John Brown, Set to Music

"John Brown Going to His Hanging" by Horace Pippin (1942)
A new podcast from the outgoing BackStory producer Rachel Quimby looks at the surprising origins of the song “John Brown’s Body.”

150 years ago this October, the terrorist/hero John Brown raided the armory at Harpers Ferry, Virginia. By December 1859, his body lay a-moulderin’ in the grave, a fact quickly memorialized in the famous ditty known as “John Brown’s Body.” Most people today know the song, but what has been lost to history is that it wasn’t really about John Brown — at least not the famous one. BackStory producer Rachel Quimby tells the real story of “John Brown’s Body.”

The eight minutes are worth your time, but not because yours truly can be heard crooning in the background. In the meantime, farewell and best of luck to Rachel!
IN ADDITION: EV entries on John Brown and Harpers Ferry . . .
IMAGE: John Brown Going to His Hanging by Horace Pippin (1942). According to this source, “Pippin was a native of Pennsylvania and lived there most of his life. He fought in the 369th Infantry Regiment in World War I. A wound immobilized his right arm, but despite this fact he taught himself to paint. He burned images in wood with a hot poker, and then painted them with oils. This print is based on his mother’s description of the scene.”


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