Friday Five: April 14th

Juli Thanki | April 15th, 2011

Hopefully you all got through yesterday without incident, because April 14 is the anniversary of some pretty awful events. Let’s check out some songs about it.

  • She Waits for Night5. “Booth Shot Lincoln” – Uncle Earl

    The assassination at Ford’s Theatre occurred on the night of April 14, 1865, when President Lincoln and his wife were attending a performance of Our American Cousin. This traditional song has been recorded several times; my favorite version is from Uncle Earl’s She Waits for Night.

  • The Sacred Shakers4. “Titanic” – The Sacred Shakers

    The great ship hit the iceberg late on the night of April 14, 1912 during her maiden voyage, claiming John Jacob Astor IV—who’s mentioned in the Shakers’ fantastic version of Blind Willie Johnson’s “God Moves on the Water”—and over 1500 other men and women.

  • People Take Warning! Murder Ballads & Disaster Songs 1913-19383. “The Titanic” – Ernest V. Stoneman

    Stoneman’s song was recorded a dozen years after the tragedy, and, according to the liner notes of The Unsung Father of Country Music, it sold “well into six figures.” The song is far more enjoyable than the movie, and is three hours shorter. Win-win.

  • Dust Bowl Ballads2. “The Great Dust Storm” – Woody Guthrie

    April 14, 1935 was “Black Sunday,” named for the horrendous dust storms that hit the Plains. In case the pictures in your eighth grade history textbook weren’t scary enough, listening to Guthrie sing about the “deathlike black” clouds and families who “thought the world had ended and they thought it was their doom” is another confirmation about how terrifying the storms must have been.

  • Time (The Revelator)1. “April the 14th, Part 1/Ruination Day, Part 2” – Gillian Welch

    Gillian Welch sums up the date with these mournful songs from Time (The Revelator): “The great boat sank and the Okies fled/And the Great Emancipator took a bullet in the head.”

  1. Ken Morton, Jr.
    April 15, 2011 at 11:00 am

    My most-memorable Titanic song is from outside the country genre, but Peter Schilling- the “Major Tom” guy from Germany- sang a song called “Terra Titanic” that had the great line:

    The rats have the sense to abandon the ship/ While the captain adjusts his tuxedo a bit/ With his glass raised up as the ice water hits.

  2. Rick
    April 15, 2011 at 6:24 pm

    Interesting songs Juli. Its too bad the Edmund Fitzgerald didn’t also sink on this date as well…

    [Edited]

  3. Mary Katherine
    April 16, 2011 at 11:27 am

    Thanks for both the history and music lesson. Never before noticed all the historic events of this one date. I knew April 19 & 20 in my generation are tragic dates-Oklahoma City, Columbine, Waco-but never connected all the events on the 14th. Don’t suppose you can find 5 country songs about the more recent tragedies to highlight next week? Then again, maybe it’s better to shift from death and grimness to something more happy next week? Either way, I really enjoy your Friday Fives every week.

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