Mudcat Café message #1818221 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #68519   Message #1818221
Posted By: GUEST,A Michigan Ranger
24-Aug-06 - 06:58 PM
Thread Name: Ranger Fight song
Subject: RE: Ranger Fight song
OK, I've kept an eye on this forum for a couple years without stepping in, but now I have to say something. Joey Hall did NOT write or coauthor the Ranger Fight Song. I know, because I was there when Joey learned it...

The first verse ("Murder...") and chorus, and perhaps segments of the other verses, were written during the American Rev. War Bicentennial in 1975 by a Rogers' Ranger from Michigan (not me) and some others. It was around the time of the reenactment of Bunker Hill and of Arnold's March to Quebec. I've never heard of Sam Hilt, but he may very well have been in on it. Over the next few months the Michigan Ranger polished the two verses ("With torch and sword...." and "Ye who would follow...") often considered "standard". There may have been other collaborators, but I have a handwritten version of the song given to me by the Michigan Ranger about 1978, and it is basically the same as the version that appears here. The other verses (about cannibalism, etc.) may have evolved on the East Coast. I suspect they did. I'm pretty sure that one or more of the initial authors was a British Light Infantryman, so the involvement of the 64th Lights is very possible.

Some things to consider: This is the "Ranger" fight song, so it stands to reason that at least one Ranger was involved in its creation. In the original version, there is a reference to "mixing rum with holy waters"- obviously a slam at Catholics. There's little evidence of British Light Infantry, especially of the Revolutionary War era, defiling Catholic churches (probably because the French Canadians were their allies). But Rogers' Rangers of the French and Indian War period are a different story. They looted the parish church at St. Francis/Odanak, and took the sacred vessels and a silver statue of the Virgin Mary. That line of the "Ranger Fight Song" is almost certainly a reference to the St. Francis Raid.

It was at Meadowcroft Village in Avella, PA in 1978 or '79 that Joey Hall first heard the song, sung by the Michigan Ranger/co-author and others who learned it from him. Joey was very taken with it, and added to his repretoire (which consisted at that time largely of Hank Williams, Jr. type honkey-tonk music). As Joey moved more to doing Celtic music and contemporary folk, especially after the formation of Father, Son, and Friends with his son Sean (who also was at Meadowcroft, I think, serving as a color-bearer for Dave Barry's Ranger Company from OH), he did the song more and more. Some people came to think it was Joey's creation, but it wasn't.

There have been additional verses, alternate versions (including a "Rangerette Fight Song" that my wife helped compose...), and other exmples of the true folk tradition as this song has evolved over time. Doubtless this will continue.