American Drive Releases adaptation of Abraham Lincoln Favorite

american_driveDuring the past three years there have been many commemorations of the War between the States, noting its 150th anniversary, and these have come in various formats.

Among the latest is the May 6 release by American Drive of the Rural Rhythm Records single, For The Dear Old Flag, I Die. Written in 1863 as a poem by George Cooper and put to music by Stephen Foster, the song was among Abraham Lincoln’s favorite romantic ballads.

Told from the Union side, the song imagines the last words of a brave young drummer boy who was fatally wounded during the Battle of Gettysburg in July 1863.

American Drive’s Dwight McCall explains how the release came about …. .

“I ran across this song and thought that it was kind of slow… I had a melody that was really different than what I was hearing from the words. So I sat down and put the words to this new melody and it just rolled into what you hear on the new single. I loved the words and the story it’s telling.”


The lyrics of For The Dear Old Flag, I Die as found in the Mel Bay book Ballads and Songs of the Civil War are as follows …

For the dear old Flag I die,
Said the wounded drummer boy;
Mother, press your lips to mine;
O, they bring me peace and joy!
‘Tis the last time on earth
I shall ever see your face
Mother take me to your heart,
Let me die in your embrace.

For the dear old Flag I die,
Mother, dry your weeping eye;
For the honor of our land
And the dear old Flag I die,

Do not mourn, my mother, dear,
Every pang will soon be o’er;
For I hear the angel band
Calling from their starry shore;
Now I see their banners wave
In the light of perfect day,
though ’tis hard to part with you,
Yet I would not wish to stay.


Farewell mother, Death’s cold hand
Weighs upon my spirit now,
And I feel his blighting breath
Fan my pallid cheek and brow.
Closer! closer! to your heart,
Let me feel that you are by,
While my sight is growing dim,
For the dear old Flag I die.

The single was produced by American Drive band members Dwight McCall (mandolin, lead vocals and tenor vocals), Matt DeSpain (Dobro, lead vocals on the chorus), Adam McIntosh (guitar, baritone vocals), Shane Bartley (banjo) and Kyle Perkins (bass).

The single will be available to the radio community on May 6 through AirPlay Direct. Also it will be included on the upcoming Fresh Cuts & Key Tracks, (No. 1 – 2014) Radio CD mailing out to radio stations in the second week of May.

For The Dear Old Flag, I Die will be included on American Drive’s sophomore CD, scheduled for release in the Fall.

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About the Author

Richard Thompson

Richard F. Thompson is a long-standing free-lance writer specialising in bluegrass music topics. A two-time Editor of British Bluegrass News, he has been seriously interested in bluegrass music since about 1970. As well as contributing to that magazine, he has, in the past 30 plus years, had articles published by Country Music World, International Country Music News, Country Music People, Bluegrass Unlimited, MoonShiner (the Japanese bluegrass music journal) and Bluegrass Europe. He wrote the annotated series I'm On My Way Back To Old Kentucky, a daily memorial to Bill Monroe that culminated with an acknowledgement of what would have been his 100th birthday, on September 13, 2011.