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Songs about Napoleon

DigiTrad:
BONAPARTE
BONAPARTE'S RETREAT
BONAPARTE'S RETREAT
DONE WITH BONAPARTE
NAPOLEON BONAPARTE
THE DREAM OF NAPOLEON
THE GRAND CONVERSATION OF NAPOLEON


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NormanD 10 Apr 05 - 07:28 AM
The Borchester Echo 10 Apr 05 - 07:48 AM
OtherDave 10 Apr 05 - 09:27 AM
Severn 10 Apr 05 - 09:59 AM
Phil Cooper 10 Apr 05 - 10:17 AM
The Borchester Echo 10 Apr 05 - 10:19 AM
NormanD 10 Apr 05 - 10:28 AM
Uncle_DaveO 10 Apr 05 - 10:38 AM
GUEST,Joe_F 10 Apr 05 - 10:51 AM
GUEST,sarah 10 Apr 05 - 10:52 AM
HuwG 10 Apr 05 - 11:09 AM
belfast 10 Apr 05 - 11:11 AM
Uncle_DaveO 10 Apr 05 - 12:19 PM
GUEST,celtaddict at work 10 Apr 05 - 12:34 PM
wildlone 10 Apr 05 - 01:01 PM
The Walrus 10 Apr 05 - 01:33 PM
Nigel Parsons 10 Apr 05 - 01:39 PM
SINSULL 10 Apr 05 - 01:44 PM
michaelr 10 Apr 05 - 02:17 PM
HuwG 10 Apr 05 - 03:00 PM
GUEST,Spence 10 Apr 05 - 03:09 PM
OtherDave 10 Apr 05 - 03:36 PM
GUEST,Allen 10 Apr 05 - 04:18 PM
Santa 10 Apr 05 - 05:27 PM
Bearheart 10 Apr 05 - 05:32 PM
GUEST 10 Apr 05 - 05:44 PM
Snuffy 10 Apr 05 - 06:11 PM
GUEST,cromdubh 10 Apr 05 - 06:21 PM
Santa 10 Apr 05 - 06:48 PM
GUEST,Dale 10 Apr 05 - 07:26 PM
The Walrus 10 Apr 05 - 07:57 PM
Susanne (skw) 10 Apr 05 - 08:30 PM
Desert Dancer 10 Apr 05 - 10:53 PM
Desert Dancer 10 Apr 05 - 10:56 PM
Malcolm Douglas 11 Apr 05 - 03:03 AM
GUEST,Songsmith 11 Apr 05 - 06:48 AM
Emma B 11 Apr 05 - 07:41 AM
GUEST,Joe_F 11 Apr 05 - 10:18 AM
Big Al Whittle 11 Apr 05 - 04:41 PM
Phil Cooper 11 Apr 05 - 04:43 PM
Tradsinger 11 Apr 05 - 04:55 PM
Kevin Sheils 12 Apr 05 - 10:44 AM
katlaughing 12 Apr 05 - 11:21 AM
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Subject: Songs about Napoleon
From: NormanD
Date: 10 Apr 05 - 07:28 AM

On the wonderful new CD by Barry Dransfield ("Unruly" - you really must buy a copy!) there's a song called "Grand Conversation" which, although it sounds very New Labour (ha ha), is a broadsheet ballad about Napoleon Bonaparte. The song is a narrative ballad, and not particularly anti-Bonaparte or even anti-French. So, could anyone give me their views on why there were so many pro-Bonaparte songs in Britain that appear to celebrate the life of this dictator? Was it because he posed a threat and an alternative to "our" own despotic monarchy and ruling class of the early-19th Century?

Other ideas, and examples of other Bonaparte songs much appreciated.

Regards

Norman D.


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Subject: RE: Songs about Napoleon
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 10 Apr 05 - 07:48 AM

Loads of stuff here.

And this about Gordon Hall from whom Barry Dransfield got the song.

Unruly isn't out till 16 May on the new Violin Workshop label. Tell your suppliers when placing your orders that it will be distributed by Proper. It is truly gorgeous.


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Subject: RE: Songs about Napoleon
From: OtherDave
Date: 10 Apr 05 - 09:27 AM

Capercaillie sings one in Gaelic --
"Bonaparte" -- lyrics on this page in Gaelic and English.

O gu sunndach mi air m' astar,
Falbh gu siubhlach le bheag airtneul,
Do a chomhrag ri Bonaparte,
'S e bha bagairt air Righ Deors'.


"I'm happy on my journey,
Travelling swiftly without flagging,
Heading off to do battle with Bonaparte,
He it was who threatened King George."


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Subject: RE: Songs about Napoleon
From: Severn
Date: 10 Apr 05 - 09:59 AM

Drummer Boy of Waterloo
Boneparte's Retreat
Plains Of Waterloo
Boney (Sea Shanty)
Bonaparte Crossing The Rhine (fiddle tune)


...immediately come to mind.


There's gotta be a site where you can pull up a netload of these things in one trawl.


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Subject: RE: Songs about Napoleon
From: Phil Cooper
Date: 10 Apr 05 - 10:17 AM

Bonnie Light Horseman, Bonnie Bunch of Roses are both songs with a Napoleon reference. I seem to think of those songs a lot more these days with Bush's current folly.

A new Barry Dransfield album? Sign me up!


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Subject: RE: Songs about Napoleon
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 10 Apr 05 - 10:19 AM

There's gotta be a site where you can pull up a netload of these things in one trawl

...which is why I linked to Vic Gammon's paper on Napoleon and Popular Balladry above.


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Subject: RE: Songs about Napoleon
From: NormanD
Date: 10 Apr 05 - 10:28 AM

Ta, richard, both links are really good and fill in a lot of the background to my query.
There are surely more songs about Bonaparte than any of his English contemporaries. Who'd want to sing about Wellington or Castlereagh (though Shelley did a good demolition job on the latter).

And the new Barry Dransfield album is as good as richard suggests


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Subject: RE: Songs about Napoleon
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 10 Apr 05 - 10:38 AM

Songs about Napoleon?

"Giddyup, Napoleon, it looks like rain!!

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Songs about Napoleon
From: GUEST,Joe_F
Date: 10 Apr 05 - 10:51 AM

And if the horse counts, why not the pig?

Friend of fatherless!

Fountain of happiness!

Lord of the swill-bucket! Oh, how my soul is on

Fire when I gaze at thy

Calm and commanding eye,

Like the sun in the sky,

Comrade Napoleon!                                     -- George Orwell

--- Joe Fineman    joe_f@verizon.net

||: When tempted to make a generalization about Christians, try it out on Communists, and vice versa. :||


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Subject: RE: Songs about Napoleon
From: GUEST,sarah
Date: 10 Apr 05 - 10:52 AM

Try Waterson Carthy's 'Fishes and Fine Yellow Sand' album, Tim Van Eyken sings a song called 'Napoleons Death'. Sleeve notes tell you quite a bit about it as well.

Sarah


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Subject: RE: Songs about Napoleon
From: HuwG
Date: 10 Apr 05 - 11:09 AM

Slightly more modern, "Done with Bonaparte", by Mark Knopfler.


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Subject: RE: Songs about Napoleon
From: belfast
Date: 10 Apr 05 - 11:11 AM

There is a double CD by Frank Harte on Hummingbird records. I hesitate to use the word 'definitive' but if I did I would use it here.


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Subject: RE: Songs about Napoleon
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 10 Apr 05 - 12:19 PM

Good ole fiddle tunes:

Napoleon Crossing the Rhine
and
Buonaparte's Retreat

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Songs about Napoleon
From: GUEST,celtaddict at work
Date: 10 Apr 05 - 12:34 PM

I have read that there were more songs written about Napoleon Bonaparte than about any other person in history or legend except Jesus Christ.


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Subject: RE: Songs about Napoleon
From: wildlone
Date: 10 Apr 05 - 01:01 PM

Thanks for the link richard,
Napoleon was a man who frightened the whole of Europe and ended up in control of most of it.
As a re-enactor with the 41st foot we had no dealings with the French tyrant.
We were keeping the dastardly johnathons out of Canada.
BTW some of the rebelious colonists that I have talked to in the UK like to think that the war of 1812 was won by America.
I like to point out,
Buckingham palace was never burned
Canada is not a state of the US.

41st Foot web page
dave [waiting with fixed bayonet for the attack]***BG***


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Subject: RE: Songs about Napoleon
From: The Walrus
Date: 10 Apr 05 - 01:33 PM

"Boney Was a Warrior"

The 'popularity' of the Napoleon theme for songs seem to me, to be based partly on disaffection with the changing society (this was the era of the Industrial Revolution and Ludditism in Britain), Irish disaffection, and post war low level 'passive rebellion' in the era of 'Peterloo' from the dis-enfranchised.


Wildlone,

"...Buckingham palace was never burned..."
But York (Toronto) was - hence the burning of Washington.

More importantly, The US invaded Canada ...and were repulsed.
The conditions of the peace treaty were Status ante bellum - or no change from the situation before the war.
The American claim sems to be based on the fact that the Royal Navy never pressed American seamen into service again, but that was probably due to the fact that, by the time the American ar was over, the (more important) European war was also over and there was no need for additional sailors.

Walrus


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Subject: RE: Songs about Napoleon
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 10 Apr 05 - 01:39 PM

Good timing for this thread, I've just rec'd the latest newsletter from Newport (South Wales) Folk Club. They're having a 'Theme Night' 16th June 2005 and the theme? . . .

Drinking & The Napoleonic War

Nigel


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Subject: RE: Songs about Napoleon
From: SINSULL
Date: 10 Apr 05 - 01:44 PM

1812 Overture?


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Subject: RE: Songs about Napoleon
From: michaelr
Date: 10 Apr 05 - 02:17 PM

Slight thread creep: Has anyone seen the film "The Emperor's New Clothes" with Ian Holm as Napoleon? The premise is that Bonaparte was replaced with a double who then sneaks back to France to reclaim his throne -- but no one in France wants him back.

It's a pretty funny film.

Cheers,
Michael


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Subject: RE: Songs about Napoleon
From: HuwG
Date: 10 Apr 05 - 03:00 PM

Napoleon's retreat from Wigan by Mike Harding.


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Subject: RE: Songs about Napoleon
From: GUEST,Spence
Date: 10 Apr 05 - 03:09 PM

William Blake's Songs of Innocence and Experience includes 'Tyger Tyger' (in the 'Experience' section), which has been reckoned a commentary on the French Revolution. Blake used to wear a red cap to show sympathy for the revolutionary cause, until 'The Terror' started, and he became aware just what a ghastly, bloodthirsty business it was.

One can see how the French republic and Boney would have become romantic rallying points for the Brit commoners, stuck under the yoke of an idle, corrupt, self-interested monarchy, and whose struggles towards self-emancipation eg the Tolpuddle Martyrs had been dealt with cruelly. The fact that Napoleon himself was a tyrant and warmonger would have been conveniently overlooked, just as the modern British left have lionised Castro and Trotsky while refusing to 'fess up to their police state methods.

So, plus ca change, plus la meme chose. Except they arguably got better songs out of it in the old days.


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Subject: RE: Songs about Napoleon
From: OtherDave
Date: 10 Apr 05 - 03:36 PM

Napoleanic contribution sung by Mary Black:
Isle of St. Helena

No more in St.-Cloud will he appear in great splendor
Nor step forth from the crowd like the great Alexander
He may look to the east while he thinks on Lucana
With his heart full of woe on the Isle of St. Helena...


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Subject: RE: Songs about Napoleon
From: GUEST,Allen
Date: 10 Apr 05 - 04:18 PM

Actualy most Britons weren't pro-Napoleon. He was popularly thought of as the little Corsican ogre.


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Subject: RE: Songs about Napoleon
From: Santa
Date: 10 Apr 05 - 05:27 PM

I think that most of the pro-Napoleon songs are from Irish sources rather than British. I don't offhand recall any English ones, downtrodden masses or not. Aggro was directed against our own tyrants..."we have bigger Boney's of our own" springs to mind. Unfortunately the title of this song doesn't - one of the Strawhead pieces (Perhaps from The Old Lamb and Flag? I think I can hear Pat Ryan's voice....). "Little Bantam Emperor" is rather more of the English attitude.

On a similar line, why did Santiana (Santa Anna) of Alamo fame become such a popular star of sea shanties? Were the Americans that unpopular then?


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Subject: RE: Songs about Napoleon
From: Bearheart
Date: 10 Apr 05 - 05:32 PM

I have the Frank Harte CD and it is excellent. There are some very good liner notes on the history of Europe at the time, including a section on Napoleon and the Irish-- who were struggling to free themselves from British rule, and had the example of America' war for independence in front of them. Many of the pro-Napoleon ballads are of Irish origin for this reason.

Whatever you think of all of this political stuff, some of the best ballads in the English language are in this catagory, and not a few of them are on this cd. (Many of them I'd catagorize as anti-war ballads...) And if you like simple, unadorned (but not unornamented!)traditional Irish singing, this is some of the finest. Much of it is unaccompanied; where it is accompanied, Donal Lunny never takes center stage but always gives the singer the preference.
It took me a long time to track the cd down but it was well worth it.

Bekki


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Subject: RE: Songs about Napoleon
From: GUEST
Date: 10 Apr 05 - 05:44 PM

The songs in the Harte CD are wonderful, but they don't hold up his arguments that well.


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Subject: RE: Songs about Napoleon
From: Snuffy
Date: 10 Apr 05 - 06:11 PM

Santa

"we have bigger tyrants and Boney's of our own" is from The Handloom Weavers Lament which I (and probably you) learned from the Deep Lancashire LP 35-odd years ago

You tyrants of England,
Your race may soon be run
You may be brought unto account
For what you've sorely done


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Subject: RE: Songs about Napoleon
From: GUEST,cromdubh
Date: 10 Apr 05 - 06:21 PM

Sean Garvey does a great version of the Bonnie Bunch of Roses on his recent album of the same name I think.


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Subject: RE: Songs about Napoleon
From: Santa
Date: 10 Apr 05 - 06:48 PM

Thanks, Snuffy, Tyrants it is. However, I wasn't in Lancashire 35 years ago. I certainly have heard it by Strawhead but it could well have been the Taverners before them.


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Subject: RE: Songs about Napoleon
From: GUEST,Dale
Date: 10 Apr 05 - 07:26 PM

Warlike Lads Of Russia

Around here you might hear "Bonaparte Crossing The Ozarks" every now and then. I'm not too sure how factual that might be.


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Subject: RE: Songs about Napoleon
From: The Walrus
Date: 10 Apr 05 - 07:57 PM

I suspect that some of the English pro-Boney songs might post date the War, when there was still unrest but no French threat. More a sort of 'we need a Napoleon of our own' theme.

By the bye,
"...and whose struggles towards self-emancipation eg the Tolpuddle Martyrs had been dealt with cruelly..."
Wasn't Tolpuddle post 1815?

W


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Subject: RE: Songs about Napoleon
From: Susanne (skw)
Date: 10 Apr 05 - 08:30 PM

Louis Killen sings 'A Grand Conversation on Napoleon' on his CD 'The Rose In June' (2001). According to the liner notes, he first learnt it from Harry Boardman.


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Subject: RE: Songs about Napoleon
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 10 Apr 05 - 10:53 PM

About the Frank Harte album historical notes, reviewer Geoff Wallis at the Musical Traditions site had this to say:

They are inaccurate, tendentious, chronologically confused and confusing, poorly edited, repetitive and littered with typographical errors.

So, a word of caution. Fine songs and singing though. :-)

~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: RE: Songs about Napoleon
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 10 Apr 05 - 10:56 PM

Sorry, that link gets you to the last part of that review. Here it is from the top.

~ B in T


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Subject: RE: Songs about Napoleon
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 11 Apr 05 - 03:03 AM

It used to be "received wisdom" that songs that dealt more-or-less sympathetically with Napoleon must somehow be Irish, but this is to ignore political developments in Britain at that time. Certainly some are Irish at least in part (The Bonny Bunch of Roses was set specifically to an Irish tune) but others don't appear to be, and were if anything more popular in England and Scotland.

There is more work to be done on the whole subject, and the identity of George Brown (credited on some broadsides as writer of various songs, including The Bonny Bunch of Roses) is one question that I'd like to see answered. We won't be getting much reliable information from Frank Harte, though, it seems.


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Subject: RE: Songs about Napoleon
From: GUEST,Songsmith
Date: 11 Apr 05 - 06:48 AM

You must remember that Frank Harte didn't set out to release a cd to educate folk about Napoleon he wanted to share his collection of Napoleonic Ballads, and didn't he do it well!
I collect Napoleonic ballads in written and recorded form and as yet on cd I have not come across anything to match 'My name is Napoleon Bonaparte' by Frank Harte.
One more that springs to mind:
Fallen Boney

There are so many that it is difficult to pick which I prefer but if pushed 'The Bonny Light Horseman'

cheers Songsmith


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Subject: RE: Songs about Napoleon
From: Emma B
Date: 11 Apr 05 - 07:41 AM

The Isle of St Helena is possibly my favourite but has anyone mentioned the shanty "Boney"?

Boney was a warrior, Way-aye-yah
A war-ri-or, A ter-ri-or John-ny Fran-swor

Stan Hugill in "Shanties from the Seven Seas" comments on the arguments why British sailors sang about a famous enemy but concluded it was probably simply for the pleasure of using "furrin" words and phrases


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Subject: RE: Songs about Napoleon
From: GUEST,Joe_F
Date: 11 Apr 05 - 10:18 AM

Napoleon, like Stalin, inherited a revolution with liberal & internationalist pretensions, and turned it into an instrument of imperial foreign policy. He had the use of fellow travelers in foreign countries, who took a lesser or greater while to catch on to his betrayal.

--- Joe Fineman    joe_f@verizon.net

||: Deficient contact with reality is called mania. Excessive contact with reality is called depression. :||


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Subject: RE: Songs about Napoleon
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 11 Apr 05 - 04:41 PM

The late Tony Capstick could sing The Bonny Bunch of Roses really beutifully.


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Subject: RE: Songs about Napoleon
From: Phil Cooper
Date: 11 Apr 05 - 04:43 PM

There's an American Old Time tune called Bonaparte Crossing the Rockies that the Volo Bogtrotters recorded a few years back. Not historically accurate, but a great tune.


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Subject: RE: Songs about Napoleon
From: Tradsinger
Date: 11 Apr 05 - 04:55 PM

Drink old England Dry has England worrying about Boney taxing English beer.

There's a song called "Pompalarie Jig" about Napoleon. I learnt it from Ray Driscoll. Anyone out there come across it?

Gwilym


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Subject: RE: Songs about Napoleon
From: Kevin Sheils
Date: 12 Apr 05 - 10:44 AM

Certainly some are Irish at least in part (The Bonny Bunch of Roses was set specifically to an Irish tune) but others don't appear to be, and were if anything more popular in England and Scotland.

One other song which clearly has developed from an Irish tune is Sam Larner of Norfolk's "Napoleons Dream" which, to my ear is certainly musically related to The Minstrel Boy.

Strangely I don't think it appears on The Frank Harte CD, possibly because it may only have been found in England, Irish tune notwithstanding.


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Subject: RE: Songs about Napoleon
From: katlaughing
Date: 12 Apr 05 - 11:21 AM

I've always loved this poem, but never heard it set to music. It certainly expresses some of the pro-Napoleon British sentiments, though:

Napoleon and the British Sailor.

Also, there's a thread somewhere here about the above mentioned tune, Napoleon Crossing the Rockies.

kat


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