As the authors of American Public House Review take a few days to share some personal observations about the Civil War, it is only fitting that we also take the time to honor the memory of singer/songwriter Jack Hardy who passed away on March 11th of this year. Jack was a good friend who always generously gave of his time and boundless talent. We were privileged to have had the opportunity to include some his work in our online publication. Especially, The 111th Pennsylvane, which, as I stated in an earlier post, is certainly one of the very best historical ballads ever written!
When Jack wasn’t mentoring some struggling folk artist at his apartment in Greenwich Village, there was a very good possibility he might be raising a pint at some pub in Ireland, or enjoying a glass of homemade wine at his second home in the Catskill region of upstate New York. Interestingly, not far from this location another celebrated musician had crafted a hauntingly beautiful tune that would become forever associated with the war between the North and South.
In 1982, Jay Ungar composed “Ashokan Farewell,” a waltz melody that would later be used as the theme for the 1990 Ken Burns PBS documentary, The Civil War. The piece is played 25 times during the eleven hours of film, and is used most notably during the reading of Sullivan Ballou’s letter to his wife in episode one.
“Ashokan Farewell” is a song about sad goodbyes–a lamenting strain that mourns the passing of time, the passing of friends, and the passing of a way of life. It is the perfect piece of music to help us remember that great struggle that set brother against brother. And it is also the perfect piece of music to help us remember the life of one who was a true friend and brother to America’s musical community–Jack Hardy.
Posted by: Chris Poh