The Loss of a Songwriter's Songwriter

@FourWalls (9420)
United States
September 22, 2016 8:43pm CST
I cannot even begin to count the times this year I've been literally numbed by the news of the death of a musician. This year has been brutal, and that's an understatement. The latest numbness came this morning, when I learned of the death of John D. Loudermilk. Now, you youngsters might not know him or his name, but I guarantee you that if you're of a certain age you know one of his songs. Loudermilk was truly a songwriter's songwriter. Among the songs he wrote: "Waterloo" (the Stonewall Jackson hit, not the Abba song), "Tobacco Road," "Talk Back Tremblin' Lips," "A Rose and a Baby Ruth," and "Break My Mind." The cousin of the Louvin Brothers (my all-time favorite country duet), Loudermilk's grandfather helped construct the chapel at Duke University. But more than that, Loudermilk was part Cherokee Indian. That was something he didn't discover, as he told George Hamilton IV (who did a number of Loudermilk's songs), until years after he wrote the now-classic "Indian Reservation (Lament of the Cherokee Reservation Indian)." The song was written in the late 1950s and recorded by Marvin Rainwater and Don Fardon before becoming a #1 hit by Paul Revere and the Raiders in 1971. The Western Band of Cherokee awarded Loudermilk a "Medal of Honor," "the only award in the world given to people for bloodline," he said they told him. Not for writing the song, but because his great-great grandparents, Homer and Matilda Loudermilk, were Cherokee Indians. They were, according to Loudermilk, over ninety years old when they were put on the infamous Trail of Tears. They survived the march from North Carolina to Oklahoma ("and farmed for five or six years after that," Loudermilk said on the radio show). "I didn't know that when I wrote the song," he said. "I wrote it from the heart. Now I know why." John D. Loudermilk was 82. Here's his original version of "Indian Reservation (Lament of the Cherokee Reservation Indian)":
Dedicated to all my Native American friends here on YT and beyond. Always loved these lyrics. Very powerful. Indian Reservation Paul Revere and the Raiders T...
5 people like this
4 responses
@teamfreak16 (34964)
• Colorado Springs, Colorado
23 Sep 16
Huh. I always thought Paul Revere or Mark Lindsay wrote it. R.I.P.
1 person likes this
@FourWalls (9420)
• United States
23 Sep 16
Oh, no, time for ten more songs you didn't know were covers.....
1 person likes this
@JohnRoberts (38520)
• Los Angeles, California
27 Sep 16
I remember the Paul Revere hit but knew nothing of the song's background.
1 person likes this
@Telynor (1117)
• United States
24 Sep 16
Far too many excellent musicians and writers have passed this year.
1 person likes this
• Cebu, Philippines
23 Sep 16
Sad but beautiful. I'll definitely be looking for more of your posts!