Music of the Civil War Era

Collin F. Stephens: Screwed-Over Genius


Stephens CU

Stephens circa 1862, in a borrowed suit

Many of the songs heard in the documentary, The Battle of Pussy Willow Creek, were written by popular music legend, Collin F. Stephens. Stephens, who was born in 1829 in Wappingers Falls, New York, was an artist in every sense of the term.  From an early age he devoted himself to song writing with religious intensity – forsaking all so-called “normal” pursuits such as marriage and family, friends, hobbies, and any chance at earning a decent living.

Although he had an ardent champion in the person of enigmatic music publisher M. Quint, Stephens’ career  was marked by poverty and humiliation as his songs failed to find an audience – lost, as they were, amongst the superfluity of hack garbage that glutted the industry.  In March of 1865, the 35 year old Stephens, who had been languishing for months on the verge of starvation, was found frozen to death in a cow field, where he had gone in desperation, seeking a small drink of milk.  Ironically, just one week later his most recent composition, Dearest Temperance, burst upon the scene, selling over 2 million copies. This launched a Stephens craze that, with the reissuing of his earlier works, would transform M. Quint Publishing into the colossus it remained until it was purchased by EMI in 1943. Although posterity now marks Stephens as one of America’s most beloved popular composers, 102 years after his death he was to be screwed over a final time by British pop sensation The Beatles, who blatantly ripped off Dearest Temperance with their thinly disguised (yet totally inferior) Dear Prudence.

The following Stephens songs are featured in The Battle of Pussy Willow Creek.

Please click on the player to listen, or on the sheet music covers to enlarge the images (click your browser’s back button to return to this page.)

music_Annie

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

I Dream Of Annie’s Biscuits

transparentspacer

music_Army

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

My Boy, You’re In The Army Now!

transparentspacer


music_Riches

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Riches Fer The Takin’

transparentspacer

music_Massa

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Massa Done Gimme A Present

transparentspacer

music_Whore

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

The Whore’s Lament


The Ballad of the Battle of Pussy Willow Creek

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Although the author is unknown, The Ballad of the Battle of Pussy Willow Creek was most likely written during the short period between the battle and the cover-up, possibly by a member of the 13th R.I. itself.

Somehow the song survived to be recorded by Kip and Butch McElhaney, a singing-and-picking duo that enjoyed some short lived success during the 1950s Folk Revival with their two hit singles, The Musical Fruit and Fingering Sally (for which The Ballad of the Battle of Pussy Willow Creek was the B-side.)

Though many people now consider this song’s lyrics offensive, we must not judge it by today’s standards, but rather take it in the spirit in which it was written – as a paean to the glorious victory wrought by the heroes of the Battle of Pussy Willow Creek.

transparentspacer

Theme to The Battle of Pussy Willow Creek:
Hohokus Adios

13th soldier vertical

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Not technically of the Civil War era (since it was written in 2008), the haunting Hohokus Adios has nonetheless become so identified with that time period that it is practically a full time job for composer Patrick Derivaz to send Cease And Desist letters to the myriads who assume it’s in the public domain and record it without permission.