Weekend Open Thread   7 comments

I hope all of you enjoy your long weekend. I will be back on Tuesday for more market stuff. In the meantime, here is a special weekend open thread, where you can discuss any topic you like.

In honor of Memorial Day, which is an American holiday to honor our fallen soldiers (it was started after the Civil War), I offer some of the best war time songs in history.

One of the earliest American war songs which I am aware of is The Yellow Rose of Texas, which was allegedly from the time of the Texas War of Independence. According to Wikipedia, there is a legend around the song:

The song is believed by some to have been based on a Texas legend from the days of the Texas War of Independence. According to the legend, Emily D. West (also known as “Emily Morgan”) was seized by Mexican forces during the looting of Galveston. She seduced General Antonio López de Santa Anna, President of Mexico and commander of the Mexican forces. The legend credits her supposed seduction of Santa Anna with lowering the guard of the Mexican army and facilitating the Texan victory in the Battle of San Jacinto waged in 1836 near present-day Houston. Santa Anna’s opponent was General Sam Houston, who won the battle literally in minutes, and with almost no casualties. West was a mulatto, of mixed race ancestry. The original lyrics refer to her as the “yellow” rose, in keeping with the historical use of term “high yellow” as a description of light skin among Black and/or multiracial people in the South.

Historians assert that if West was with Santa Anna, it was not by her choice, nor did she play any part in deciding the battle. The seduction legend was largely unknown until the publication in the 1950s of a version of the lyrics based on William Bollaert’s account. Bollaert, a British subject, spent two years in Texas—1842 to 1844—and was a prolific writer, publishing more than 80 articles on various subjects.

The basic facts are that Emily West, a free person of color, migrated to Texas from New York City in late 1835 as an indentured servant under contract to the agent James Morgan. She was born free in New Haven, Connecticut. Sources describe her as a teen or as a woman of twenty. She was to work as a housekeeper at the New Washington Association’s hotel, near what was then called New Washington and is now Morgan’s Point. Historians say she became known by West’s surname, as was the custom at the time for indentured servants and slaves.

Santa Anna reportedly saw West in April 1836 when he invaded New Washington prior to the Battle of San Jacinto. West and other black servants were taken to his camp, along with some white residents who were captured. According to legend, Santa Anna was with her when Texan General Sam Houston’s troops arrived, forcing him to flee suddenly without weapons or armor and enabling his capture the next day.

Whether this is true is unknown (there were a lot of articles written in the 19th century which were of dubious accuracy). What is known is the song was popular among Confederate troops during the U.S. Civil War, where the song even got an additional verse:

And now I’m going southward, for my heart is full of woe,
I’m going back to Georgia, to find my Uncle Joe,
You may talk about your Beauregard, and sing of Bobby Lee,
But the gallant Hood of Texas played hell in Tennessee.

My favorite version, and probably most reverent, was the one by Hoyt Axton, who captures the song’s sadness perfectly:

Next up is the World War II classic, Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy. Made famous by the Andrews Sisters, their version still stands up well, 73 years later:

While the song has been covered multiple times (it is the song that made Bette Midler famous), all of the covers I have heard were just replications of what the Andrews Sisters did.

For the Vietnam War, I was tempted to go with Barry Sadler’s Ballad of the Green Berets, which is a good song in it’s own right. However, I prefer the Monkee’s Last Train to Clarksville, from 1966. As described in Wikipedia:

The song refers to Clarksville, Tennessee, which is in close proximity to Fort Campbell, Kentucky, the home of the 101st Airborne Division which served in Vietnam during the Vietnam War.

The plot involves a phone call to his wife or girlfriend from a young man who has been drafted, requesting that she “get the last train to Clarksville” so that they might have one last night together before he has to leave on his morning train, because he doesn’t know if he will be coming back from the war.

Ironically, the Vietnam War gave birth to a lot more post-war songs, mostly describing the trauma faced by soldiers returning home. Two of the more notable songs are Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the USA and Billy Joel’s Goodnight Saigon. However, my favorite of this genre was Huey Lewis’s Walking on a Thin Line:

I want to take this moment to thank all of you who have served in the military. Regardless of what anyone’s political views of a specific war may be, no veteran should ever bear the brunt of public opinion. Veterans are good men and women who have served our country. Thank them for their service. But most especially, let us honor those veterans who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country.


Posted May 23, 2014 by edmcgon in Music, Open Thread

7 responses to “Weekend Open Thread

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  1. Ed,
    You have the basic facts right as best I know. The Mexican army was accustomed to taking a “siesta” every day and that was when Houston attacked.

    Your writing is excellent. You should write a book!!

    All thanks to our veterans and especially to the memory of those fallen.

  2. Marshall have you read Matt Margolis analysis about GTAT on Seeking Alpha? Just wondering because he is now one of the analyst working with Mark Gomes at PTT research starting June 2nd.

    • Bobb – I have read his articles about GTAT. He is extraordinarily bullish. I was unaware he was writing for ptt. While I believe GTAT has some exciting products/technologies in the pipeline, my experience has been that they do not always pan out. But if GTAT gets to $87 by 2016, I will send all of you pictures from my new beachfront home.

  3. Will you invite us for a BBQ at your new place?

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