Saturday, May 25, 2013

BIG AL'S JOVIAL JUKEBOX #13: MEMORIAL WEEKEND EDITION: "Tenting Tonight On The Old Campground" Song from 1863!


Albie's Note:  This is a genuine Civil War song, written by one William Kittredge at the very height of the hostilities.  It become a huge seller,  one of the true "hits" of the 19th century, as it was a particular favorite of Union soldiers on the field and of their families back home. 

When one listens to the words it's easy to see why. They are honest, plaintive, and even chilling.  Some writers have actually considered this tune an early example of an anti-war protest ballad, but the lyrics are simpler and more poetic than that would imply.  In an old book called Stories of Great National Songs, the author, on p. 155 quotes composer Kittredge  as recalling: "I wrote the words and music at the same time in one evening, soon expecting to go down South to join the boys in blue, and I desired to have something to sing for them, as that had been my profession, giving concerts for a few years before the war. ... The song was composed in 1863, and published by Ditson, Boston, in 1864."

I any case it is a sobering reminder of the sacrifice of all the Americans who ever "camped in the Hell of war," from Valley Forge to Afganistan.

As the song says: "We are tired of war on the old camp ground..."

Here is a great version by some fellows called The 97th Regimental String Band:

 
TENTING TONIGHT
 
We're tenting tonight on the old camp ground
Give us a song to cheer
Our weary hearts, a song of home
And friends we love so dear.
 
CHORUS
Many are the hearts that are weary tonight,
Wishing for the war to cease;
Many are the hearts looking for the right
To see the dawn of peace.
Tenting tonight, tenting tonight,
Tenting on the old camp ground.


We've been tenting tonight on the old camp-ground,
Thinking of days gone by,
Of the loved ones at home that gave us the hand,
And the tear that said, "Good-bye!"
 
CHORUS

We are tired of war on the old camp ground,
Many are dead and gone,
Of the brave and true who've left their homes,
Others been wounded long.
 
CHORUS
We've been fighting today on the old camp ground,
Many are lying near;
Some are dead, and some are dying,
Many are in tears.
 
FINAL CHORUS
Many are the hearts that are weary tonight,
Wishing for the war to cease;
Many are the hearts looking for the right,
To see the dawn of peace.
Dying tonight, dying tonight,
Dying on the old camp ground.


PEACE
 
 "And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more."
 
--Micah 4:3

3 comments:

Oscar said...

A very apt choice for Memorial Day. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

they sang this one in the old fess parker movie 'great locomotive chase.' i like it too

Albie The Good said...

OSCAR: Your welcome, brother. Hope you and yours are well!

ANONYMOUS: I had forgotten that so I checked it out. Sure enough they sing it in the jail scene... thanks for pointing that out. Great movie!