Songs for your Civil War Trails-inspired Road Trip


History buffs around the country have been commemorating the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War, which officially came to a close in 2015. Despite the end of the sesquicentennial fanfare, there's still plenty of time to visit some of the Civil War sites you may have missed over the past few years. Whether you're road tripping around Virginia's myriad battlegrounds or taking a stroll around Gettysburg's famous streets, here are some songs to get that battle cry of freedom pumping in your heart:

"My Father's Gun" by Elton John

"My Father's Gun" tells the story of a young man who, after burying his father, takes up his gun to join the Confederate army in New Orleans. You might be familiar with it from that scene where Orlando Bloom cries to it in Elizabethtown.



"The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" by The Band

Probably the most famous song on this list, it was written and recorded by The Band in 1969 and has been covered by everyone from Joan Baez and Johnny Cash to the Black Crowes and Zac Brown Band since. The lyrics lament the suffering endured by Southern soldiers as they neared the end of the Civil War and their inevitable defeat.



"Hard Times" by Eastmountainsouth

This song was originally written in 1854 by Stephen Foster, the man also known as the father of American music (his credits include "Oh Susannah," "Camptown Races," "Beautiful Dreamer," and "My Old Kentucky Home," just to name a few). Though it predates the American Civil War, it eventually spawned a parody in 1861 cleverly titled "Hard Tack Come Again No More." Those Union soldiers, what jokers.



"Carry Me Back to Virginia" by Old Crow Medicine Show

Old Crow's lead singer, Ketch Secor, was inspired to write this song after hearing "Carry Me Back to Old Virginny," a song written by African American songwriter James Bland in the 1840s. Old Crow's version tells the story of a young Virginia man who's excitement to fight for the rebels is eventually dampened by the realities of war. It's less dirge-like than the previous three songs, owed especially in part to Secor's fast fiddle playing throughout.



"Two States" by Pavement

This song is actually about the movement to split up California, but it's easy to imagine that Steven Malkmus' inspiration came from the Civil War. It's as short a song as any at 1:49, but the guitar riffs
are fun and so is the chanting.



Kerry Erlanger is a writer from New York (state not city). She can be found on twitter @hellokerry.​