Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Fourth of July

Just before it got too hot Tuesday, while the morning sun steamed every last bit of cool dew from the morning grass, I held my own musical service in honor of the Fourth of July.

I sat at my writing desk and taught myself Eric Merrill's version of "Blue Eyed Boston Boy," one of the best I've ever heard.

This old folk tune is about a promise made between two soldiers before a horrible battle. Whoever survived would write the other's loved ones back and home, and tenderly tell the news. Neither survived.

Something about the way this story is told, though, absolutely soars you above the whole scene, where you hover like an angel.

He was just a blue-eyed Boston boy
His voice was low with pain
I'll do your bidding comrade mine
If I ride back again.

But if you ride back and I am left
You'll do as much for me
Mother, you know, must hear the news
So write to her tenderly.

She's waiting at home like a patient saint
Her fond face pale with woe
Her heart will be broken when I am gone
I'll see her soon I know.

Just then the order came to charge
For an instant hand touched hand
They said "aye" and away they rode
That brave and devoted band.

Straight was the track to the top of the hill
The rebels they shot and shelled
Ploughed furrows of death through the toiling ranks
And guarded them as they fell.

There soon came a horrible dying yell
From heights they could not gain
And those that doom and death had spared
Rode slowly back again.

But among the dead that were left on the hill
Was the boy with the curly hair
The tall dark man that rode by his side
Lay dead beside him there.

There's no one to write to the blue-eyed girl
The words her lover had said
Mama, you know, awaits the news
She'll only know he's dead.

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