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Alonzo Elliott's story from an article saved by Captain S. B. Butler. Paper's name and date are not recorded.
Most songs are written under some particular circumstances. Zo Elliott's "There's a Long, Long Trail," the always tuneful song that has become so popular with the soldiers, was written shortly before the present war, when Mr. Elliott was a senior at Yale College, says the Musical Courier. In discussing the circumstances under which his song was written, he said: "I am sorry that I can't make a romance out of it. As a matter of fact the "Trail" was not even intended as a war ballad, as some people call it. You see, Stoddard King, who wrote the words, and myself used to write all the music for the college comic operas. In our senior year we were to hold our fraternity banquet in Boston. The boys all liked comic songs and we had worked hard to turn them out, but we decided that song with a 'heart throb' was what was lacking. So one evening, when I should have been cramming, the chorus of the 'Trail' first ran throught my brain. I jumped over to the piano stool and tried the mental melody over on the keys,
When America came into the war Mr Elliott was admitted to Plattsburg for training. After seven weeks, much to his intense regret, he was discharged on account of physical disability. "During my sojourn in camp," he remarked; "the band used to play at reveille; one morning they played 'There's a Long, Long Trail.' For me it took the curse out of rising early that morning. I was delighted to notice that on the way to mess the boys whistled it. The next day, too. My bunkie, Ridgley, was most amusing, he leaned down -- one bunk was over the other -- and said: 'Elliott, there's that d--- tune again.' I also had the pleasure too, of learning that it was a pretty decent march tune."
"Do you know the parody on the'Trail?' The one that originated at Plattsburg, which begins: 'There's a long, long trail a winding into No Man's Land.' At a musical this winter a lady told me that the Grisleys, of San Fransisco claimed it. When I went to New Haven a few weeks ago a man told me that he knew the fellow who had written the words. 'King?' I asked. 'No,' he replied. 'Lieutenant Clarkson.' Whereever he is I want him to know that I give him full credit for the words of the parody. I can't write and tell him myself because I don't know to what company he belongs.
"I feel differently. When I returned from Plattsburg to New York, the first thing that I heard was the Scotch pipers playing "There's a Long, Long Trail' as they marched down Fifth Avenue. I followed them as far as I could, having a strong desire to weep. Gradually this sorrow gave place to a feeling that I should at least be glad that I had done a little something in turning out a song that would brighten the lives of the boys. Most writers of patriotic songs don't understand the psychology of the soldiers. The Anglo-Saxon warrior likes to sing songs of home and the girl he left behind him. He shies at the Latin's more dramatiic song of his country. In writing, I try to get a song that the boys will enjoy singing. Something simple but good!!" Mr. Elliot's song has also been awarded the Joseph Vernon prize for the best song written by a member of the Yale University. No songs of sufficient merit were submitted by the undergraduates, so the class of 1885 requested that the prize be awarded to Messrs. Elliott and King.