British and German soldiers celebrating a Christmas truce in WWI;
Civil War soldiers singing about loved ones back home;
Hands reaching back in reflections from The Wall;
Red Cross nurses serving on the battlefield;
That's the stuff of Soldiers' Songs.
 

"I got the cd and am playing it nonstop. It is so different hearing these songs sung by someone who really understands. It gives a whole different dimension
to the music." Mary G., Vancouver, WA, Veteran, US Army.

This album makes the perfect gift for veterans, history buffs and lovers of folk and Irish music.

 

 


 

 

The purpose of this page is to provide historical context for the songs. This combination of song and context creates opportunities for classroom teaching aids and resources for student papers and presentations.

Christmas in the Trenches


"The Light of Peace in the trenches on Christmas Eve: A German soldier opens the spontaneous truce by approaching the British lines with a small Christmas tree."
(original caption, January 9, 1915)

We Danced to an Old Fashioned Tune

The Wall
The D-Day Dodgers
Michael
And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda
Lorena
The Rocks of Bawn
The Rose of No Man's Land
The Green Fields of France
The Minstrel Boy
Johnny Has Gone For A Soldier 
The Soldier's Song/ The Irish National Anthem
 

Christmas in the Trenches
John McCutcheon/Appalsongs/ASCAP

 

"Then one by one from either side
walked into No Man's Land
With neither gun nor bayonet
we met there hand to hand
we shared some secret brandy
and we wished each other well
then in a flare lit soccer game
we gave 'em hell".
 


This is the story about an unofficial truce during the first Christmas of World War I (1914) where the British faced the Germans along the trench line in the southern portion of the Ypres Salient. The trenches were separated by only a few hundred yards of No Man's Land. Given their proximity, the two forces would often bridge the distance with patriotic or sentimental songs as a way of breaking the bordom of stalemate. The songs often received applause and calls of "Encore! Encore!" Occasionally, temporary truces would be called.

After hearing reports of such activity, the commander of the British II Corps, General Sir Horace-Smith Dorrien, ordered all subordinate commanders to encourage an offensive spirit in their troops by prohibiting friendly behavior toward the enemy.

On Christmas Eve, German soldiers began putting up Christmas trees, decorated with candles, at the top of their trenches. They began singing carols and the British joined in. Remarkably, despite the ever present danger of sniper fire, little groups of Germans and British all along that section of the Front left the safety of their trenches. They met, unarmed, in No Man's Land, wished each other "Merry Christmas", shared cigarettes, brandy and photographs from Christmas packages just received from home, and played soccer by flarelight.

"Peace on Earth, Good Will to Men" soon faded like gas clouds in the wind and those who had played and sung together resumed killing each other to the tune of one million British and two million German dead. One wishes they'd kept singing.

This event is documented in "Christmas Truce" by Malcolm Brown & Shirley Seaton, New York: Hipprocrene Books, 1984.
 

Visit John McCutcheon's web site at www.folkmusic.com.

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We Danced to an Old Fashioned Tune
Johnny McEvoy - Callisto/IRE/ASCAP

 

"Your eyes are as bright as they were the first night
when we danced to an old fashioned tune
in a dusty old schoolhouse on Saturday night
how we laughed as we waltzed round the room
you came from the valleys to the dark city alleys
to care for the young and the poor
and me a young soldier with medals galore
that I'd won in the African war."
 


The British fought several wars in South Africa beginning in 1879 with the Zulus and ending with the 2nd Boer War (1899-1902), by far the most costly and least successful. Expected to be over in three months, the latter lasted nearly three years, costing 22,000 British, 25,000 Boer and 12,000 African lives and 200 million pounds - nearly wrecking the British financial system.

Irishmen fought on both sides of the war: the Irish Brigade of 200 men fought for the Boers and the 4,000 strong British 5th Irish Brigade fought for the Crown.

This song is about one soldier's return from the war and the warm welcome he received from people in the local communities who volunteered for the USO-type organizations of the day. Irish singer/songwriter Johnny McEvoy adds an extra dash of romanticism when he introduces the soldier to the volunteer he marries.

References include "The Boer War" by Thomas Pakenham, Random House, New York, 1979; "To The Bitter End" by Emanoel Lee, Viking Penguin Inc, New York, 1985.


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The Wall
Tim Murphy (Copyright 1985)

 

"And every name's a father
or a husband or a son
or a daughter or a brother
or a cousin to someone
or a name may be a classmate
or a friend you may recall
there's nearly sixty thousand fallen names
still waiting at the wall."



On Veterans Day in 1982, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was dedicated with the names of 58,132 dead or missing American men and women from the Vietnam War.

Commonly known as The Wall, it is one of those places that is impossible to fully explain and needs to be personally experienced. But having been there I believe that this song by Tim Murphy, who received the Silver Star in Vietnam, comes closer to conveying its meaning than anything else I've heard or seen. When I first visited The Wall, I took the picture that appears here. It has the names of several soldiers in my unit who were killed in the same action I was wounded. One is Roy Salinas. A proud Mexican-American and a true professional, he trained me in the States. He was on his third tour when he was hit by 'friendly fire' from a helicopter gunship.

The following description of how Murphy came to write "The Wall" is taken from Lee Andresen's book, "Battle Notes - Music of the Vietnam War".

"I finally saw the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial at my brother Pat's urging. He'd served several tours in 'Nam, and suggested that a trip to The Wall might afford me the same solace he'd found there. I felt a vague ambivalence toward the Memorial, and was uneasy about finding the names of friends and comrades I'd served with in the 4th Infantry Division, 1968 and 1969. I remember that my first visit to the VVM brought to me a deep abiding comfort which endures to this day. I wanted others to know this peace that I'd experienced there, and so I tried to share my impressions in the lyrics of my song, 'The Wall'. Very few adults living in America today were not touched in some way by the experience of Vietnam. My wish is that my song will help people to come to The Wall to remember, and in their memories, find peace and comfort."

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The D-Day Dodgers
Norbet Schultz/Hans Leip - E. B. Marks Music Co./GEMA

 

"Dear Lady Astor, you think you know a lot
standing on that platform and talkin' tommy rot
you're England's sweetheart and her pride
we think your mouth's too bloody wide
that's from your D-Day Dodgers in sunny Italy."
 


This satire is based on the allegation that the British 8th Army had skipped D-Day for light duty in Italy. The notion was popularly believed to have originated with England's Lady Astor, the sharp-tongued, wealthy noblewoman and conservative member of Parliament. Understandably, this infuriated the troops in the Italian campaign who saw some of the bloodiest fighting of the war. Their outrage, fanned by the British working class non-coms' existing disdain for Astor, was the driving force behind "The D-Day Dodgers". Supported by the enormously popular melody of Lili Marlene, the song sped through the ranks, picking up new verses and versions along the way. (See "The D-Day Dodgers" Educational Resources Page)

However, there is no historical evidence that Astor made this or other disparaging remarks attributed to her, and so the great gaffe appears to be a musical myth. Still, tens of thousands of troops believed the remark to be true and continued to sing their versions long after the war. According to musicologist Les Cleveland, "Apocryphal or not, the phrase qualifies as a piece of mythohistory."

If any visitors to this site have information leading to this illusive historical reference, please send me an email.

Many thanks to Carl Neiburger, Mick Lowe, and Roy Palmer, author of "What a Lovely War - British Soldiers' Songs from the Boer War to the Present Day" and Les Cleveland, author of "Dark Laugher, War in Song and Popular Culture", for providing insights to this section.

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Michael
Johnny McEvoy - Callisto/IRE/ASCAP)

 

"On a far off August day
cold young men in ambush lay
on a roadside, by a hill where flowers grow
so much hate for one so young
who was right and who was wrong
though a thousand years may pass
we'll never know."
 


This song is a tribute to Michael Collins, the Irish revolutionary who reorganized the Irish Republican Brotherhood and led a brilliant guerrilla war against the British after World War I. He forced them to the bargaining table and to sign the Anglo-Irish Treaty of December 6, 1921 which freed most of Ireland from centuries of British rule.

But for many of his former comrades in arms, "most for Ireland", 26 of the 32 counties, wasn't good enough. While Collins believed that the compromise was the best that could be done for Ireland at that time, others felt betrayed. Collins realized the danger when he wrote a letter to his friend, John O'Kane:

"Think - what have I done for Ireland? Something which she has wanted these past seven hundred years. Will anyone be satisfied with the bargain? Will anyone? I tell you this - early this morning I signed my death warrant."

On August 22, 1922, he was shot from ambush and died on a country road in West Cork. He was 31 years old.

References include "Michael Collins" by Leon Obroin, Gill & Macmillan, Dublin, 1980


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And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda
Eric Bogle - Island Music/B.M.I.

 

"Johnny Turk, he was ready he'd primed himself well
he ringed us with bullets and showered us with shells
and in five minutes flat we were all blown to Hell
he nearly blew us back home to Australia."
 


In 1915, with the war in France an entrenched stalemate, the Allies decided to open a new front in Turkey. The plan called for an amphibious landing at Gallipoli on Suvla Bay using French and British Empire troops, including the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC), supported by the big guns of the British and French navies. The Allied commanders had seriously underestimated the tenacity of the Turks and the accuracy of their artillery. The result was one of the great debacles of the war. After months of horrific and courageous fighting, the invaders had scarcely gotten past the beach. Troops on both sides suffered heavy casualties: 265,000 for the Allies and 300,000 for the Turks.

Ref. "The First World War", John Keegan, Vintage Books, New York, 2000

Musicology note: I look at war as a two-sided coin. One side is shiney - the bands, parades, smart uniforms, the flag-waving and cheers. The other side is darker, tarnished and disfigured - the dead & dying, the lame, the blind, the insane. This is the only song I know that shows us both sides of the coin.

For me, having been a combat medic wounded in Vietnam, the most poignant moment in the song comes when the wounded, the first to disembark from the ship returning them to Australia, are being taken down the gangway. The same cheering crowd that earlier in the song had given them a rousing sendoff to Gallipoli is stunned into silence by the sight of broken men.

"And the band played Waltzing Matilda, as they carried us down the gangway,
but nobody cheered, they just stood there and stared, then they all turned their faces away."

In an instant, Bogle has captured and conveyed war's emotional seesaw, creating one of the most powerful, realistic and timeless songs about war.

Lyric note: a "matilda" is the rover's back pack/blanket roll; a "billabong" is a dead end wash off a river.


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Lorena
J.P. Webster/H. DeLayfette Webster - Clement Family Songs/BMI

 

"A hundred months have past Lorena
since last I held that hand in mine
and felt the pulse beat fast Lorena
though mine beat faster far than thine."
 


Most soldiers spend only a small fraction of their service time in combat. The remainder is spend training, walking, digging in, waiting, complaining about the food, and thinking and talking about home and loved ones. Home and loved ones - when will they see them again? They wonder if their sweethearts will wait for them, how their wives are coping, how much their children have grown or they try to imagine the child they have never seen. (My daughter Michele was born when I was in Vietnam. She was eight months old before I saw her.)

Written in 1857, this song sets the poetry of Reverend H. D. L. Webster to music by J. P. Webster (no relation). It was extremely popular during the American Civil War, particularly among the Confederate ranks, and came to be identified with the Southern cause. It is said that Confederate commanders forbid it to be played in camp because it made the men so homesick that many left for home. After the war, many Southern girls were named for the song's heroine, as were several pioneer settlements and even a steamship.

References include "Songs of the Civil War" by Irwin Silber, Columbia University Press, New York, 1960; comments by historian Shelby Foote in Ken Burns' production, "The Civil War".


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The Rocks of Bawn
Traditional

 

"I wish the Queen of England would write to me in time
and send me to some regiment all in my youth and prime
I'd fight for Ireland's glory from the clear daylight of dawn
and you know that I'd ne'er return again
to plow the rocks of bawn."
 


Apparently set in the 17th century, this song reflects the plantation policies of successive British monarchs which sought to move Irish farmers off their lands and replace them with English and Scottish settlers more loyal to the Crown. The full force of this policy is captured by the 1654 "To Hell or Connacht" ultimatum to Irish farmers attributed to Oliver Cromwell. It meant that any Irish landowner east of the Shannon River faced death, slavery in the West Indies or Barbados, or transportation to the inhospitable terrain of Connacht or Co. Clare which is covered with the white rocks, or rocks of "bawn", the Irish word for "white". Rather than endure this hardship or faced with the prospect of having no land to farm at all, many Irishmen took to soldiering.

The song has many versions and some controversy centering on the first line of the verse set above. Instead of "Queen of England", some would substitute the phrase "King of England", "Patrick Sarsfield" or "sergeant major". In terms of original historical context, "King of England" or "Patrick Sarsfield" have a strong claim. In the latter part of the 17th century, deposed English Stuart King James II, a Roman Catholic, fled to Ireland and raised an army and hopes of restoring Catholics their lost lands. James was defeated by William of Orange at the Battle of the Boyne and fled to France. One of his capable commanders, Patrick Sarsfield, fought on and eventually surrendered. Under the terms of the Treaty of Limerick, he led a large contingent of gentry officers (The Flight of the Wild Geese) to France where they formed Irish regiments within the French army and fought against England.

As centuries past, "Queen of England" and "sergeant major" found their way into the song as hundreds of thousands of Irishmen voluntarily joined the British army to fight in foreign lands. Given the renewal of Irish nationalism in the early 20th century, some today may find the image of Irishmen fignting for the British incredible. The fact is that in the Irish agrarian economy there were few alternatives to farming for landless young men, so they "took the shilling". In WWI alone, an estimated 350,000 Irishmen, including many living in England, joined the British army and that is in addition to the 50,000 Irish already serving in the British army and reserves at the outbreak of the war. Sean O'Casey described the scene in Dublin as thousands marched to the troopships:

"The stoutest of men from the hill, valley and town came pressing into the British army. Long columns of Irishmen went swinging past Liberty Hall down to the quays, to the ships waiting to take them to a poppy mobbed grave in France."

By that time, most of the recruits were coming from the growing ranks of the working class urban poor. The pay was better than other alternatives and the soldier's spouse received a separation allowance. There were, however, also other reasons for enlisting: adventure, idealism, and the widespread belief, at least in the south, that supporting the British would strengthen Ireland's bid for Home Rule. In a sense, they were also "fighting for Ireland's glory".


References for this section include "The Mount Callan Garland - Songs from the Repertoire of Tom Lenihan", Comhairle Bhealoideas Eireann, University College, Dublin, 1994; "They Shall Not Grow Old - Irish Soldiers and the Great War", Myles Dungan, Four Courts Press, Dublin, 1997; and "Ireland's Unknown Soldiers", Terence Denman, Irish Academic Press, Dublin, 1992; "A Short History of Ireland" by John O'Beirne Ranelagh, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1983.


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The Rose of No Man's Land
J Caddigan / J Brennan - Jerry Vogel Music/ASCAP

 

"Mid the war's great curse stands the Red Cross nurse
she's the rose of no man's land"



Eighteen thousand American Red Cross nurses provided much of the medical care for the American military during World War 1, and 4,800 Red Cross ambulance drivers, including Walt Disney and Ernest Hemingway, provided first aid on the front lines. Of those, 296 nurses and 127 ambulance drivers died in service to humanity.

By the end of the war, the Red Cross had 21 hospitals in France, as well as 12 convalescent homes, 9 infirmaries, 10 dispensaries and 130 canteens.

Those who have been on the receiving end of their care and compassion will never forget the war time nurse. My great aunt, Annie Meehan, served on the battlefield of World War I as a member of the Carmelites, a medical order of nuns. Recruited in Ireland, she was stationed at Lisieux, France, and was decorated by the French government. Written in 1918 and kept alive by America's barbershop quartet singers, this song is a tribute to all those dedicated women who, with a smile on their lips and fatigue in their eyes, worked to keep death at a distance.

(See "America's Military Partnership with the Red Cross" on Educational Resources Page)

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The Green Fields of France
Eric Bogle - Island Music/B.M.I.

 

"Did they beat the drum slowly did they play the fife lowly
did the rifles fire or' ye as they lowered you down
did the bugles play the last post in chorus
did the pipes play the flowers of the forest."


Twenty million people died in World War I. They were killed by some of the new technologies of the day - the machine gun, poison gas, the high explosive shell. These helped to eliminate nearly an entire generation of young men from Great Britain, France, Germany, Russia and Italy.

Britain's Cynthia Asquith, numb at the loss of an entire generation of young men, wrote in 1918 that "one will at last fully recognize that the dead are not only dead for the duration of the war". Over half a century later, Eric Bogle visited a British battalion cemetery in France. When he wrote this song shortly after, he joined the ranks of those like Asquith who have resolved to keep the memory of the dead alive.

Willie McBride was probably Irish. Despite the 1916 Easter Rebellion and the resurgence of Irish nationalism that it later produced, an estimated 350,000 Irishmen volunteered to fight with the British during World War I. This estimate includes Irish men living and working in England and is in addition to the 50,000 Irishmen already serving in the British regular army and reserves at the outbreak of the war. Ireland's pre-war population was just over 4 million.

I recently visited the Irish National War Memorial Gardens in Islandbridge, Dublin, on the banks of the Liffey. It is a massive monument commemorating in stone the estimated "49,400 IRISHMEN WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES IN THE GREAT WAR 1914 - 1918. THEIR NAME LIVETH FOR EVERMORE."


References for this section include "A History of Warfare" by John Keenan, Vintage Books, 1994, and "Ireland's Unknown Soldiers", Irish Academic Press, 1992. Special thanks to Willie Whelan, webmaster for the Dungarvan Museum Society.


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The Minstrel Boy
Traditional

 

"Land of song said the warrior bard
though all the world betrays thee
one sword at least thy rights shall guard
one faithful harp shall praise thee."
 


One of the most recognizable of Irish melodies, this air known as "The Moreen" is believed to have its origins in the latter part of the 16th Century. Typical of folk music in a predominately oral culture, it went through various modifications over the next 2 centuries. When Thomas Moore (1779-1852) wrote the lyrics to "The Minstrel Boy", he set them to this melody. In 1813, the song was published as part of his ten-volume "Irish Melodies". Through this work, the song was widely distributed and translated into every European language, including Hungarian, Polish and Russian. With the help of the printing press, Moore was the first to popularize the "The Minstrel Boy", and Irish music in general, throughout the world.

It is believed that Moore composed the song as a memorial to several of his friends he had met while studying at Trinity College who had participated in the failed United Irishmen Uprising of 1798. One died in prison, another was wounded, and a third captured and hung. Moore was a nationalist. His combined images of harp and sword are symbolic of the Irish marriage of song and war. Over the centuries, Irish poets, singers and musicians have kept alive the memory of past battles and fallen heroes and their songs have been used to rekindle the spirit of rebellion and the quest for freedom.

The song was a favorite of the many Irishmen who fought during the American Civil War, primarily on the Union side. Today it is a mainstay in the repertoire of the fife and drum corps of both Union and Confederate reenactment groups.

References include "Dear Harp of My Country: The Irish Melodies of Thomas Moore," by James W. Flannery, J. S. Sanders & Company, Nashville, TN, 1995 & 1997.


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Johnny Has Gone For A Soldier
Traditional

 

"But now my love has gone to France
To try his fortune to advance
If he returns 'tis but a chance
My Johnny has gone for a soldier."
 


This song is thought to have originated in 17th century Ireland under the name "Shule Agra". It is also known under the names "Shule Aroon", "Buttermilk Hill" and "Sweet William".

According to one theory, the tune was born of the same historical circumstances cited above (see "The Rocks of Bawn"). After the defeat of King James II by William of Orange at the Battle of the Boyne, many of his Irish supporters were exiled to France (Flight of the Wild Geese) where they fought for the French against the English. This "love song wrapped in rebellion" theory is supported by the fact that some versions of the song have the lyric listed above:

The song was sung during the American Revolution and was popular with the tens of thousands of Irishmen who fought on both sides of the American Civil War which took 600,000 lives.

The separation of women from sweethearts/husbands gone off to war is a timeless, universal theme. My wife Jeannine and I were apart during our first year of marriage while I was in Vietnam. At that time, this theme was presented by songs like "The Cruel War":

"The cruel war is raging, Johnny has to fight. I want to be with him by day and by night."

(Musical note: Accompanied by a harp track, I whistle rather than sing this song on the album. Composer Kinny Landrum, the album's pianist (see musician's page), noticed the same melodic theme recurring in both "Johnny Has Gone for a Soldier" and "The Soldier's Song" so we did the former almost as an intro to the latter. For a fine rendition of the lyrics, I recommend Karan Casey's version on the "Solas" CD.)


References include "The Seeds of Love", compiled and edited by Stephen Sedley for the English Folk Dance and Song Society, 1967. Many thanks to Australian folk singer Ron Clark and Lesley Nelson for their assistance in researching this song.


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The Soldier's Song/ The Irish National Anthem
Peadar Kearney/Patrick Heeney

 

"We'll sing a song, a soldier's song
with cheering, rousing chorus
while round our blazing fires we throng
the starry heavens or' us
impatient for the coming fight
and as we wait the morning's light
here in the silence of the night
we will chant a soldier's song.
 


This march was written in 1907. It did not become popular until 1916 when Irishmen interned in Britain after the failed Easter Rebellion sang it in defiance of their captors. It soon supplanted the unofficial anthems, "God Save Ireland" and "A Nation Once Again", and in 1926 was officially decreed Ireland's National Anthem. It is never rendered better than at the All-Ireland football and hurling matches when it is sung in Irish by 80,000 fans supported by massed bands.

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The song histories on this page have been compiled by Michael McCann (See Artist Bio) If you have any comments/suggestions regarding the content on this page or this website in general, especailly any related historical references, please send an email.
 

Soldiers' Songs has licenses or permission for the copyrighted music on this album. Song samples are for promotional use only. Songs are copyrighted as indicated. All rights reserved


 

 

John Whelan

At age 14 John recorded his first album, Pride of Wexford, which is still selling today. He went on to win 7 All-Ireland championships on the button accordion and to record From The Heart, Celtic Reflections, Celtic Crossroads and Flirting with the Edge. His John Whelan Band has thrilled audiences in America and Europe.

Named Traditionalist of the Year by Irish Echo magazine in 1998, John won high praise from Celtic music authority Earle Hitchner. "As an instrumentalist, composer, producer, and arranger who brings both passion and playfulness to his music while respecting the tradition it's rooted in."

Visit John's Website



Jerry O'Sullivan

Hailed as America's premier uilleann piper, Jerry is also widely recorded on the Irish flute, the tin whistle, the low whistle, the Highland bagpipes, and the Scottish smallpipes. He has appeared on more than 60 albums, performing with The Boston Pops, Sinead O'Connor, Dolly Parton, Eileen Ivers, Seamus Egan, and James Galway. His two solo albums, The Gift and The Invasion have both received critical acclaim. Jerry has also recorded a number of film soundtracks including From Shore to Shore, The Long Journey Home, Far and Away, and Out of Ireland.

Visit Jerry's Website



Pat Kilbride

A former member of the Battlefield Band and Kips Bay Ceile Band, Pat has recorded several solo albums, including Loose Cannon and his latest, Rock & More Roses. Classically trained on the piano, he taught himself the guitar and cittern. His artistry can be found on numerous albums. Born in Co. Kildare, Ireland, Pat now lives in England.

Kinny Landrum

Kinny Landrum is a composer, arranger, studio musician and musical director. He has toured with Robert Palmer and Harry Belafonte and worked with Carly Simon, Herbie Mann, Neil Sedaka, Marianne Faithful, Natalie Cole and Leonard Bernstien. He has also played in the pit on Broadway shows such as "Metro" and as music director of "Marlowe". His TV and radio commercials include spots for Coca Cola, Ford, Alka Seltzer and Pizza Hut. Kinny has also contributed compositions and arrangements to albums released by John Whelan and Jerry O'Sullivan. Contact Kinny

Lisa Gutkin

New York fiddler/composer Lisa Gutkin, a founding member of the contemporary Celtic group WHIRLIGIG, is renowned for her unique style drawn from Irish and Scottish traditional music and a varied musical palette. She has performed and/or recorded with numerous artists, including Elizabeth Swados, Jane Siberry, The Waverly Consort, John Cale, Cathie Ryan, Tommy Sands, Pete Seeger, Steve Cooney, John Whelan and Pat Kilbride, Ed Miller, and The Klezmatics.

Visit Lisa's (Whirligig) Website

Peter McCann

Michael's brother Peter, who provides vocal harmonies on "The Rose of No Man's Land" and introduces the album on the insert, is a professional songwriter and recording artist. His songs have been recorded by Whitney Houston, Kenny Rogers, Anne Murray, Kathy Mattea, Frances Black, Julio Iglesias, and many more. Peter has recorded for Motown, CBS, RCA, and 20th Century Fox. He lives in Nashville

 

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"One of the most memorable songs about the Vietnam Memorial comes from the pen of Tim Murphy and has been recorded by Michael McCann who served in Special Forces in Vietnam. The fact that they were actually there gives this musical tribute, simply titled, "The Wall" an eloquence and emotional intensity that makes it one of the most moving and unforgettable pieces of music I've heard about any war.


"It is not inconsequential that both Murphy and McCann are Irish- Americans. Someone once said that to be Irish is to know that someday the world will break your heart. In a strange way, their troubled ancestry makes these men excellent choices to portray the pathos of Vietnam. It is almost as though there is some genetic memory at work in "The Wall", allowing Murphy and McCann to draw on all the trials that Ireland and Irishmen have encountered through history and so effectively describe the pain of those who visit the Vietnam Memorial. The fact that both were "line troops" during the war and highly decorated is another key element that explains their virtuosity in delivering this kind of music. McCann won the Purple Heart and Bronze Star for Valor while Murphy received the Silver Star."


From "Battle Notes - Music of the Vietnam War" by Lee Andresen, Savage Press, Copyright 2000
 

"Mike's voice is amoung the most powerful and expressive I've heard. He makes the old songs new. There's a harp track on "Johnny Has Gone for a Soldier" which will haunt you forever. "We Danced to an Old Fashioned Tune" will give the dance crowd a new tune to waltz to. This CD is a superb example of the voice being the best musical instrument."


From "The Cornstalk Gazette", the publication of The Folk Federation of New South Wales, Inc., Australia, April,1998, by Sam Hilt.


{Note: Sam Hilt is an American who served with the 173rd Airborne Brigade in Vietnam, immigrated to Australia after the war and has become a citizen of that country. He is an authority on military folk music with several published song books and a recently recorded CD, "Apres La Guerre". Send Sam a Song at email.



"For Mike McCann, becoming a paratrooper in the 1960s was a source of pride in the working class Irish neighborhood where he grew up in Bridgeport, Conn. But the reality of war would soon sink in when McCann was shot in Vietnam while trying to rescue a wounded soldier.


McCann seeks to convey a realistic impression about war in his first album, Soldiers' Songs. Rich in Irish and military history, the recording features 13 songs from 8 wars, including World Wars I and II, Vietnam, the American and Irish civil wars, the British African wars and a few Irish rebellions. The album includes "The Wall", by Tim Murphy, which describes the experience of visiting the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, and "And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda", by Eric Bogle, about a disasterous World War I battle.


The album's genesis seems to flow not only from his military experiences but from the singer's love of history. He meticuloulsy researched the history of each song which is noted on the album. He also lined up all-Ireland accordion champion John Whelan to produce the recording.


For McCann, having experienced war puts him in a special position to convey the meaning of the songs.


From "The Irish Echo", January, 1998, by John Christoffersen.



"Michael McCann has been singing all of his life, but he's just getting around to making his first album, "Soldiers' Songs, in which he displays a soulful Irish tenor on 13 folk-inflected tunes dealing with war and warriors. On his professionally produced album, McCann turns in a particularly haunting version of Eric Bogle's anti-war anthem, "And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda" and a fine rendition of Tim Murphy's ode to those who died in Vietnam, "The Wall".


From "The VVA Veteran", the national publication of the Vietnam Veterans of America February/March 1998



"The one element I look for in any music I listen to is sincerity and that is truly evident in the vocal quality of Mike McCann. You feel the songs when he sings them because he sings from the heart." John Whelan, Irish accordion champion, composer & recording artist.


"I must tell you how wonderful your CD is. I gave one as a Christmas gift to a friend of mine who is a Vietnam veteran. Your voice and your music is so beautiful. It really brings a message that so many veterans. shall never forget or what they sacrificed for others." Dennis S., Guilford, CT, Veteran, US Army


"I got the cd and am playing it nonstop. It is so different hearing these songs sung by someone who really understands. It gives a whole different dimension to the music." Mary G., Vancouver, WA, Veteran, US Army.


"My wife purchased Soldiers' Songs for me and gave it to me for Fathers Day. We all really appreciate the songs and especailly the delivery of the material. I thought "TheWall" presented a view of the conflict that would make the listener see individuals, not countries. Thank you and Tim Murphy." Joseph R., Clearwater, FL


"The album you have done has touched me deeply and I have been playing it for everyone I can. I am a member of the Vietnam Veterans of America. Now that I have purchased the CD, I will recommend to all of my brothers that they buy it! The songs you have chosen have a great meaning for us. Soldiers' Songs is beautiful." Patrick C., Saylorsburg, PA


"Enjoyed your album tremendously. Also found the history of all the songs so interesting! It's a definite must for all my family now." Carol S., Floral Park, New York
 


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To order, call Touch of Ireland
Toll Free (866) 787- 7990 and have your credit card ready.

We accept MasterCard, Discover or Visa.

Or, send check or money order to:

Soldiers' Songs
670 Whitney Avenue
New Haven, CT 06511.

Volume discounts available.


 

Compact Disc - $14.95
Add $3.00 for shipping & handling

 


 

Cassette - $9.95
Add $3.00 for shipping & handling

 

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Soldiers' Songs has licenses or permission for the copyrighted music on this album. Song samples are for promotional use only. Songs are copyrighted as indicated. All rights reserved