Soldier's Joy: A Civil War Odyssey

Soldier's Joy: A Civil War Odyssey



The premise of Soldier's Joy: A Civil War Odyssey seems a bit shaky, since it purports to be inspired by Charles Frazier's Cold Mountain novel, and given the high-profile movie made from the book, this disc smacks more of marketing than it does inspiration, especially since most of the songs included here were old even when the Civil War was fought, and the recorded versions selected are 20 or 30 years old. However, Norm Cohen's liner notes, which sketch out the fascinating history of some of these period songs, save this project from the scrap heap; it's interesting to note how much musical borrowing was going on even in the mid-1800s, reminding listeners that sampling is hardly a new phenomenon. "Brother Green" (done here on banjo by Leroy Troy) takes its melody from the ancient folk tune "Barbara Allen," and has also been recorded as "The Dying Soldier." The story (a dying soldier communicates his dying wish) is maudlin, but that melody, in whatever guise, is supremely beautiful. The melody to "Aura Lee," supposedly written in 1861 by W.W. Fosdick, is also achingly beautiful (it is done here by Simon Grace), and should be familiar to most listeners, since it was lifted for Elvis Presley's "Love Me Tender," recorded in 1956.

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