|We fired our guns and the British
kept a coming
There wasn't nigh as many as there was a while ago.
We fired once more and they began to runnning
Down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico!
Chorus from "The Battle of New Orleans" by Jimmy Driftwood, voted during the 1980s one of the 10 most popular American songs of all time.
Driftwood, the legendary award-winning folk musician, songwriter, teacher,
folklorist, and original Grand Ole Opry member from Timbo,
Arkansas, passed away on July 12, 1998, at the age of 91, in a hospital in
Fayetteville, Arkansas. He had been hospitalized for several weeks after an extended
illness. He is survived by his loving wife, Cleda Driftwood and a
brother and two sisters.
Jimmy was a prolific songwriter who composed over 6000 songs during his career, and over 300 of those were recorded and/or published. His best known songs included "The Battle of New Orleans" (made famous in 1959 by Johnny Horton and voted during the 1980s as one of America's best loved songs of all time), "The Tennessee Stud" (made famous by Eddy Arnold, Doc Watson and others), "Down in the Arkansas", and "He Had a Long Chain On" (made famous by Odetta). He was the winner of two Grammy Awards for his music, and in the early 1960s, Jimmy was awarded an Honorary Doctorate Degree in Folklore from Peabody University in Nashville.
Jimmy was known and loved by thousands around the world. He and his wife Cleda welcomed and entertained literally hundreds of visitors each year in their ranch home in Timbo, Arkansas (12 miles west of Mountain View, Arkansas). Jimmy got his start as a high school teacher, and used his songs to help teach his classes. The song, "The Battle of New Orleans", was written 18 years before it became famous, in order to help Jimmy explain to his high school history students that the Battle of New Orleans was fought during the War of 1812 instead of during the Revolutionary War. After he achieved fame as a noted songwriter and performer, Jimmy used his influence to help the rest of America and the world discover the wonder and beauty of Arkansas Folk Culture, particularly in the areas of folk music and folk story telling, and to help preserve the environment. During the 1950s and 1960s, he helped preserve the Buffalo River in northern Arkansas from damming, and helped have it declared a National River, to be preserved for its natural beauty. In the 1970s, Jimmy founded the Rackensack Folklore Society in Mountain View and then was instrumental in getting the funds appropriated to build the Ozark Folk Center in Mountain View, Arkansas, and later in the early 1980s, Jimmy and his friends built the Jimmy Driftwood Barn and Folklore Hall of Fame also in Mountain View. Semi-weekly folk music performances are held at the Barn (Fridays and Sundays), where many of Jimmy's songs are still joyfully performed by his friends and fans on stage there.
Jimmy was loved and respected by friends, fans, and fellow musicians from around the world, and he will be sorely missed. The funeral was Wednesday, July 15, 1998 at the Ozark Folk Center. A near-capacity crowd came to say their farewells to the "Bard of the Ozarks". The family requested that in lieu of flowers, that donations be given to charities which support research for the control and eventual eradication of Alzheimer's Disease.
Contact the Jimmy Driftwood Barn (870-269-8042) on Friday nights or Sunday nights for additional information or to purchase music from the Barn's Gift Shop.
Written by Bill Slater, a personal friend of the Driftwood family.
What They Wrote in Jimmy's GuestBook
Total: 5 guests
Created July 12, 1998
Updated on March 27, 2013
Bill Slater, Webmaster