Monday, August 28, 2017


Shades of Fahrenheit 451 
by Robert A. Waters 

When they've taken down all the Confederate monuments and flags, the next step for the thought-police may be a Fahrenheit 451-style CD burning. Lots of famous artists have written and recorded Confederate songs, including Sir Elton John, Joan Baez, Johnny Cash, Hoyt Axton, John Denver, Johnny Horton, Waylon Jennings, Levon Helm, Bob Dylan, Rod Stewart, and many more. I can picture the bonfire now, the glowing embers, melting disks, and cheers from the zombie-minded crowds. Like book-burnings of long ago, the thought-police wish to control all we see and hear.

Listed below are a few songs about the Confederate nation that may be banished from our musical culture. 
The Band 

Written by Canadian Robbie Robertson for his friend and fellow-band member, Arkansas-born drummer Levon Helm, this impeccably researched song captures the final days of the Confederacy through the eyes of a dirt-poor farmer and Rebel soldier. Before the thought-police came along, "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" was hailed as a one of the finest rock songs of all time. Joan Baez recorded the song, making it a number one hit. Johnny Cash, John Denver, The Black Crowes, the Jerry Garcia Band, and the Zac Brown Band all made recordings of the song. 

"Back with my wife in Tennessee 
When one day she said to me, 
'Virgil, quick come see, there goes Robert E. Lee.' 
Now I don't mind chopping wood, 
And I don't care if their money's no good, 
You take what you need and leave the rest 
But they should never have taken the very best." 

Elton John 

Yes, the Rocket Man recorded a song about a son who buries his Confederate father, then enlists to fight the Yankees and avenge his father's death. Written by Sir Elton and lyricist Bernie Taupin, the lyrics evoke a scene of families being drawn into a conflict that is much greater than the sum of the individual.  

"From this day on I own my father's gun.
We dug his shallow grave beneath the sun.
I laid his broken body down below the Southern land,
It wouldn't do to bury him where any Yankee stands." 
Johnny Horton 

The modern Fahrenheit 451 crowd can't stand it when someone dares to disagree with their interpretation of history. "Johnny Reb," written by Johnny Horton, is a fairly standard country song that made it to the top of the charts in both the country and pop field. But the thought-police claims he "romanticized" the heroic actions of Confederate soldiers. (They ignore the fact that, in this song and others, Horton spoke highly of President Abraham Lincoln.) 

"I saw General Lee raise his sabre in his hand, 
Heard the cannons roar as you made your last stand. 
You marched into battle with the gray and the red 
And when the cannon smoke cleared it took days to count the dead." 

After Horton died, he was falsely accused of having written and recorded blatantly "racist" songs. This was proven to be a lie, but the revisionists still haven't forgiven him for praising the courage of Rebel soldiers. 
Written by Ry Cooder, sung by Jim Keach 

While writing the soundtrack for the movie, "The Long Riders," Ry Cooder composed this song. "Wildwood Boys" describes Missouri in the days after the Civil War, when carpetbag dollars were the only cash available in the South. The song is about the Jesse James gang that took money by force from the carpetbaggers' trains and banks. (Ry Cooder won the Best Music Award from Los Angeles Film Critics Association for this 1989 soundtrack.) 

"This was our situation, 
We was just young wildwood boys, 
New as the birth of a nation, 
The kind that the Army employs. 
High-riding Rebs from Missouri, 
Fought for the gray and Quantril, 
Caught up by the battle and fury 
Back when just living was hell." 
Dickey Betts  

Former guitarist for the Georgia-based Allman Brothers Band, Betts wrote the Southern rock classic, "Ramblin' Man." He also wrote and sang this sensitive two-verse song, "Atlanta's Burning Down." In the song, a Confederate soldier who fought throughout the war with General Robert E. Lee is about to go AWOL. He plans to return to Atlanta, his hometown, to try and save his wife from General Sherman's march to the sea.  

"Gettysburg to Richmond, I fought long and hard, 
Not far away in Georgia, Sherman's in my own backyard. 
So I'm leavin' here this morning even if they shoot me down, 
My Jenny's in Atlanta, and Atlanta's burning down." 


After all the Rebel statues and flags are gone, what's next? Historical-cleansing is a dangerous game that can easily veer into unknown places. 

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