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December 13

History Recall: Johnny Horton’s “The Battle of New Orleans”

In April 1959, Johnny Horton’s released his cover of a tune that delivered a comical interpretation of a historical event that involved our American soldiers.

Written by Jimmy Driftwood, The Battle of New Orleans is a lighter take on the events that transpired during the said 1812 encounter.

Out of all the many versions and renditions of the song, it was Johnny Horton’s that stood out the most.

It reached the number 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1959. It was also such a hit to the teens in 1959 due to the heavy emergence of rock and roll. An alternative version of the song was also recorded by Johnny Horton prior to his rendition’s release in the British Commonwealth countries. The changes involved replacing the words ‘British’ with ‘Rebels’ as well as omitting lyrics that spoke unfavorable things about the Brits.

Often played during sporting events in North America, as well as during the National Hockey League’s Calgary Flames home games, The Battle of New Orleans was created with its melody taking roots from the American fiddle song, The 8th of January.

It was written and produced with the goal of gauging the interest of students in the events of American history.

Their intentions proved to be successful since it became a big hit to the younger generation at the time of the song’s popularization. Horton was awarded a Gold Record for The Battle of New Orleans. But he later asked RIAA’s Bill Gallagher, the person who gave him the award, if he could trade it for four Golden Guitar awards instead. Even his wife agreed with his decision, stating that the Golden Guitar fit him better than the Gold Record did. Johnny Horton was also awarded Best Country and Western Performance in 1959, while composer Jimmy Driftwood brought home the Grammy award for Song of the Year.


Tags

American History, Battle of New Orleans, Johnny Horton


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