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Musing on Music: Historic battle and silly prattle

The Battle of New Orleans” is a song about a historic battle during the War of 1812, the first war after the American Revolution, where the founders of our nation were able to stand their ground and keep the U.S. separate from Britain.

This funny tune starts with the lyrics, “In 1814 we took a little trip/Along with Colonel Jackson down the mighty Mississip,’” referring to Colonel Andrew Jackson, who became President Andrew Jackson, and the Mississippi River.
     It’s a song, not necessarily of extreme accuracy, from a soldier’s point of view about chasing the British out of United States territory. This is expressed by the chorus lyrics, “We fired our guns and the British kept a-comin’/…/We fired once more and they began to runnin’/On down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico.”

The song also brags about American clever wit as a direct reflection on the British lack of wit, even though the success may have been more due to their familiarity with the geography in comparison with the British soldiers’ lack of that knowledge. Also, the song discusses the historic quote of “Old Hickory” or “Stonewall” Jackson’s in the lyrics; “Old Hickory said we could take ‘em by surprise/If we didn’t fire our muskets ‘till we looked ‘em in the eyes.”
     To complete the humiliating of the British in this song, the lyrics add to the description of fleeing battle, “Yeah they ran through the briers and they ran through the brambles, and they ran through the bushes where a rabbit couldn’t go/They ran so fast that the hounds couldn’t catch ‘em/On down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico.”

It ends with a military chant, meant to leave an inspirational, patriotic feeling in the minds of listeners.

“The Battle of Cucamonga” is a parody of the “Battle of New Orleans” song, and it’s absolutely hilarious and perhaps relatable for some. It’s about a Boy Scout troop camping trip. The lyrics and tune are styled after the song, as is the title, although there isn’t really any battle that occurs in the song. The starting lyrics are, “In Nineteen and fifty-nine we took a little hike/With our Scoutmaster down to Lake Aneekanike/We took a little pizza and we took some sauerkraut/And we marched along together till we heard the Girl Scouts.” Honestly, it’s about some young boys attempting to see some young girls in a Girl Scout troop, also on a camping trip, without their clothes on. It’s pervy – but in a funny, almost innocent way. Listening to the song you can almost see the blushing boys’ faces during certain lyrics from the way the words are sung. The chorus is “Oh, we’re the boys from Camp Cucamonga/Our mothers sent us here for to study Nature’s ways/We learn to make sparks by rubbing sticks together/But if we catch the girls then we’ll set the woods ablaze.”
      The song makes fun of the distraction some boys experience in the presence of girls, especially girls they find attractive. For instance, I doubt that in real life young boys would knowingly give themselves a rash or not scratch it just to peep on women. I say this because some of the lyrics are, “They looked so fine even birds forgot to sing/We laid down in the poison oak and didn’t say a thing.”

Maybe one of the funniest parts of the song is the fact that the troop leader joins in and encourages the young men, giving them advice on how to best see the girls. Of course, the reason for this verse is also a way to parody the original song, since the lyrics also talk about looking “them” in the eyes, ending the verse with, “We kept real still, and we had our eyes a-glued/We saw how they were dressed – they were swimming in the…well now…”

This portion of the song continues to model “The Battle of New Orleans” with a verse about chasing the girls through briar patches but ends more hilariously with, “Well, we ran right after them till everyone was pooped/So we rested for a minute and our forces we regrouped/Then we saw the girls behind some evergreens/Captured by a company of United States Marines.” The child-like word-choice is another aspect of the song that allows it to remain so completely ridiculous and hilarious in my mind.

The song ends with a cute and hilarious set of male voices attempting to sound like children, much in the way of Robin Williams, singing this little ditty: “A rooty toot toot/ a rooty toot toot/Oh, we are the boys from the Boy Scout troop/We don’t smoke, and we don’t chew/And we don’t go with the girls that do!”

I’ve loved these songs as a young girl, mostly because I find them funny, though I appreciate the historical aspects of “The Battle of New Orleans” more now that I understand it. However, “The Battle of Cucamonga” is my favorite of the two and will forever hold its charm for me because I really am a sucker for comedy. What can I say? I love to laugh.

Gabrielle is a junior majoring in French and business administration. Follow Gabrielle on Twitter @bookwormwillow

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