The Battle of New Orleans

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"The Battle of New Orleans"
Johnny Horton New Orleans single.jpg
Single by Johnny Horton
B-side "All for the Love of a Girl"
Released April 1959
Recorded 1959
Genre Country
Length 2:33
Label Columbia
Writer(s) Jimmy Driftwood
Johnny Horton singles chronology
"When It's Springtime in Alaska (It's Forty Below)"
(1959)
"The Battle of New Orleans"
(1959)
"Johnny Reb"
(1959)

"The Battle of New Orleans" is a song written by Jimmy Driftwood. The song describes the 1815 Battle of New Orleans from the perspective of an American soldier; the song tells the tale of the battle with a light tone and provides a rather comical version of what actually happened at the battle. It has been recorded by many artists, but the singer most often associated with this song is Johnny Horton. His version scored number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1959 (see 1959 in music). Billboard ranked it as the No. 1 song for 1959, it was very popular with teenagers in the late 50's/early 60's in an era mostly dominated by rock and roll music.

In Billboard magazine's rankings of the top songs in the first 50 years of the Billboard Hot 100 chart, "The Battle of New Orleans" was ranked as the 28th song overall[1] and the number-one country music song to appear on the chart.[2]

Members of the Western Writers of America chose it as one of the Top 100 Western songs of all time.[3]

History[edit]

The melody is based on a well-known American fiddle tune "The 8th of January," which was the date of the Battle of New Orleans. Jimmy Driftwood, a school principal in Arkansas with a passion for history, set an account of the battle to this music in an attempt to get students interested in learning history.[4] It seemed to work, and Driftwood became well known in the region for his historical songs. He was "discovered" in the late 1950s by Don Warden, and eventually was given a recording contract by RCA, for whom he recorded 12 songs in 1958, including "The Battle of New Orleans."[5]

"The Battle of New Orleans" is often played during North American sporting events, and is commonly heard during home games of the National Hockey League's Calgary Flames.[citation needed] Original Horton 45 rpm discs of the song are now worth many times the original cost, partly because the price is inflated. It was regarded with derision in Britain as the British forces withdrew from the battle after heavy losses had put victory out of the question. The British lost 2,036 men, while the Americans under command of future president Andrew Jackson lost only 71.

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1959) Peak
position
U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles[6] 1
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 1
Canadian RPM Top Singles 1
Australian Singles Chart 1
U.K. Singles Chart 16

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (1959) Position
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 1

Other versions[edit]

Covers and remakes[edit]

As noted, Johnny Horton's 1959 version is the best-known recording of the song, which omits the mild expletives and many of the historical references of the original. Horton also recorded an alternative version for release in British Commonwealth countries, avoiding the unfavorable lyrics concerning the British: the word "British" was replaced with "Rebels," along with a few other differences.

Many other artists have recorded this song. Notable versions include the following:

Parodies[edit]

"The Battle of Kookamonga"[edit]

"The Battle of Kookamonga"
Single by Homer and Jethro
from the album Homer and Jethro at the Country Club
B-side "Waterloo"
Released 1959
Genre Country, Parody
Length 2:38
Label RCA Victor
Writer(s) Jimmy Driftwood, J. J. Reynolds

Country music parodists Homer and Jethro had a hit when they parodied "The Battle of New Orleans" with their song "The Battle of Kookamonga". The single was released in 1959 and featured production work by Chet Atkins. In this version, the scene shifts from a battleground to a campground, with the combat being changed to the Boy Scouts chasing after the Girl Scouts.

Other parodies[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-09-13. Retrieved 2009-07-08. 
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-10-08. Retrieved 2008-10-04. 
  3. ^ Western Writers of America (2010). "The Top 100 Western Songs". American Cowboy. Archived from the original on 10 August 2014. 
  4. ^ Collins, Ace. Songs Sung Red, White, and Blue: The Stories Behind America's Best-Loved Patriotic Songs, p. 62-64.
  5. ^ Collins, Ace. Songs Sung Red, White, and Blue: The Stories Behind America's Best-Loved Patriotic Songs, p. 66-67.
  6. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). The Billboard Book of Top 40 Country Hits: 1944-2006, Second edition. Record Research. p. 162. 
  7. ^ "Concert Vault - Live Concert Recordings Streamed Online". Concerts.wolfgangsvault.com. Retrieved 2016-08-29. 
  8. ^ Video on YouTube
  9. ^ "Clayton, Stew - My Canadian Home". Mocm.ca. Retrieved 2016-08-29. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Collins, Ace. Songs Sung, Red, White, and Blue: The Stories Behind America's Best-Loved Patriotic Songs. HarperResource, 2003. ISBN 0060513047

External links[edit]

Preceded by
"Kansas City" by Wilbert Harrison
Billboard Hot 100 number-one single (Johnny Horton version)
May 26, 1959 – July 6, 1959 (6 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Lonely Boy" by Paul Anka
Preceded by
"White Lightning" by George Jones
Hot C&W Sides
number one single by Johnny Horton

May 18, 1959 - July 20, 1959
(ten weeks)
Succeeded by
"Waterloo" by Stonewall Jackson
Preceded by
"Oh Lonesome Me"
by Don Gibson
Billboard Hot C&W Sides
number-one single of the year

1959
Succeeded by
"Please Help Me, I'm Falling"
by Hank Locklin