Under the Double Eagle


from http://hillbillycountry.blogspot.com and http://unusualkentucky.blogspot.com

“Under The Double Eagle” was composed as a march by Josef Franz Wagner in the late 19th Century as “Unter dem Doppeladler”. Wagner was an Austrian composer and bandmaster and the title of his composition refers to the “double eagle” on the coat of arms of Austria-Hungary under Emperor Franz Josef. Americans on the other hand, took “double eagle” to mean a slang term for the American $20.00 gold coin in common use at the time, which made it a more acceptable premise.

John Philip Sousa, American bandmaster and noted march composer considered this tune to be one of his favorites and his various recordings as well as public performances spread the song far and wide. It was easily adaptable to the rural groups and instruments of the day, especially the fiddle (violin), piano and many other instruments as well. The song is now considered a country music classic and has evolved into Bluegrass, Western Swing, and other Country music styles over the years. Where Herr Wagner got his original inspiration for the song is anybody’s guess.

The Double-headed Eagle is  associated with the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, which is why you find it so often on gravestones. Manly P. Hall says it’s an alchemical symbol of the union between the masculine and feminine principles in the individual, but as with most of his explanations to the public, there’s probably much more than meets the eye.

The symbol itself predates the Scotch-Rite Masons, the earliest written reference to which is 1733. The Hittites held the symbol in great esteem, and were carving representations of it as early as two thousand years before the birth of Christ (see photo above). Now that’s old time.

Tony Russell’s “Country Music Records”  lists 12 versions of “Under the Double Eagle” on 78 rpm. Here is a version from the 70’s by Fred Cockerham.

Fred Cockerham fiddles “Under the Double Eagle”:


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