President (Governor) of Pennsylvania.  After the War he served as a delegate from Pennsylvania at the Constitutional Convention, and supported the ratification with a series of articles written under the pen name Fabius.

Dickinson mainly opposed an immediate declaration of independence in 1776 because he wished the Articles of Confederation, which he had largely drafted, to be first sent to the 13 colonies and ratified by them, and for the colonies to obtain a powerful foreign ally before such a declaration was made to the World.  Dickinson was a firm patriot willing to risk his own skin in the War, so his opposition to the Declaration of Independence did no long term damage to his reputation during his life.

On July 1, he made a speech against immediate independence.  The debate was apparently fierce while he spoke, and thus the speech has a fragmentary quality: Continue Reading

6

Illinois State Song

Something for the weekend.   The State Song of Illinois with scenes from my alma mater, the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana.  My wife and I took our son down for his freshman orientation this week, some 35 years after I went through it. 

Another rendition sung on the steps of the Old State Capitol in Springfield.

Illinois is a wonderful state that has been long cursed with one of the most corrupt state governments in the nation.  Past time for the voters of the Land of Lincoln to correct this disgrace. Continue Reading

Land of Hope and Glory

Something for the weekend.  I cannot leave our loyal readers with only the caterwauling of Nero/Ustinov as their musical treat for the weekend.  My oldest son recently graduated from high school and Pomp and Circumstance, as usual, was played.  In England they have the patriotic song Land of Hope and Glory set to the same tune.  Here it is sung by the legendary Vera Lynn, whose unforgettable voice  did so much to keep up the spirit of the British forces during WWII that she was acclaimed as the Sweetheart of the British Forces, a title which has recently passed to the Welsh songstress Katherine Jenkins for her tireless efforts to entertain the British troops serving in Afghanistan. Continue Reading

2

Kelly’s Irish Brigade

I have had a few posts, here, here  and here, on the famous Irish Brigade that fought for the Union in the Army of the Potomac.  There were however other Irish units, North and South.  This song celebrates Kelly’s Irish Brigade that fought for the Confederacy in the West.  The Brigade was actually a regiment, the Washington Blues, organized by Joseph Kelly, a grocer in Saint Louis, prior to the Civil War.  Kelly was an Irish immigrant as were most of the men in his regiment.  They provided good service for the Confederacy, and you may read about them here. Continue Reading

1

When You Believe

Something for the weekend.  When You Believe  from the Prince of Egypt.  Whenever I see this video I always recall my favorite poem by William Blake:

Mock On, Mock On, Voltaire, Rousseau 

 
 
Mock on, mock on, Voltaire, Rousseau;
Mock on, mock on; ’tis all in vain!
You throw the sand against the wind,
And the wind blows it back again.
And every sand becomes a gem
Reflected in the beams divine;
Blown back they blind the mocking eye,
But still in Israel’s paths they shine.

The Atoms of Democritus
And Newton’s Particles of Light
Are sands upon the Red Sea shore,
Where Israel’s tents do shine so bright. 
 

5

The Wild Colonial Boy

Something for the weekend.  A very spirited rendition of The Wild Colonial Boy by the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem on the Ed Sullivan Show on March 13, 1965.  to those of you who were not alive then, it is hard to convey the cultural impact of the Ed Sullivan Show in the America of that time.   Suffice it to say that until the late Sixties, Sullivan was the cultural gatekeeper of America.  Until a new entertainer appeared on Sullivan’s show, he or she had not yet achieved mainstream acceptance.  Today a show having that type of influence would be impossible. Continue Reading