Usually I post gospel music. Or someone’s request. Under the Double Eagle is just for fun, and just because it’s a great piece of music that’s a blast to play. I learned this from my uncle, but aside from his influence, if I had to associate one name with it, I’d pick Roy Clark. The man was a multi-talented genius with any number of instruments. Artists of his caliber are few and far between. After Roy Clark, maybe Chet Atkins and Hank Snow’s version comes second.
You can tell it’s a much-loved melody… there’s a ton of musical covers on Youtube by a variety of musicians on a number of different instruments. All of them sound great. Mine might not compare, but it’s been in my repertoire for years and years, one of the stock songs I play just to feel good.
For all the years I’ve thought of Under the Double Eagle as good old country music, I only recently learned it started off as an Austrian march by composer Josef Wagner. Originally known as “Unter dem Doppeladler”, which of course translates to “Under the Double Eagle”. It was written right at the turn of the century around 1902. It caught the attention of John Phillip Sousa, and became one of his favorite marching tunes. He recorded it three different times! I don’t blame him – how could you not love this? It fires the blood, and stirs the spirit.
By the way, the Double Eagle part? That’s from the Australia-Hungary coat of arms. I always wondered what that meant. Had a vision of two eagles soaring side by side. Guess that was wrong, but it was a good thought.
Having played Under the “Doppeladler” for so many years, you’d think recording it would be a snap. Sit down, start the Flip camera, play it once or twice and upload, right? It might work that way if I wasn’t so nervous in front of a camera. Or an audience. Adrenaline kicks in, my hands get shaky, I start getting self conscious. Next thing I know, I’m thinking about how my foot’s pumping the pedal, or where my left hand needs to be, or if I should hit ‘this’ note instead of ‘that’ note. Instead of flowing naturally, like when I’m just having fun, it becomes stilted, jerky, full of mistakes… Ought to be able to play this in my sleep, but instead it took nearly an hour to get a good recording down. What finally calmed me down was to play lots of really fast songs, until some of the adrenaline burned out. Then it went pretty quickly. When it was all said and done, I was pretty happy with the result. Nowhere near as good as Roy Clark… but I had just as much fun playing it!