Soldier's Joy (fiddle tune)

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Soldier's Joy, performed by the North Carolina Hawaiians (1929).

"Soldier's Joy" is a fiddle tune, classified as a reel or country dance.[1] It is popular in the American fiddle canon, in which it is touted as "an American classic"[1] but traces its origin to Scottish fiddling traditions,[2] and Irish fiddle traditions.[citation needed] It has been played in Scotland for over 200 years, and Robert Burns used it for the first song of his cantata 'The Jolly Beggars'.[2] According to documentation at the United States Library of Congress,[3] it is "one of the oldest and most widely distributed tunes"[1] and is rated in the top ten most-played Old Time Fiddle tune. According to the Illinois Humanities Center, the tune dates as early as the 1760s.[4] In spite of its upbeat tempo and catchy melody, the term "soldier's joy" has a much darker meaning than is portrayed by the tune. This term eventually came to refer to the combination of whiskey, beer, and morphine used by Civil War soldiers.

Score[edit]


<<
\new ChordNames \chordmode {
    \set chordChanges = ##t
   s8     |%1 lead in
   d2     |%2
   d2     |%3
   d2     |%4
   a2     |%5
   d2     |%6

   d2     |%7
   d4 a4  |%8
   d2     |%9_1
  \once \set chordChanges = ##f d2     |%9_2

   d2     |%10
   g2     |%11
   d2     |%12
   a2     |%13
   d2     |%14
   g2     |%15
   d4 a4  |%16
   d2     |%17_1
   \once \set chordChanges = ##f  d2     |%17_2
}
\new Staff \relative c''{
 \key d \major
 \time 2/4 
 \partial 8 d16( b16 )  %lead in
  \repeat volta 2 {
    a8 fis d fis                     |%2
    a8 d d d16 b                     |%3
    a8 fis d fis                     |%4
    e8 e16 fis e8 d'16 b             |%5

    a8 fis d fis                     |%6
    a8 d d d16 e                     |%7
    fis4 e4                          |%8
    }

     \alternative {
       {
         d8 d16 fis d8 d16( b16 )    |%9_1
       }

       {
         d8 d16 d d8 d16 e           |%10_2
       }
     }
  \break

% Part 2

  \repeat volta 2 {
    fis8 g a g16( fis)               |%11
    e8 e16 fis g8 e16( g)            |%12

    fis8 g a g16( fis)               |%13
    e16 d cis b a8 d16 e             |%14

    fis8 g a g16( fis)               |%15
    e8 e16 fis g8 g16 g              |%16
    fis16 e d fis e d cis d          |%17
  }

  \alternative {
    {
      d8 d16 d d8 d16 e              |%18_1
    }
    {
      d8 d16 fis d4 \bar "|."        |%19_2
    }
  }
}
>>

Melody as basis for song[edit]

Like many pure tunes with ancient pedigree, the melody of Soldier's Joy has been used as a basis for construction of songs, which, unlike pure tunes, have lyrics. Robert Burns wrote lyrics for the tune in which a dismembered, homeless veteran sarcastically recounts his delight with battle.

Civil War era and post-bellum cultural references[edit]

According to the Illinois Humanities Council (IHC), the tune came to represent substance abuse during the Civil War. This is corroborated in concurring secondary sources.

Gimme some of that Soldier’s Joy, you know what I mean'
I don’t want to hurt no more my leg is turnin’ green[5][6]

The IHIC version is as follows:

Twenty-five cents for whiskey, twenty-five cents for beer
Twenty-five cents for morphine, get me out of here

Chorus:
I'm my momma's pride and joy (3×)
Sing you a song called the soldier's joy

Country[edit]

Twenty-five cents for whiskey, twenty-five cents for beer
Twenty-five cents for morphine get me out of here

chorus:
I'm my momma's pride and joy (3×)
Sing you a song called the soldier's joy

Grasshopper sitting on a sweet potato vine (3×)
Along come a chicken and he's say "you're mine"
I'm gonna get you there don't you want to go? (3×)
All for the soldier's joy
Chicken in a bread pan scratching that dough
Granny does your dog bite no child no[6]
All for the soldier's joy[7]

See also[edit]

Sources[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Soldier's Joy An American Classic". American Memory. Library of Congress. 
  2. ^ a b "Soldier's Joy". Education Scotland. Retrieved 3 July 2016. 
  3. ^ "Library of Congress American Memory". 
  4. ^ "Soldier's Joy. Performed by Mr. Charles Wright, Recorded by Professor McIntosh August 1954". 
  5. ^ "Soldiers Joy Lyrics by Guy Clark". countryfriends.dk. 
  6. ^ a b "The Skillet Lickers were very influential in the 1920s-30s building the bridge that connected Appalachian folk music to modern popular music and gave respectability to the formerly ridiculed "hillbilly" music. "-Liner note posted by preservationhall01. Postged May 1, 2009. Other lyrics are "25 cents for the morphine that will take me away from here". Gid Tanner & The Skillet Lickers-Soldiers Joy-1929 (w/film clip) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_p952jSLddg&feature=fvst
  7. ^ Note: These lyrics are well known to fiddlers and to the public as 'quoted' in Charlie Daniels' song "Devil Went Down to Georgia". A TRADITIONAL MUSIC LIBRARY http://www.traditionalmusic.co.uk/ (site contains only public domain)