Friday, January 20, 2017

Yorktown Fifes and Drums – "The World Turned Upside Down" (2013)


If ponies rode men and if grass ate the cows
And cats should be chased into holes by the mouse
If summer were spring and the other way round
Then all the world would be upside down

Those lyrics are très à propos for today . . . n’est-ce pas?

Tradition has it that when Lord Cornwallis, the commander of the British forces at Yorktown, Virginia, surrendered to George Washington in October 1781, the British band played an old ballad titled “The World Turned Upside Down” as the British troops marched out of their fortifications and laid down their muskets.

Cornwallis surrenders at Yorktown
There’s a good chance that tradition is a bunch of hokum.  For one thing, there are no contemporary accounts of the surrender that mention “The World Turned Upside Down.”  Click here to read an article that examines whether “The World Turned Upside Down” was actually played at Yorktown.

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Historians may question whether British musicians performed “The World Turned Upside Down” as Lord Cornwallis’s army surrendered.  But no one questions that the song would have been a most appropriate choice, given that Washington’s victory at Yorktown was a killing blow to British efforts to hold on to their American colonies.  


Donald Trump’s victory last November was almost as unthinkable as the victory of the colonists over the most powerful empire in the world.

Lord North, the British prime minister, reportedly said “Oh God, it’s all over!” when he was informed of Cornwallis’s capitulation at Yorktown.  Hillary Clinton must have said something very similar when the networks called Pennsylvania for Trump, giving him an unsurmountable lead in electoral votes.


Almost 91% of the voters living in Your Nation’s Capital – a/k/a Washington, DC – cast their ballots for Clinton.  Trump received barely 4% of the votes.  (The remaining 5% went to third-party and write-in candidates.)

The results were almost as one-sided in the Maryland and Virginia suburbs of Washington.  That means a lot of my friends, neighbors, and co-workers woke up this morning singing along with the Walker Brothers:

The sun ain’t gonna shine any more
The moon ain’t gonna rise in the sky


Just take a deep breath, boys and girls . . . you’ll be fine.  If I survived the Red Sox coming back from a three-games-to-none deficit to beat the Yankees in the 2004 ALCS, you’ll survive four years of President Donald John Trump.  (Eight years may be a different story, of course.)

Here’s “The World Turned Upside Down” as performed by the Yorktown Fifes and Drums, a group of some 85 boys and girls between the ages of 10 and 18 who perform regularly at the Yorktown battlefield:



Click below to buy "The World Turned Upside Down" from Amazon:

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