Sunday, October 30, 2011

Of Shiloh, Tennessee: Elton John's Song

The Elton John/Leon Russell song, "Gone to Shiloh":-


Here. And here.  A nice cover here.  The original with Neil Young.


Music: Elton John
Lyrics: Bernie Taupin

Luther left us first light Friday morning
Little Dan and Becky waved goodbye
They're gonna have to share the weight together
Idle hands will see a good farm slowly die

chorus

Shoulder to shoulder, side by side
Gone to Shiloh, hope springs eternal
When flags and bullets start to fly

April's come and the air smells fresh with rain
They watched his shadow fade around the bend
He's headed for a different kind of thunder
And the stunned surprise in the eyes of dying men

chorus

Gone to Shiloh for the Union
Shoulder to shoulder, side by side
Gone to Shiloh, time passes slowly
When flags and bullets start to fly

The old black rooster sang him down that dirt road
His step seemed bold, his manner fancy-free
I pray we see him alive and well in the fall here
Than that God-forsaken place in Tennessee

chorus

Gone to Shiloh for the Union
Shoulder to shoulder, side by side
Gone to Shiloh, men stand united
When flags and bullets start to fly

After all of this
If we should prevail
Heaven help the South
When Sherman comes their way

On the album. And this appreciation:

Gone to Shiloh is an automatic standard...an account of one Northern soldier's experience in the U.S. Civil War during the Battle of Shiloh, an early but exceedingly bloody Union victory. Sherman was one of the Union officers leading the troops; he later was promoted to general, and, as some may be aware, led a "scorched earth" campaign through Georgia and South Carolina during the latter stages of the war. Hence the lyric, "Heaven help the South" - not that a belligerent at Shiloh in April 1862 could have foreseen what would happen in late 1864, early 1865, but Taupin the Narrator is permitted a little poetic license here.

"To return to Gone To Shiloh...(it) work(s) about as well on record as in live performance and [is a] gorgeous, emotive song...

This, too:

Gone to Shiloh, which really does highlight the perfect union between John and Russell. Tragic and haunting, Shiloh is reminiscent of a late Johnny Cash as the two men stand 'shoulder by shoulder, side by side'...

...the album's best track, "Gone to Shiloh," seems to invent acoustic cavities it can reverberate throughout. The latter song is, somewhat embarrassingly, an inane Northern answer to "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down," but there's something irreproducible about the combination of Russell's throaty nearness, John's earthen tenor, and Young's yellowing falsetto.

National Park site.  The BattleMap.

The battle of Shiloh, or Pittsburg Landing, was over. It had cost both sides a combined total of 23,746 men killed, wounded, or missing—more casualties than America had suffered in all previous wars.  Some 100,000 troops in total took part.

The Battle takes its name from the church that was constructed there:

The original "Shiloh Meeting House"—a one-room log structure with rude handmade furnishings—was built by the Southern Methodists about 1853, 9 years after the church had split over the slavery issue.

When the Union Army moved upon the field, General Sherman encamped his division along the ridge on either side of the church. It was along this same ridge that he formed his first line of battle on the morning of April 6, 1862, and where he was first attacked by the Confederates. He succeeded in holding the ridge for about 2 hours before he was forced to withdraw.

As soon as Sherman withdrew, General Beauregard established his headquarters at the church. He held the position until the Confederates began their retreat on the second day.

The church was reportedly torn down by the Union troops and the logs used to build bridges when the movement upon Corinth began.

The present structure, completed in 1949, stands on the site of the original church.

The 150th Commemoration nwill take place in 5 months time.

^

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