The Longest Day is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list Songs About Historical Events That Are Surprisingly Accurate

Melissa Sartore

2020 Jun 16

Songs hold a lot of power, telling stories about people, places, emotions, and a host of other topics – including history. Songs about historical events may offer insights into a time long ago. They can also evoke a memory of a not-too-distant historical happening.

Much like historical movies, historical songs may take license in their content – to minimize, emphasize, or simply avoid key facts. Historically accurate songs, on the other hand, can surprise you with just how much they get right. A lot of mainstream songs about war, for example, include details that can almost transport you into the heat of battle. Songs about historical figures may create a personal connection with that individual, building newfound affinity or disdain.

Here’s a list of songs that are surprisingly accurate – which one grabs your attention with its historical truth?

Buffalo Soldier is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list Songs About Historical Events That Are Surprisingly Accurate
Photo: Ueli Frey/Wikimedia Commons/CC-BY-SA 3.0

What It’s About: “Buffalo Soldier” tells the story of African-American cavalry and infantrymen who fought for the United States during the late 19th century. Largely tasked with securing the expanding American West, Buffalo Soldiers fought against Native Americans during the American-Indian Wars until the 1890s and in the Caribbean as part of the Spanish-American War in 1898.

What It Gets Right: Bob Marley and the Wailers correctly describe the Buffalo Soldiers as “taken from Africa, brought to America,” with many of the men having formerly been slaves.

Where It Falls Short: “Buffalo Soldier” accurately depicts the circumstances and activities of its namesake group. Just as the song indicates, Buffalo Soldiers did fight in conflicts like the Battle of San Juan Hill. The poignant lyrics point out how Buffalo Soldiers went from “Fighting on arrival, fighting for survival” in servitude only to take up arms “in the war for America.”