A famous Russian composer re-arranged the Star-Spangled Banner - We Are The Mighty
MUSIC

A famous Russian composer re-arranged the Star-Spangled Banner

When Igor Stravinsky was born, it was the Russian Empire who had a “special relationship” with the United States, not Great Britain. By the time he emigrated to Switzerland, the Russian Empire was the Soviet Union and Stravinsky was a global nomad. The talented composer had a knack for arranging and re-arranging the national anthems of his adoptive countries. Russia, Switzerland, and France all had Stravinsky versions of their national anthems.

It was while living in the United States in 1941 that Stravinsky decided to make a contribution toward “fostering and preserving the spirit of patriotism” in America. He re-arranged the national anthem of the United States, most notably to make it easier to sing.


Stravinsky moved to the U.S. in 1939 at the outset of World War II. The U.S. didn’t adopt the Star-Spangled Banner as its official national anthem until 1931, just in time to give Stravinsky a new home and a new anthem to arrange. During both World Wars, orchestras were encouraged to play the song and audiences were encouraged to sing along. There could be stiff penalties for noncompliance — especially for foreigners.

A famous Russian composer re-arranged the Star-Spangled Banner
Stravinsky in 1903, age 21

But Stravinsky didn’t need to be pushed to play the anthem. He was more concerned about the structure of the anthem.

He opened his first show at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, Calif. in 1940 with the traditional, well-known version. This version was arranged by Walter Damrosch, a New York musician and composer. The problem with that version is in its harmonization, according to the Marine Corps Band at the time. But concerns about harmony were pushed aside and Damrosch’s version became the norm across the country.

But not for Stravinsky. He heard a number of re-harmonizations of the tune in his time and decided to arrange his own. He even wrote to President Roosevelt about his intentions in editing the music.

Mr. President:

Searching about for a vehicle through which I might best express my gratitude at the prospect of becoming an American Citizen, I chose to harmonize and orchestrate as a national chorale your beautiful sacred anthem the Star-Spangled Banner. It is a desire to do my bit in these grievous times toward fostering and preserving the spirit of patriotism in this country that inspires me to tender this my humble work to you as President of this Great Republic and to the American People. Believe me.

Faithfully yours,
Igor Stravinsky

Playing his arrangement in the Boston Symphony Hall at the height of World War II in 1944 was another story.

A famous Russian composer re-arranged the Star-Spangled Banner

Legend has it the Boston Police Department wasn’t thrilled with the changes to the national anthem and that the composer was breaking a Massachusetts law by “tampering with national property” and that he was to be arrested. Though the arrest never happened, the police did cite a state law about how the anthem should be played. The police misapplied the law, however. The law was made against using the Star-Spangled Banner “as dance music, as an exit march, or as a part of a medley of any kind.”

Instead of being fined or arrested, he simply removed the song from his set list.

Stravinsky would play his rearrangement for years after World War II ended, right up until his death in 1971. At his last show at the Hollywood Bowl in 1966, he closed with his version of the anthem, his own exit march. No one fined him.

Articles

Here’s how ‘Taps’ got its name

Everyone who has attended a military function or visited a base has heard the “Taps” melody fill the air.


Traditionally performed live on a bugle or trumpet, “Taps” is one of the more popular songs, and one that tends to quiet spectators as they solemnly bow their heads.

But few people know the history behind the song or the patriotic meaning behind the lyrics.

Related: This man honors the military by playing ‘Taps’ for his neighbors every day

A famous Russian composer re-arranged the Star-Spangled Banner
Chief Musician Guy L. Gregg, plays taps during a Memorial Day service at Brookwood American Cemetery.
(Photo by MC2 Jennifer L. Jaqua/Released)



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According to the VA, present-day “Taps” is believed to be a rendition of the French bugle signal, “Tap Toe” which stems from a Dutch word that means to shut or “tap” a keg. The most noted revision we know today was created by Union Gen. Daniel Butterfield during the American Civil War to alert soldiers to discontinue their drinking and remind them to return to garrison.

In July of 1862, Butterfield thought the original French version “L’Extinction des feux” was too formal and began to hum an adaption to his aide, who then transcribed the music to paper and assigned Oliver W. Norton, the brigade bugler, to play the notes written.

It wasn’t until 12 years later when Butterfield’s musical creation was made the Army’s officially bugle call. By 1891, the Army infantry regulated that “Taps” be played at all military funeral ceremonies moving forward.

Today, the historic song is played during flag ceremonies, military funerals, and at dusk as the sun lowers into the horizon during “lights out.”

Lyrics

Day is done, gone the sun,
From the lake, from the hills, from the sky;
All is well, safely rest, God is nigh.
Fading light, dims the sight,
And a star gems the sky, gleaming bright.
From afar, drawing nigh, falls the night.
Thanks and praise, for our days,
‘Neath the sun, ‘neath the stars, neath the sky;
As we go, this we know, God is nigh.
Sun has set, shadows come,
Time has fled, Scouts must go to their beds
Always true to the promise that they made.
While the light fades from sight,
And the stars gleaming rays softly send,
To thy hands we our souls, Lord, commend.

MUSIC

Calling All Military and Veteran Music Lovers!

We Are The Mighty (WATM) is looking for the next big recording artist from the military-veteran community.


Through Mission: Music, a nationwide search, contestants compete to win priceless experiences, including a chance to perform live in front of a stellar crowd at Base*FEST 2017 powered by USAA this Labor Day weekend and be mentored by an industry professional.

In addition, five finalists will be flown to Nashville for a professional video shoot at the iconic Ocean Way Nashville Recording Studios.

Active duty, veterans, and military family members who sing or play an instrument are eligible to submit to WATM’s Mission: Music.

Here’s how to enter:

Grab a camera, introduce yourself and your connection to the military, and tell us a little bit about how music has impacted your life. Then, perform your favorite song or include clips from past performances.

Upload your video to YouTube (it can be unlisted) and send the link to submissions@wearethemighty.com.

Deadline for submissions is Friday, June 30, 2017 at 11:59PM PST.

Send questions via Twitter to @wearethemighty or email us at info@wearethemighty.com.

Articles

9 of the most memorable pop songs from war movies

Nothing makes a war movie pop like its soundtrack. Films that are scored by famous composers stay with us forever. Hans Zimmer did “Black Hawk Down,” “Saving Private Ryan,” was scored by John Williams, and of course, the most famous war film score ever, Maurice Jarre’s work for the WWI epic “Lawrence of Arabia.”


But not every war movie needs to be scored. There are a few movies where a well-placed pop song is an epic use of screen time. When a director uses a “needle drop,” it can push the scene into something unforgettable.

1. “What A Wonderful World” from “Good Morning Vietnam”

In a movie full of great music and memorable scenes, how do you even choose the most poignant? Barry Levinson’s 1987 film juxtaposes Louis Armstrong’s classic song with imagery of the men fighting the war, the civilians caught in the middle, and the corruption of the South Vietnamese regime.

2. “Danger Zone” from “Top Gun”

No opening sequence starts a movie better than the song that keeps Kenny Loggins in the money to this day. The Navy even used this movie as recruiting tool, with a full 90 percent of applicants reporting that they’d seen “Top Gun” the year it came out.

3. “The End” from “Apocalypse Now”

Did I say “Top Gun” has the best opening scene song? It has to compete with the first shots of “Apocalypse Now,” featuring the Doors’ “The End”.

4. “Tracks of My Tears” from “Platoon”

Charlie Sheen gives us a stark vision of his future, jamming with his friends to Smokey Robinson and the Miracles’ 1965 hit, smoking all manner of things while knocking back a few beers. This scene is just as iconic as the Sgt. Elias death scene or the end of the movie, where Sheen’s character looks back on his tour.

5. “Surfin’ Bird” from “Full Metal Jacket”

Sure there are many great musical moments in Stanley Kubrick’s 1987 classic Vietnam War film. “Wooly Bully” by Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs playing when Joker and Rafterman meet Animal Mother is the start of something beautiful, not to mention the other iconic music scene that bridges the basic training and war sequences.

The Trashmen’s 1963 song “Surfin’ Bird” dominates as the Americans push the NVA back from Hué City.

6. “Do Wah Diddy” from “Stripes”

I think the YouTube commenter Brian Buchanan said it best about this scene from the Bill Murray and Harold Ramis comedy “Stripes” — “Funny scene, but these two morons would be doing push up ’til they died.”

7. “Dream Lover” from “Hot Shots”

Yeah, “Hot Shots” isn’t a real war movie in the sense that anything really happened but you can say that about “The Hurt Locker” too. Even so, I’ll never forget when Topper Harley sees Ramada Rodham Hayman for the first time.

“I was really impressed with the way you handled that stallion. You know, when I saw you dig your heels into his sides, tighten up the reigns, and break his spirit, I never wanted to be a horse so much in my life.”

8. “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin” from “Top Gun”

If this movie and Kenny Loggins prompted a bunch of people to join the Navy, I wonder how many late-80s women had to put up with guys singing to them in bars until the fall of Communism.

9. “Sgt. Mackenzie” from “We Were Soldiers”

While not technically a pop song, this song was written about the singer’s grandfather’s service in WWI and is undeniably awesome. Awesome. Awesome.

MIGHTY HISTORY

5 things you should know about ‘Anchors Aweigh’

Today’s U.S. Navy can trace its origins to the Continental Navy of the Revolutionary War. It boasts the largest, most capable fleet in history, proudly serving its mission of “…winning wars, deterring aggression, and maintaining freedom of the seas.” America’s sailors are the finest in the world, and their rousing song — born in victory — suits them well.


Also read: The complete hater’s guide to the US Navy


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Even if you can’t sing along, you’ve probably heard the familiar tune, but here are five things you might not know about “Anchors Aweigh:”

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1. It was written at the U.S. Naval Academy

Bandmaster Lt. Charles A. Zimmerman served as director of the U.S. Naval Academy Band from 1887 until his death in 1916, and he wrote a march for each graduating class. But it was “Anchors Aweigh” would be the one ultimately adopted by the U.S. Navy as its official song.

A famous Russian composer re-arranged the Star-Spangled Banner

The Navy Midshipmen take the field in the 2012 Army-Navy game.

U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Chad Runge)

2. It helped shut out the Army

By 1906, Navy had not beaten Army on the football field since 1900. Midshipman First Class Alfred Hart Miles approached Zimmerman with a request for a new march — one that would lift spirits and “live forever.” According to legend, Miles and Zimmerman got to work at the Academy’s chapel organ. Later that month, the band and brigade performed the song and the Navy swept the Army in a 10-0 victory.

A famous Russian composer re-arranged the Star-Spangled Banner

Sailors secure a line to the capstan while hoisting the anchor chain.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class David Finley)

3. It’s chock full of naval jargon, starting with the title

An anchor is “aweigh” when it is hoisted from the bottom, freeing the vessel. This event is duly noted in the ship’s log.

A famous Russian composer re-arranged the Star-Spangled Banner

Nimitz Carrier Strike Group conducts an underway.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Michael D. Cole)

4. It evolved over time

It wasn’t until 1997 that the lyrics were finally revised (by the 8th Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy, John Hagan) to be a little less college football and a little more domination of the high seas.

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5. It boasts ancient lore — like 2300 BC ancient

The revised lyrics include some naval lore, such as a reference to Davy Jones, whose locker on the ocean floor is home to drowned sailors and shipwrecks, and the “seven seas,” an ancient phrase for all the world’s oceans.

Here are the proud lyrics (both original and revised):

Original Lyrics

[Verse 1]

Stand Navy down the field, sails set to the sky.

We’ll never change our course, so Army you steer shy-y-y-y.

Roll up the score, Navy, Anchors Aweigh.

Sail Navy down the field and sink the Army, sink the Army Grey.

[Verse 2]

Get underway, Navy, Decks cleared for the fray,

We’ll hoist true Navy Blue So Army down your Grey-y-y-y.

Full speed ahead, Navy; Army heave to,

Furl Black and Grey and Gold and hoist the Navy, hoist the Navy Blue

[Verse 3]

Blue of the Seven Seas; Gold of God’s great sun

Let these our colors be Till all of time be done-n-n-ne,

By Severn shore we learn Navy’s stern call:

Faith, courage, service true With honor over, honor over all.

Revised Lyrics

(It is verse 2 that is most widely sung)

[Verse 1]

Stand Navy out to sea,

Fight our battle cry;

We’ll never change our course,

So vicious foe steer shy-y-y-y.

Roll out the TNT,

Anchors Aweigh.

Sail on to victory

And sink their bones to Davy Jones, hooray!

[Verse 2]

Anchors Aweigh, my boys,

Anchors Aweigh.

Farewell to foreign shores,

We sail at break of day-ay-ay-ay.

Through our last night ashore,

Drink to the foam,

Until we meet once more.

Here’s wishing you a happy voyage home.

[Verse 3]

Blue of the mighty deep:

Gold of God’s great sun.

Let these our colors be

Till all of time be done, done, done, done.

On seven seas we learn

Navy’s stern call:

Faith, courage, service true,

With honor, over honor, over all.

Articles

Why Johnny Cash was the first Westerner to learn Stalin was dead

While he’s more famous for being “The Man In Black,” Johnny Cash served in the U.S. Air Force during the Cold War and was the first man outside of the Soviet Union to learn of Premier Joseph Stalin’s death.


Cash was born J.R. Cash and was raised in a hardscrabble family in Arkansas. He was forced to begin working at the age of 5 and he began playing and writing his own songs at the age of 12 after one of his brothers was killed in a farming accident.

A famous Russian composer re-arranged the Star-Spangled Banner
(Photo: U.S. Navy Photographer’s Mate 1st Class Gary Rice)

At the age of 18 in 1950, J.R. Cash joined the Air Force and was forced to change his name to John. He rose through the ranks and served as a Morse code operator. He spent much of his time quickly decoding communications between Soviet officials.

On March 3, 1953, he was a staff sergeant manning his post in Landsberg, Germany, when a surprising message beeped into his ears. Soviet Premier Josef Stalin, who had suffered from ill health for years, had died.

A famous Russian composer re-arranged the Star-Spangled Banner
(Photo: U.S. Navy Photographer’s Mate 1st Class Gary Rice)

The leader of Russia had suffered a massive heart attack that day and died quickly.

The Man In Black passed the message up the chain and returned to work. Cash’s job already required that he have limited off-post privileges and contact with locals. Still, he couldn’t discuss what happened with even his close friends.

The rest of the world would soon learn of Stalin’s death and the ascent of Georgy Malenkov.

A famous Russian composer re-arranged the Star-Spangled Banner
Johnny Cash as a newly signed musician at Sun Records in 1955. (Photo: Sun Records. Public Domain)

Cash, meanwhile, would leave the service honorably just over a year later and return to Texas where he had trained. He married his first wife the same year and signed with Sun Records in 1955.

He played the Grand Ole Opry stage for the first time the same year.

Over the following 48 years, Cash wrote thousands of songs and released dozens of albums before his death in September 2003 at the age of 71.

Military Life

5 reasons why the deployment guitarist is so phenomenal

There’s always at least one person in every deployed unit who brings their guitar with them. Sometimes it’s because they want to learn how to play and decide their down time as the perfect opportunity to practice. Sometimes they just can’t part with their baby for 12 months.


Either way, you’ll find them hanging around the smoke shack playing for the masses. If they’re at the point where they’re willing to play for their squad in between missions, they’re probably pretty good at it. Here’s why:

A famous Russian composer re-arranged the Star-Spangled Banner

If you start playing, others will stop what they’re doing — giving you even more free time. Just saying.

(Photo by Sgt. Eddie Siguenza)

They’ve got plenty of time to practice.

Contrary to popular belief, there actually is down time on a deployment. Which unit you’re serving in will determine how much time that is, but everyone can at least have a moment to breathe.

If the guitarist brought an acoustic guitar, they can play it whenever and wherever they feel like it.

A famous Russian composer re-arranged the Star-Spangled Banner

But thankfully they’ll stop caring before the guitar solo comes up.

(Photo by Pfc. Nathan Goodall

They learn to take requests.

There’s a handful of songs everyone who first picks up a guitar has to learn how to play. Iron Man, Smoke on the Water, Seven Nation Army, and eventually Stairway to Heaven. They’re kind of ‘rite of passage’ songs.

But not everyone on the deployment gets that and everyone will always request Free Bird.

A famous Russian composer re-arranged the Star-Spangled Banner

It’s always a great time when other musicians get together.

(Photo by Sgt. Eddie Siguenza)

They play all genres.

When you first pick up a guitar, you’ll play what you know and play what you like. But the deployment guitarist, after taking requests from everyone, learns to play all sorts of genres of music. Especially if they find other gifted musicians or singers in the unit.

Rock guys learn to play gospel. Country guys learn to play pop. And everything in between. As long as you’ve got someone to play with, you’ll learn their style too.

A famous Russian composer re-arranged the Star-Spangled Banner

And I’m just saying, from personal experience, it’s also very common in the aid station since the guitarist is often times a corpsman or medic.

(Photo by Cpl. Alfred V. Lopez)

They’ll play to the battalion or just a handful of smokers.

An odd thing happens when command teams find artists in their unit. They’ll single them out and voluntell them to share their art with the unit. Normally, this never bothers them because they just love playing.

But more often than not, they’re usually in the smoke pit — just strumming away at whatever comes to mind.

A famous Russian composer re-arranged the Star-Spangled Banner

If they brought an electric guitar, oh yeah…they have passion.

(Photo by Staff Sgt. Samuel Morse)

They really do have the passion in their art.

A good guitar isn’t cheap. A beginner’s guitar can run you around 0 but the ones our semi-pros play on are up in the 0-00 range.

If they’re willing to risk losing that money by having their guitar get damaged though out a deployment, play in front of their brothers-in-arms, risk ridicule if they suck, and still get out there and perform — they’ve got as much passion as any recording artist out there.

MIGHTY CULTURE

How to get your own free ‘Space Force’ ringtone

If you’re in the military or are a veteran and haven’t heard about the Space Force yet, it’s time to climb out from under that rock you’ve been living in. There’s a sixth branch of the U.S. military now, and it’s going to be a department of the Air Force.

A famous Russian composer re-arranged the Star-Spangled Banner
The men’s department.

Although the Air Force has released very limited guidance on what the new branch will do, how it will roll out, or basically anything at all except that it’s called the ‘Space Force’ and will exist one day, the excitement the idea of a space force brings the military community is palpable.

A famous Russian composer re-arranged the Star-Spangled Banner
Judged solely by the sheer volume of Space Force memes.

Also Read: 5 boring details a Space Force private will get stuck on

So if you’re excited to do your part, you can fully engulf yourself in the burgeoning Space Force culture, you can now enjoy the first Space Force song, sure to be shouted at the top of many a Spaceman’s lungs every morning during Space-ic Training.

This songified version of President Trump’s Space Force announcement was created by The Gregory Brothers, whose YouTube page is packed with pop culture songification. Due to the popular demand for the song to be made into a ringtone via the popular Air Force Facebook page Air Force amn/nco/snco, the Gregory Brothers responded immediately.

A famous Russian composer re-arranged the Star-Spangled Banner
Thanks Air Force amn/nco/snco.

Check out: Why the name of the space-based branch should be Space Corps

Good luck getting this song out of your head now that it goes off every time your mom or dad calls you. You can get your free Space Force ringtone from The Gregory Brothers at their Patreon page.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Vote for MISSION: MUSIC Finalist Home Bru

UPDATE: THE VOTING IS NOW CLOSED AND THE WINNER WILL BE ANNOUNCED ON MONDAY, SEPT. 25, 2017 AT WE ARE THE MIGHTY!

Welcome to the finals for Mission: Music, where veterans from all five branches compete for a chance to perform onstage at Base*FEST powered by USAA. CLICK THE BUTTON BELOW TO VOTE every day to determine the winner!

Home Bru is a North Carolina based band comprised of husband-and-wife Matt Brunoehler (guitar/banjo/vocals) and Chelsea Brunoehler (bass/vocalist), and whenever possible, drummer/vocalist Zac Bowers and pianist Wryan Webb.


A famous Russian composer re-arranged the Star-Spangled Banner
From left to right: Matthew Brunoehler (USMC), Chelsea Brunoehler (USN, USCG)

Matt and Chelsea started singing together in the U.S. Naval Academy Glee Club in 2003, and they have started bands everywhere they’ve been stationed ever since (even when they were separated!). In February 2016, they started Home Bru in North Carolina, and the band has been featured at various local events since. They primarily concentrate on covers of favorite Rock, Country, Pop, and Blues tunes, but they’ve recently been adding originals to their repertoire.

“Music tells our story,” says Chelsea. “Forming a band in each city we’ve lived has introduced us to our closest friends—our military family. We are fortunate to share music as a couple. It keeps us connected, even when separated by military obligations.”

Return to the voting page and check out the other finalists!

For every vote, USAA will donate $1 (up to $10k) to Guitars for Vets, a non-profit organization that enhances lives of ailing and injured military veterans by providing them with guitars and a forum to learn how to play. Your votes help those who served rediscover their joy through the power of music!

A famous Russian composer re-arranged the Star-Spangled Banner
Articles

Navy vet Sturgill Simpson’s country music breakthrough

A famous Russian composer re-arranged the Star-Spangled Banner
Atlantic Records


On his fantastic new album A Sailor’s Guide to Earth, Sturgill Simpson uses life at sea to inspire songs about separation from family and a longing for home. Simpson himself grew up in Kentucky and claims he joined the Navy on a whim when driving past a recruiting station.

After three years which included service in Japan and Southeast Asia, he left the service. “I wasn’t very good at taking orders,” he told Garden and Gun in 2014.

After he came home and started a music career, it turned out he wasn’t very good at taking orders from Nashville, either. Simpson wasn’t cut out for the kind of trucks-and-beer pop country that’s dominated the charts over the last decade and made his name on independently-released albums. He had a breakthrough with 2014’s Metamodern Sounds in Country Music, produced by Dave Cobb (who’s made a name for himself producing fellow Nashville rebels Chris Stapleton and Jason Isbell).

Atlantic Records signed Simpson and gave him total freedom to make Sailor’s Guide, which he produced himself. What he made is a compact album (39 minutes, just like the old days!) that combines ’70s Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson with Stax Records-style horns, Al Green keyboard grooves and a Elvis in Memphis vibe.

On the track “Sea Stories,” he talks about joining the Navy:

Basically it’s just like papaw says:

“Keep your mouth shut and you’ll be fine”

Just another enlisted egg

In the bowl for Uncle Sam’s beater

When you get to Dam Neck

Hear a voice in your head

Saying, “my life’s no longer mine”

He also includes a cover of Nirvana’s “In Bloom,” where he adds a new lyric. After the line “You don’t know what it means” (where there’s a howling guitar squall on the original version), Simpson sings “to love someone,” a line he says he imagined was there for years after he first heard the Nirvana version. Fans of the BeeGees (and the innumerable soul covers of the song) will appreciate the “To Love Someone” reference.

There’s zero Autotune on the vocals, so this kind of gritty, soulful music may sound a bit weird to fans of Little Big Town or Florida-Georgia Line. None of the songs sound like truck commercials, so you’re probably not going to hear this music on commercial country radio. If Chris Stapleton got your attention last year, though, Simpson’s album is a logical next step into the world of traditional country.

The album’s for sale in all the digital music stores, CDs are really cheap at Amazon and you can stream it on Spotify or Apple Music before you buy. Check out the first two videos from the album below.

Sturgill’s daring cover of Nirvana’s “In Bloom” 
The album’s first single is “Brace for Impact (Live a Little)”     
A famous Russian composer re-arranged the Star-Spangled Banner
MIGHTY TRENDING

5 reasons Kris Kristofferson is the most interesting man in the world

Dos Equis’ old ads featuring “The Most Interesting Man in the World” were supposed to be hilarious and ridiculous at the same time. But it left many thinking of people they knew who really might fit that man’s mold. I would like to submit the argument in favor of 81-year-old Army veteran, actor, and musician Kris Kristofferson.


You might know him from his acting work – most recently portraying the most hardcore President of all time, Andrew Jackson, on the History Channel miniseries Texas Rising. Or maybe you know him as “Whistler” from the Blade movies. Older folks know him as the songwriter behind Janis Joplin’s “Me and Bobby McGee” and as a country music performer in his own right. In 2003, he was presented with the “Veteran of the Year” Award at the 8th Annual American Veterans Awards.

While his father wanted him to continue the family’s military tradition, even he would have to admit that Kris has a pretty great resume. But there are a lot of music stars turned movie stars. It’s what he did before achieving stardom that makes him The Most Interesting Man in the World.

A famous Russian composer re-arranged the Star-Spangled Banner

He was a Golden Gloves boxer.

The Golden Gloves meant that Kristofferson was a talented amateur boxer. But to add to his tough-as-nails persona, he also was skilled at rugby and track, and was even featured in Sports Illustrated for his natural talent playing American football.

A famous Russian composer re-arranged the Star-Spangled Banner

He had two hobbies that just let him punch people in the face.

He was a Rhodes Scholar.

While studying literature at Pomona College in California, he was selected for a Rhodes scholarship to study literature at Merton College. While there, he continued boxing, performing at the highest levels. Remember: there’s no shame in getting knocked out by Kris Kristofferson. It doesn’t matter if he’s 18-years-old or 81-years-old.

A famous Russian composer re-arranged the Star-Spangled Banner

Kristofferson goes Airborne.

He earned a Ranger tab.

The younger Kristofferson was the son of an Army Air Forces officer who went into the service himself as an officer. He was a helicopter pilot who also finished Ranger training and Airborne school. He opted to get out of the Army in lieu of taking an assignment to teach at West Point.

A famous Russian composer re-arranged the Star-Spangled Banner

He moonlighted as a janitor… while working on oil rigs.

Kristofferson would sit on oil rigs, flying workers around in Louisiana one week. Then the next week he would moonlight as a janitor in Nashville recording studios so he could drop demo tapes on unsuspecting country music artists like June and Johnny Cash.

In one interview, he recommended having patience if you’re pursuing a career as an artist. Sweeping floors at age 30 might not seem glamorous for a former Army Ranger officer, but ask Kris Kristofferson if it was worth it.

A famous Russian composer re-arranged the Star-Spangled Banner

What you think you look like holding a rifle.

He landed a helicopter on Johnny Cash’s lawn.

The oft-told tale is true: Kristofferson really did land a helicopter on the Man in Black’s lawn. He was trying to get Cash’s attention so Cash would give that demo a listen. What isn’t true is that Kristofferson wasn’t actually drinking a beer at the time… and Cash wasn’t even home.

Unfortunately his boozing is what led to him no longer working the controls of helicopters.

A famous Russian composer re-arranged the Star-Spangled Banner

All that and he fought forest fires.

One of Kristofferson’s most often-offered pieces of advice is writing from your own experience. As if football, rugby, being an Airborne Ranger, and working on oil rigs weren’t manly enough, he also worked in construction and fought wild fires in Alaska.

Because of course he did.

Articles

This vet taught himself to play the piano in Saddam Hussein’s bombed out palace

In December 2003, Michael Trotter, Jr. was a soldier stationed in Baghdad, Iraq. His unit was camped out in one of Saddam Hussein’s bombed-out palaces when his commanding officer discovered a piano and suggested Trotter, who enjoyed singing, check it out.


“You had to crawl over soot and rut and rock and rubble from the war to get to this piano; it was like one of those dramatic movie scenes,” Trotter told Real Clear Life.

It’s common for troops to play the easier-to-transport guitar while deployed, but not many get the chance to tickle the ivory. Trotter didn’t know how to play piano, but he began to teach himself. Music became an outlet and an escape from the stress of combat.

When his friend, Army Captain Robert C. Scheetz, Jr., was killed by an IED, Trotter wrote a song called “Dear Martha,” which he then performed at Scheetz’s memorial service. Trotter would go on to sing at many more memorials, providing solace for those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

“Dear Martha” is about the letters written between loved ones divided by war. Trotter recorded the song with his wife, Tanya Blount, as part of their musical duo, The War and Treaty, which explores the concept of creating music out of darkness and despair to find peace, tranquility, and a higher purpose.

While this video doesn’t include any visuals, you can hear their tranquil notes and haunting harmonies by clicking play below — and you really, really should:

(The War and Treaty | YouTube)
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