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.