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Jan. 27: Fifty-one years ago tonight on Music Row, a song marking a historical event from 144 years and 19 days beforehand was recorded. The event and the song shared a name: the Battle of New Orleans, the last major action of the War of 1812, led by Old Hickory himself, Andrew Jackson.

Here’s the complete skinny on the smash pop and country hit. And here are the highlights: Jimmie Driftwood, an Arkansas educator, had written lighthearted lyrics about the battle, set to the famed comemorative fiddle tune “The 8th of January.” (That’s the date in 1815 of the monthlong Battle of New Orleans’ chief skirmish, which saw 2,042 British casualties and just 71 American.) He recorded a version in 1958, and Johnny Horton covered it early the next year.

Aside from the clever, memorable lyrics, what stands out about Horton’s record are Harold Bradley’s work on the plectrum banjo, Buddy Harman’s martial drumming throughout, and the singer’s spirited delivery, especially in the chorus.

Much like television’s School House Rock in the 1970s, “The Battle Of New Orleans” helped bring a lesson to life, and surely kept the circumstances of the fight — which occurred after the peace treaty was signed and thus was largely for pride — in public consicousness.

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