Army returns to original song
June 13, 2013
FORT SILL, Okla. (June 13, 2013) -- What's the Army band playing? That's not the Army Song.
Effective May 8, All Army Activities message 124/2013 went into effect; it stated: "[The Army Song] will begin with a short introduction, then the verse, followed by the chorus and then the refrain."
The change, approved by Gen. Ray Odierno, Army chief of staff, is actually a return to the original version and lyrics of the official Army Song. Veterans from as late as the 1980s should recall learning the original version in basic training. This music arrangement is only part of the history of the Army Song.
While stationed in the Philippines in 1908, 1st Lt. Edmund Gruber, a field artilleryman, wrote the original melody. Gruber named it the "Caisson Song," with the original lyrics reflecting routine activities of a horse-drawn field artillery battery.
Then, in 1917 John Philip Sousa subsequently transformed the song into a march and renamed it "The Field Artillery Song."In 1948, the Army held a contest for an official song, but none were accepted. Then, in 1952, the Army asked the music industry to submit songs and received 800 entries. By Jan. 20, 1953, The Army Band performed the winning song, "The Army's Always There," by Sam Stept for President Dwight Eisenhower's inaugural parade.
However, this song did not last long because many who heard it thought it sounded too much like "I've Got a Lovely Bunch of Cocoanuts," a song both Merv Griffin and Danny Kaye got a lot of mileage singing.
The Army decided to keep the melody of "The Caisson Song," but with new lyrics submitted by Harold Arberg. On Nov. 11, 1956, Wilber Brucker, secretary of the Army, dedicated "The Army Goes Rolling Along" as the official song of the U.S. Army on Veterans Day. Then, about 20-to-25-years ago, Army bands began playing a shorter version of "The Army Song" for brevity in reviews and parades.
"General Odierno believes strongly in the importance of inspiring Soldiers, and he found the words of the verse to really express what he felt about the Army. He heard The Army Chorus singing the verse and wanted all Soldiers to know those stirring words. General Odierno is very focused on the power of live music to influence and inspire. He is constantly looking at ways to enhance ceremonies and other events with music," said Col. Thomas Palmatier, "Pershing's Own" band commander.
The music arrangement is different from the original written by Sousa. First off, the introduction is new along with the herald trumpet motives and flourishing woodwind lines that add life to the verse, chorus and refrain. The second thing the audience will notice is it is in a lower key. This way more audience members will be encouraged to sing our song.
Here are the complete lyrics:
March along, sing our song,
With the Army of the free.
Count the brave, count the true
Who have fought to victory.
We're the Army and proud of our name!
We're the Army and proudly proclaim:
First to fight for the right,
And to build the nation's might,
And the Army goes rolling along.
Proud of all we have done,
Fighting till the battle's won,
And the Army goes rolling along.
Then it's Hi! Hi! Hey!
The Army's on its way.
Count off the cadence loud and strong;
For where'er we go,
You will always know
That the Army goes rolling along.