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History in Song

July 27, 2011 by  

History was an important theme on the Billboard Top 40 charts 52 years ago. For the week of July 27, 1959, the No. 2 hit was “Battle of New Orleans” by Johnny Horton. It spent 18 weeks in the Top 40 and six weeks at No. 1.

Remember the story it told? “In 1814 we took a little trip, along with Colonel Jackson down the Mighty Mississipp. We took a little bacon an’ we took a little beans, and we caught the bloody British at the town of New Orleans.” The battle itself was won 144 years earlier, on January 8, 1815.

The No. 4 hit that week was about another battle in the same year, 1815. “Waterloo” was sung by Stonewall Jackson. Yes, that was his actual name; he was a direct descendent of the famed Confederate General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson.

What do you think the chances a singer would have today, singing about battles that took place nearly two centuries earlier? Can you think of any popular song that became a hit in the past 25 years that commemorated anything in our history? I can’t.

—Chip Wood



Chip Wood

is the geopolitical editor of He is the founder of Soundview Publications, in Atlanta, where he was also the host of an award-winning radio talk show for many years. He was the publisher of several bestselling books, including Crisis Investing by Doug Casey, None Dare Call It Conspiracy by Gary Allen and Larry Abraham and The War on Gold by Anthony Sutton. Chip is well known on the investment conference circuit where he has served as Master of Ceremonies for FreedomFest, The New Orleans Investment Conference, Sovereign Society, and The Atlanta Investment Conference.

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  • Forrest

    One has to know of history before one can write or sing about it. History doe not “fit” into the image of self-esteem nor humanism.

  • FlaJim

    Too bad it’s so hard to find the original rendition that had about 20 verses. I’ve been searching for at least 20 years and been unable to find it. If anyone else knows, please let me know. Heard it only once on, of all places, the Dr Demento Show.

    Chip, listen to Toby Keith singing Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue. If that doesn’t stir you, I don’t know what would.

  • John

    The battle itself was won 144 years earlier, on January 8, 1815.Really, 144 YEARS earlier????

    • Stickwoman Red

      Yes, “John says:” check out your history before making a comment, the song was popular in 1959 – 1815 = 144. Don’t calculate from today’s date!

  • Roger

    I have original copies of “The Battle of New Orleans, Sink the Bismark and Waterloo. If you would like a copy, let me know. I can burn a CD and send to you or I can email to you. You can get in touch with me at ropalong at

    PS Sorry for being off topic

    • USAF VET

      Hey Roger, can you or anyone else tell me what was on the flip side of the 45rpm of Battle of New Orleans. I know, but I’m wondering if anyone else does. It was one of my favorite Johnny Horton songs.

      • Roger

        I’m sorry but I don’t know what was on the other side. However, I do have a few songs from Johnny Horton on my hard drive. The 50′s & 60′s was when I was a teenager. Better times then Than now.

        • USAF VET

          The name of the song was All For The Love of a Girl. It was a great song.

          • Roger

            I have that one also.


    Chip, I wish you had gone just a little bit further on your details about the song. Yes, Johnny Horton did record the song and did a really good job on it. I remember when it first came out it hit both the country and pop charts. But there is one thing I wish you had mentioned about the history of the song itself. It was written and performed by a country singer who went by the name of Jimmy Driftwood and there was a little more to the song that what Johnny Horton did with it. Jimmy Drifwood did a few other songs that for some reason didn’t really hit for him but did for some other country artists.

  • s c

    Many things have changed, yes. For example, Colonel Jackson [who later became President Andrew Jackson, a real, central bank-hating, honest-to-God Democrat who served a functional purpose in the White House], would NOT recognize those who came after
    Music has changed, and so has the ‘quality’ of the ^&#$s who go to Washington. I can only hope that when someone “buys” a politician these days, they have to fork over suitcases of cash. You don’t have to go too far back to the day when the dollar was worth having, and you could buy yourself an effin’ politician for perhaps $100.

    • d v

      sc: What you write about Jackson is absoluely correct. It’s also true that the last time the USA had a balanced budget was under the Jackson administration. He insisted upon it.


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