Band releases new album inspired by US Civil War
Granville Automatic, a band with roots in Atlanta, is releasing its collection of songs inspired by Civil War battles, part of a related project to film videos of the songs on battlefields in the U.S.
The album released this weekend, “An Army Without Music,” includes songs about soldiers, horses and ghosts in several southern states.
The band has filmed videos of the songs in the places that inspired them, and has plans to shoot more videos in Tennessee, Kentucky and Virginia.
Every second of battle in the American Civil War was filled with stories, many of which have gone untold, band member Elizabeth Elkins said.
The band’s goal is to capture the immense emotional and human imprints the war left not only on soldiers, but their loved ones, she said. “Lanterns at Horseshoe Ridge,” for instance, recounts the night when mothers and daughters of soldiers used lanterns to search for their dead or dying loved ones near Chattanooga, Tennessee, in 1863.
Many of the songs were inspired years ago, when Elkins and Granville Automatic vocalist Vanessa Olivarez lived in metro Atlanta. Elkins recalls driving down Atlanta’s Moreland Avenue, across battlefields now covered by streets and stores, and hoping the stories of the Civil War were not lost to history.
“We’re paving over a tragedy and we’re not remembering it,” Elkins said in a recent phone interview.
Music, she said, is one way the stories of the war can be told and re-told, even if many of the battlefields in Atlanta, Nashville and other cities are now buried by neighborhoods and business districts.
“Their whole principle is about writing music about things that are disappearing,” said Robert Harrison of Smyrna, Georgia, whose ancestor Grancer Harrison is the subject of one of the songs on the new album.
“The landscape changes, other connections to the past disappear with development,” Harrison said.
The band’s song “Grancer Harrison” is set in southern Alabama, the final resting place for Harrison, one of the “13 ghosts of Alabama.” Harrison, who lost several sons in the Civil War, was known for throwing huge parties every full moon. He asked to be buried with the dancing shoes he wore and the fiddle he played during those parties.
“They did so much research on the story, and they were so detailed about it,” Robert Harrison said. “They found out a lot of details that even our family didn’t know.”
In 2013, the band filmed a video to go with the song at Grancer Harrison’s grave in Coffee County, Alabama.