Play the Fife Lowly

Heather and I often watch reruns of Lawrence Welk shows.  It’s a reminder of older days and the music that was one part of my childhood.  From time to I’ll hear a song that I once played on the piano or sung in the choir.  This weekend the country singer, Clay Hart, sung, “The Streets of Laredo,” also known as “The Cowboy’s Lament.”

Here’s an early version from Hart:

This is a traditional western ballad and has many versions.

This line in the refrain is haunting: “Bang the drum slowly and play the fife lowly.”

Perhaps a more famous version would be Marty Robbins:

There are many other versions as it seems like every country singer at that time had a version of this song.

Being reminded of this song came on the same day of the news of John McCain’s death, which made me thing of the song Sgt. MacKenzie.  This song was used at great effect for the last battle scene in the Vietnam movie, “We Where Soldiers.”  This song was written in WWI, but its power is still there.  Here’s my current favorite version of this song:

Perhaps I might borrow lyrics from both songs say this at the news of Captain McCain’s death:

“Bang the drum slow, and play the fife lowly for never more shall he see the sun.”

May all our combat veterans receive the honor and respect they deserve.



About Andrew Reynolds

Born in California Did the school thing studying electronics, computers, release engineering and literary criticism. I worked in the high tech world doing software release engineering and am now retired. Then I got prostate cancer. Now I am a blogger and work in my wood shop doing scroll saw work and marquetry.
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20 Responses to Play the Fife Lowly

  1. Amen! Senator McCain will be sorely missed as a voice of reason, moderation and compromise.

    And I LOVE the LW New Years Eve special when I was growing up! All those folks looked so elegant to my young eyes…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. CJ Hartwell says:

    Not everyone in Arizona agreed with McCain, but I think they all respected him. For Arizona, that’s something! (Marty Robbins was from Arizona too, his music always puts me in a nostalgic mood.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • I didn’t agree on many of his political positions, but I never doubted he was trying to do the right thing in the right way. When I think of the “West” Arizona and New Mexico always jump to my mind first.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Sue says:

    Beautifully written, Andrew. Music takes me back in time too. Life is bittersweet and filled with memories of days gone by. Thanks for sharing. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  4. George says:

    Wow…these take me back..:(

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Debra says:

    The words and music combine to be very meaningful when put into the context of McCain’s death. I don’t think we have many people who can stand up against his record of integrity and valor. I feel such sadness for his family in their loss. The music you’ve offered here definitely stirs some memories for me, too! Nice choice!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This fits well with my current obsession with Westerns. I think I’ll play this as I read today.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. timsablog says:

    Thanks for sharing. When I read that the WW1 lament was in Scottish with an English translation I thought it must have been in Gaelic rather than just a Scottish dialect. Good to hear the skirl of bagpipes.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Pied Type says:

    We desperately need more men like John McCain, but I fear he may have been the last of a rare breed.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. It’s interesting how the Past intertwines with the Present and more is revealed. This is a beautiful tribute to Senator McCain. He will be missed by those of us who look for politicians with a spine.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Ray V. says:

    I too, watch the re-runs. I used to watch the LWS with my grandmother, back in the 1960’s. There was also the Ted Mack Geritol Hour and The Galloping Gourmet, with Grahm Kerr. Good memories of a much simpler time.

    Liked by 2 people

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