Tune of the Day: Yankee Doodle
This is an old song, one that has survived the test of time — roughly five centuries and many major wars, inclusive of the two World Wars. Strangely enough, despite the fact that the popularization of “Yankee Doodle” took place in America, the song in fact originated from Europe. It is said that its history can be traced back to 15th-century Holland, where it was a harvesting song. At the same time, the tune was used with a nursery rhyme called “Lucy Locket” in England.
In America the song surfaced during the French and Indian War that broke out in 1689, when the colonials joined forces with General Braddock at Niagara. The colonials were a motley crew, wearing furs and buckskins. British surgeon Richard Schuckburg during that war reportedly substituted new lyrics for the song, introducing the word ‛Yankee’, making fun of the Americans fighting alongside the British troops.
When the Revolutionary Wars broke out in 1775, the Brigadier General Hugh Percy's troops marched from Boston playing “Yankee Doodle” to reinforce the British soldiers already in battle with the Americans at Lexington and Concord. Ironically, this was the war that gave America its independence from the British. Even more ironically, the New England colonists not only came to dismiss it as an insult, but came to take pride in being called Yankees, and appropriated the song as their anthem of defiance and liberty.