The Fillmore & Buchanan March

In belated honor of Presidents Day, 2008, here’s a song written in tribute to two of our forgotten, and worst, presidents. It’s called “The Fillmore & Buchanan March” and it goes like this:

This piece was written for the Paint Branch Blue Boys, first under the title “The House of James March,” after the home to which bassist James Key so generously invites the lot of us to practice most Monday nights. I found myself playing the tune on the mandolin while attempting to come to terms with “Under the Double Eagle” (which likewise shifts between keys) and the mandolin more generally. It is my virgin tunesmithing effort on the mandolin.

The piece was renamed “The Fillmore & Buchanan March” in the midst of all the 2008 Presidents Day excitement, as a way of remembering the unelected signer of the Fugitive Slave Act and failed Know Nothing candidate, Millard Fillmore, and along with him, James Buchanan, the “doughface” bachelor president whose bronze and granite memorial residing near the Southeast corner of Washington, D.C.’s Meridian Hill Park is among the least-visited and least-well-loved statues in our nation’s Capital. I have contributed information on this memorial to the Wikipedia entry on Buchanan (and really should get around to uploading a photograph of it as well).

CHORDS AND MELODY

If you’d like to play along with the recording above (which you can also download here), the chord progression follows the basic march/polka/ragtime formula (e.g., “Under the Double Eagle,” “Roll Out the Barrel,” “Tiger Rag”), though it shifts between the keys of C and G. Each slash represents a 2/4 measure.

C / / /
C / G7 /
G7 / / /
G7 / C G7
C / / /
C C7 F /
F / C D7
G7 / C /

G / / /
G / D7 /
D7 / / /
A7 / D7 /
G / / /
G G7 C /
C / G A7
D7 / G /

If you’d like to play the melody, you can download a PDF of my handwritten manuscript for it. The recording was made first (recorded using the built-in microphone of my Dell laptop), as a scratch track for band reference. The written version simplifies the rhythm for adaptation for other instruments, and improves somewhat on the turnarounds you’ll hear in the recording.

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