Recorded in the summer of 1976 in Woodstock, NY Fifty Sail on Newburgh Bay: Hudson Valley Songs Old & New was released in October of that year. Designed to be a booster for the replica sloop Clearwater, as well as to tap into the national interest in history thanks to the bicentennial, the album includes a mixture of traditional songs and newly songs, with lyrics largely composed by William Gekle.
"The Burning of Kingston," lyrics by William Gekle and music by Pete Seeger, recounts a true event, the burning of Kingston, NY by British forces on October 16, 1777. To learn more about the Burning of Kingston, check out "Terror on the Hudson: The Burning of Kingston," from the New York Almanack.
"Burning of Kingston" Lyrics
(Words by Bill Gekle, music by Pete Seeger)
Autumn burned in the Ulster Hills,
Before the British came,
The elms and maples smoldered there
The oaks were yellow flame.
The fields were empty, barns were full,
Wrapped in October haze,
While British ships up-river sailed,
All through the golden days.
As in a dream, the white-sailed ships
Past the lowlands glide,
All quiet now, as if in peace,
Northward on the tide.
Two thousand men aboard the ships
Gaze at the golden shore,
They dream of making homes and farms
Instead of making war.
This was a land they could have loved
And shared its homes and farms,
This was a land they could have had
Without resource to arms.
But Kingston was burned in the Ulster Hills,
Every house but one,
And it burned in the hearts of Ulster men,
Until the war was won.
Thanks to HRMM volunteer Mark Heller for sharing his knowledge of Hudson River music history for this series.
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