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Sunday, April 28. 2013
Interesting song, written about Texas' War of Independence from the vantage point of a black Texan soldier. Later, adapted and adopted as a Confederacy song.
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I'll come back in a couple hours and tell that story --Santa Anna is involved --
Meanwhile, Dr. Scott, at the tail end of the 'Dixie' thread (Georgia is sho nuff having a fine effect on the Bird Dog!), left a URL of Bob Dylan singing that song --over a truly remarkable slide show of ordinary folk in the deep south back in the mostly 1920s and 30s. Photos.
The hyperlink 'interesting song' is dysfunctional, BD. First, i got a popup asking if i wanted to add the site to google photo screensaver, to which i acceded (no doubt to my future humiliation when the family womenfolk are enjoying my outdoor photo files and the nude dominatrixes of slobovia pop up), then, it went to a wiki called "Bad Title", which nutshell said, 'so solly, no tickee no laundry'.
The song is traditionally about a woman named Emily D. West (or Morgan) who, oddly enough, was from New Haven, CT and was an indentured servant to a certain James Morgan.
According to legend, Ms. West (Morgan) was captured by Santa Anna in New Washington at the first Battle of San Jacinto along with others. As the story goes, Ms. West was with Santa Anna when Sam Houston's reinforced troops counter attacked catching Santa Anna with his pants down so to speak in theory caused by Ms. West's beauty and her ability to seduce. Santa Anna was captured the next day.
Yellow Rose is a reference to Ms. West's status as a "high yellow" - meaning that she was a light coffee color with Caucasian features.
Aren't you glad you asked?
--that reminds me of this wine-taster feller who was holding forth at the restaurant bar. A small crowd was gathered round passing him shot glasses of this or that beverage, which he'd bottom ups and announce what it was and where it 'us from. "Beaujolaise," he'd announce, "...from the Rhone are just north of Lyon!" Everyone'd applaud and pass him another. "Pinot Gregoire, from the Borgo Magredo!" More applause. "Brandy, from the Red Road Winery in Naples, Texas!" More applause, another jigger bottoms up. But this one, he spits out as quick as he can and screams "That's PISS!" Then a feller in the back of the crowd pipes up "Well of course --but what's my NAME?"
There's a lesson there - not sure what, but there is a lesson there.
...that asking "Aren't you glad you asked?" almost never leaves one better off than before one asked it.
What Tom said is the story I have heard again and again here in Texas to explain the song. Even if Santa Anna wasn't seducing The Yellow Rose, he certainly was distracted by SOMETHING on that fateful day at San Jacinto. God bless her!
Camping along a soggy river, orderly displacement to the rear impossible (most of the Mexian KIA in the Battle of San Jacinto drowned in the bogs, trying to get away from the ferocious Texian rush, which featured the battle cry "Remember the Alamo" and "Remember Goliad"). Did not know of Sam Houston's night march for the pre-dawn attack, because he'd not sent any lancers out to screen the Texians, who after all had been on the run from him since the Runaway Scrape that followed the Deguello ('no quarter --no prisoners -kill them all') at the Alamo. And she was in his small inner circle, in the camp. So the powerful circumstantial evidence is that he was working on non-military matters.
this is a nice URL --pictures, and every one you open puts you in a slide show of them all, but larger and you have the button. Also the whole war's place names are linked column right. Read 'Runaway Scrape' and you see why Santa Anna was overconfident. Sam Houston had the grit to endure a growing contempt from his own army because he kept marching away from the Mexican army apparently skeered to fight. Sam knew the classics --including Cannae, where Hannibal had encircled and wiped out a Roman army twice his army's size --after he had made them overconfident.
One of my good friends lives in San Jacinto County and I heard that story years ago including details of the battle.
The whole thing stuck in my mind because Ms. West (Morgan) was from New Haven, CT. Then recently, somebody I know on Facebook published something about the movie "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon" (a Texan no less) saying that the song was about Ms. Wests and the Battle of San Jacinto.
Needless to say, I corrected him immediately so it was still fresh in my mind so to speak.
yep --the story i sketched a little of, above, i just learned, is wrong. After a lifetime of imagining it wrong, last night i'm reading
this close-sourced account, and according to this it was not a pre-dawn attack, it was a middle-of-the-afternoon attack. Trying to figure out why the dawn story is so widespread, i think it must be because what sticks in the mind is that the bulk of the Mexican army was asleep when the attack commenced. But, it was the siesta, not the overnight, sleep.
("Siesta" --a beautiful sounding word, and a helluva healthy practice i'm sure. Excepting this case, of course)
Note, the URL refers to the surprise factor in the battle:
General Houston disposed his forces in battle order at about 3:30 in the afternoon. Over on the Mexican side all was quiet; many of the foemen were enjoying their customary siesta. The Texans' movements were screened by the trees and the rising ground, and evidently Santa Anna had no lookouts posted.
This brings us, intact and in tact, back to the story of the Yellow Rose of Texas.
This brings us, intact and in tact, back to the story of the Yellow Rose of Texas and the story of Santa Anna...
Thanks, TC --that was really good --Donovan, at that.
Especially thanks for what i found in the rec's there --The Deguello, that Moorish trumpet or bugle charge --it's hard to find, because the various movies have played a slow ballad featuring a melodic trumpet, and called it "Deguello".
This guy, Scott Moss over in Mineral Wells has done a 'labor of love' thing, playing the slow march over on-screen text introducing the actual cavalry charge broadcasting across the battlefield the ''take no prisoners'' command --from the sheet music in the Mexican archives.
It starts at :55 seconds and runs to 1:35.
Then more slow march and text, mentioning that Santa Anna had fourteen (14!) marching bands in his army, and he had them all dispersed around all four directions, a brass aural whirlpool around the Alamo defenders, already outnumbered 10, then 15, then 20 to one, as fresh units came up during the 13 day battle.
The first-person reports, mostly Mexican but also the parties of women, children, and servants that were spared and sent walking to Gonzales to spread the terror, mention the constant playing of those bands.
So here Scott walker plays the bugle charge again, from 2:25 to 3:35, only this time he loops it, in disharmony, as if you're there in the center of those 14 bands, and adds in the swelling gunfire, rifle, musket, cannon.
The effect is a brief hint at what those guys must've heard, already knowing the violent end of their lives was very near and coming on fast.
BTW, the Marty Robbins and Johnny Cash songs are great, too. Robbins has an original i think i remember from middle or high school days. Cash sings the Jane Bowers song, same as Donovan.
Jane Bowers --and "Remember the Alamo" --are actually modern era --she was born in the 1920s and died in yr 2000 over in San Antone. You can't get the KT versionin youtube, as the copyright is in the hands of so and so who has pulled it and another KT great "Coast of California" off the web. I still have the LP, the original 331/3rd album --played so many times you can see through it.
Read about Jane here:
She didn't much like the KT boys --tho they collaberated on at least a half dozen songs. Easy to see why --they were a generation younger, college boys from calypso surfer Golden California, and she was old-line Catholic San Antonio, half-Mexican from the old Spanish Crown land grant era.
If you ever find ''Coast of California" the Dave Guard clawhammer banjo intro will knock yer socks off. He was teachinhg himself that technique as they were making the ablum. Them guys knew their tools, back in the acoustic & vacuum tubes era.
oh, one other thing:
--there's about a half dozen links across the top of the page --start with the ''victory or death'' letter. Amazing grit in that 19th century anglosphere.
"The Coast of California"
That is definitely an amazin' good cover!
My favorite version is Stan Freberg's: