White Bird

Artist – It’s A Beautiful Day
Song – White Bird

White bird in a golden cage,
On a winter’s day,
In the rain

White bird in a golden cage,

The leaves blow ‘cross the long black road
To the darkened sky
In its rage

But the white bird
Just sits in her cage

White bird must fly
Or she will die

The White bird dreams of the aspen trees
With their dying leaves
Turning gold

But the white bird just sits in her cage
Growing old

White bird must fly
Or she will die

The sunsets come
The sunsets go
The clouds roll by
And the Earth turns slow
And the young bird’s eyes do always glow

And she must fly
She must fly
She must fly

White bird in a golden cage
On a winter’s day
In the rain

White bird in a golden cage

White bird must fly
Or she will die (3x)

White bird must fly

It’s a Beautiful Day is a band formed in San Francisco, California in 1967, the brainchild of violinist David LaFlamme

Always Loved This. K-Earth 101 The Oldies F.M. Station In Los Angeles In 1983-1984 Would Always Play This On Their Super 60’s Weekends.They Would Play Everything And All Kinds.Today They Play My Girl 1000 Times A Day.K-Earth Is Too Slick Now.They Were Hot In 83.I Fell In Love With This Song.The Violins Are Awesome.The Song Is A Masterpiece. I Was 9 Years Old In 1983 I Had Good Taste At 9 Because I Still Love This.Thanks It’s A Beautiful Day.This Song Is Special And I Want Others To Realize This.

It’s a Beautiful Day was a band formed in San Francisco, California in 1967, the brainchild of violinist David LaFlamme.

LaFlamme, a former soloist with the Utah Symphony Orchestra, had previously been in the band Orkustra, and unusually, played a five-string violin. The other members were his wife Linda (keyboards), Pattie Santos (vocals), Hal Wagenet (guitar), Mitchell Holman (bass) and Val Fuentes (drums). Although they were one of the earliest and most important San Francisco bands to emerge from the Summer of Love, It’s a Beautiful Day never quite achieved the success of their contemporaries such as The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane and Santana, with whom they had connections. It’s A Beautiful Day created a unique blend of rock, jazz, folk, classical and world beat styles during the seven years the band was officially together.

The group’s original manager, Matthew Katz, had previously worked with Jefferson Airplane and Moby Grape. The members of It’s a Beautiful Day were unaware that the other two groups were already trying to end their business relationships with Katz. During 1967 and early 1968 Katz prevented It’s a Beautiful Day from performing in San Francisco, telling them they were not ready. He booked their first public appearances at a club he controlled in Seattle, Washington formerly known as the Encore Ballroom. Katz renamed the club “San Francisco Sound”. While in Seattle the group lived in the attic of an old house owned by Katz while writing and rehearsing new songs in between club performances. Few customers came to the club during It’s a Beautiful Day’s engagement in Seattle during December 1967.

The group’s signature song “White Bird” was inspired by the experiences David and Linda LaFlamme had while living in Seattle. In an ironic twist on the band’s name, the sad song was partly inspired by Seattle’s rainy winter weather. In a later interview, David LaFlamme said:

“Where the ‘white bird’ thing came from … We were like caged birds in that attic. We had no money, no transportation, the weather was miserable. We were just barely getting by on a very small food allowance provided to us. It was quite an experience, but it was very creative in a way.”

By the time the group members returned to San Francisco they were broke and frustrated at Katz’s attempts to manipulate their career. In desperation they began playing at a few clubs without Katz’s approval. The band gradually began to gain some recognition and earn money. It’s a Beautiful Day got their first big break when offered a chance to open for Cream at the Oakland Coliseum on October 4, 1968. Around this time the group first began a long process of trying to disentangle themselves from Katz.

The band’s debut album, It’s a Beautiful Day, was produced by David LaFlamme in Los Angeles and released by Columbia Records in 1969. It featured tracks such as “White Bird”, “Hot Summer Day”, and “Time Is”. The theme from the song “Bombay Calling” was later used, at a slower tempo, by Deep Purple as the intro to “Child in Time” on its In Rock album. The vocals and violin playing of David LaFlamme plus Pattie Santos’ singing attracted attention including FM radio play, and nationally, “White Bird” bubbled under Billboard’s Hot 100 chart, peaking at #118.

By 1970 the original lineup of the band had changed somewhat; the LaFlammes had split up and Linda left the band, replaced by Fred Webb. The following album, Marrying Maiden, released in 1970, was a chart hit.

The band continued on to record Choice Quality Stuff/Anytime in 1971 and the live album Live At Carnegie Hall in 1972, touring until 1974 when they split up. In 1976, LaFlamme’s solo version of “White Bird” finally cracked the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at #89. Pattie Santos was killed in a car crash on December 14, 1989.


  • This video means a lot to my family and I. A few days after my mother passed (5-3-11), a white pigeon came to visit us. And it kept coming back. My oldest son began feeding it. The white bird comes a few times each week, to this day. We feel it’s the spirit of my mother. Even the neighbors have seen it and they think it’s phenomenal that this white bird keeps coming to our house.

    sdxn2400134 2 months ago

  • This Album is Totally Outstanding!! I Love most psychedelic tunes like BEAUTIFUL DAY; GREATFUL DEAD; QUICKSILVER; JEFFERSON AIRPLANE; COUNTRY JOE & THE FISH; BIG BROTHER; etc. etc. My dad turned me on to this music when I was just a little one. I’m 33 now and still love it!! My dad was 17 years old in the summer of love. He took lots of LSD while listening to this… however for me, it brings back great memories of my childhood and of the great times my dad and I had together. 5X5 STARS!!

    venturesagogo 1 year ago

  • A Song not, of this Consciousness but a stepping stone to another…Well received in the Late Collegiate 60’s and 70’s we did not inhale, enough, but did eat some mighty strange Vitamins on occasion…oh the memories or visceral cheap thrills ….and so on. As for losses…you never forget them…they are somewhere above and looking down perhaps, at all.

    • Memories of this music are so vivid, I was just graduating from highschool. It just haunted me for ages, David was magical on the violin. Linda was in great voice(wife). Everytime I hear this, I just get chills. Hear that little bit of psychedelic flavor in there, doesn’t get any better~~

      Beverly Hollabaugh 2 weeks ago

    • music freedom happiness

      SteveSparx 3 weeks ago

    • well, I don’t know who you are but thanks for the history on the group..I was too broke to buy music but the very sweet and charming lady who ran a place called ‘Mother’s Rock Shoppe’ always had the good incense and lots of underground record albums you could get nowhere else..White Bird is such a beautiful mix of instruments that took rock in a very cool direction that cried for enough approval to be spared the S Baptists’ burn pile anyways.. thanks again

      wallofshine in reply to sdxn2400134 (Show the comment) 1 month ago

    • this song as my grand mothers favorite song.when I die I want this song played at

      my funeral,I was born in the late 70s but songs like this will never die…..

      yolanda rodriguez 1 month ago

    • Genius.

      JET997u 1 month ago

    • realmente liberdade dos passaros e muito indo…..queria ser livre como eles ……..

      pantera2755 2 months ago

    • This happened to our family when our mother passed in 2005! We were all at my brother’s writing out cards. He told us it had been there and there it was. It was there many days. We thought the same thing!

      StephsPoint in reply to sdxn2400134 (Show the comment) 2 months ago

  • very very cool..

    im4out 1 month ago in playlist Favorite videos

  • yes music was special then and lives forever


  • sure is. learned that from reading “Ulysses” (cross reference – Grace’s song “rejoyce”.) “people forget…”

    oscar3eyes in reply to iamther (Show the comment) 2 months ago

  • This goes into my haunting melodies playlist. This is awesome. I seen it, an i could not believe my luck in finding this old masterpiece. I love white snake, and procol harum, and billy idon, also. But this one, tops them all for emotional memory. I am 61, and this song has many, many different memories for me, including vietnam.

    radiowwww 2 months ago

  • what you said really struck me. this group was really underground i guess on east coast. i loved em. wish i had a turntable. i’d listen to their albums like i always used to.

    dove299 in reply to itchamacation (Show the comment) 2 months ago

  • I remember what life was like back then, Vietnam on television every day, country recovering from our President being assinated earlier in the decade, politicians lying their asses off, students being killed by the National Guard. A reliable escape was listening to music. Many of us retreated to our bedrooms to listen to music and kept out the insanity of what was going on.
  • my hair is shorter, but my heart is still in 1968
  • anton4115 in reply to HippieJimi (Show the comment) 1 month ago 7
  • One of my all time favorite songs from 1968 !!!
  • YES! PEACE AND LOVE!~“Feeling”~ a77white 3 days ago
  • Awesome..didn’t forget this. Didn’t have time to recap.Danielle Heizer 3 days ago
  • Wow! Does this take me back. Feel so privileged having lived through those days!🙂 bjw521 4 days ago
  • great great great album by iabd.all time classic. bigcwdbjd78 4 days ago
  • OMG THIS IS ME have you ever found your self in a song or in a movie wow, OMG I have found out who I am I am this bird and I have been in a cage for 60 years alone, trinitythedove 1 week ago
  • Absolutely..I can remember swaying, spinning and listening to this song back then…awesome feelings
  • now this sounds pretty good🙂atirual1 2 weeks ago
  • This song is the ultimate “60’s Anthem” Kristi
  • My hippie woodstock tribute band is learning this song for our big summer gig by the lake – can’t wait! rivalyeah 2 weeks ago 2
  • How can I remember all the words after all these years? carmanmack 2 weeks ago 2
  • Goody goody… I win the rc01010101 most pathetic comment award! Thanks rc, you are the tops. ytoobdood in reply to rc010101013 weeks ago
  • Love, love, love this song! Always get the goosebumps listening…and I always get reduced to a blubbering mess…love this song…LDewild1 3 weeks ago 2
  • That just may be the most pathetic comment I’ve ever read.rc01010101
  • One of my favorite songs from one of my favorite bands from “back in the day”! Thanks so much for posting. Brings me right back.
  • Ride the time machine of music…… Never seems to get old……….your mind is young, but your body reminds of all it has endured. …. thoughts can move you beyond….stay young of heart….live forever.TrickShot6828 3 weeks ago

  • mom was i just listend to the music and still love itTammi

  • had to be thereanton4115

  • my hair is shorter, but my heart is still in 1968 anton4115 in reply to HippieJimi

  • nothing like being a hippie, in a world full of kids and there hateful video games anton4115 in reply to HippieJimi

  • last time i heard this song was 1981.kryptonite736 1 month ago

  • seems to be a fight and poor anologies due to the times this song was aired Just take it as it is and enjoy the vocals and instruments Not close to White RabbitJerald Lenhart 1 month ago

  • 1970 laying in the back of my Dad’s VW bug looking up at the Golden Gate bridge going through sausalito to somewhere in Marin county. Four years old. AM radio. It was a magical time if you were lucky enough to be in the bay area.

    • Any true Knight Rider fan knows and loves this song.racerfree 1 month ago

    • I wasn’t a Hippie in those days, in fact I love soul, R&B, Funk, etc., but I loved this album. So, never say never to what you like, I did. My friends would make fun of me so bad, didn’t care music and soul is soul, get me? Ha, thought you would.evavrgs 1 month ago

    • “reel to reel” Wow far out dude! I aint heard that phrase in a helluva long time. Reel to reels realy sounded great back in the day!ytoobdood in reply to capitansw

    • Black Oak Arkansas… now there was a loud-ass-kickin bunch right there. Put on one helluva show in 70 and 71. Uncle Lijah, When Electricity Came to Arkansas. Hell yea son! That was a cool band in 70 and 71.

      ytoobdood in reply to 167th11b (Show the comment) 1 month ago

      • stiil real. It’s just that we’re old and no longer relevant. Living is for young people. Us old folks, all we can do now is sit and watch. And reminisce.

        ytoobdood in reply to joanjetson55 (Show the comment) 1 month ago

      • I was a hippie once and then I had to get a job so I could buy a house. two cars, a TV in every room, pay my credit card bills, feed my 2.5 kids, etc.

        ytoobdood in reply to HippieJimi (Show the comment) 1 month ago

      • Sorry but that era is long gone 40 years ago and it won’t ever be back. Do you really want to bring it back? Vietnam, all the fighting and violence in the streets about civil rights, the cold war, the assassinations?

        Well, I guess if it could be brought back selectively, that would be OK. Intro of the pill, free love, hitch-hiking, VW vans, Woodstock, and most important of all… my long-lost youth!

        Live in the now man. The 60s are gone forever!ytoobdood 1 month ago

      • Oh Yes! I Love This Song. I do remember when music was special. Thank you for this.icecreamman12340 1 month ago

      • Album art is also so striking and pure — of its time.186peninsula 1 month ago

        • I love this song so much…saw them do it live….it is in my heart….chunter5100 1 month ago 2

        • My first “rock” concert; my seventh grade music teacher, Mrs. Fox, played in the Richmond, Ca symphony. She took us on a field trip where the symphony played with It’s a Beautiful Day. Much later in life, I am now friends with one of the original band members. Real cool. thanks for putting this up.cptboy2000 1 month ago

        • This tune is awesome. The vocals, the instruments and like pointed out, esp the violins.. YES so cool. It’s not screamin/yelling & LOUD crap. Nice smooth beat, soothing.. not fast and RAPid! Nice to hear talented folks w instruments & vocals. Thank you Lori Langlois here on YouTube for pointing this out to me! I agree w you all who are posting here stating how this is fine music. I too wish this era wasn’t gone. Bring it back!JOHNPL1 month ago

        • too me this tune and white rabbit is almost the same. jmoTweedleDumm1 in reply to radiowwww (Show the comment) 1 month ago

        • Yeah i got white rabbit all over the place or did you mean to implicate (it’s a beautiful day has a cover of white rabbit)radiowwww in reply to TweedleDumm1 (Show the comment) 1 month ago

        • Visual with musical artistic sounds – the harmonies have very Bay area tones. Possibly the greatest road music for flat parry’s or sun up/down across the Southwest desert’s. This is very much like Freedom’s Air. What’s not to like? The slideshow needs to be upgraded to an “Avatar” – like video such as a episodic .cgi file.

          • What a treat to find this. I was a freshman in high school in a small town when this came out. Loved it and still do!

            rickstokes1 2 months ago 3

          • … I just drift away with the acoustic guitar. Every worry I have just seems to fade away340rps 2 months ago

          • I remember what life was like back then, Vietnam on television every day, country recovering from our President being assinated earlier in the decade, politicians lying their asses off, students being killed by the National Guard. A reliable escape was listening to music. Many of us retreated to our bedrooms to listen to music and kept out the insanity of what was going on.itchamacation 2 months ago 9

          • sounds like a station in St. Louis ~1973 KADI 93 They never played a top 40 hit, hardly ever heard a commerical & every one loved it.marklmansfield 2 months ago

          • I think I was about 17 when I first heard this. It was something I didnt normally listen to..This was special for the time..still is. music is so powerful..it brings back so much..much much love to my Mom ..who died a few days ago.franciesfinds041 2 months ago 3

          • skunka94 in reply to TrickShot6828

          • White bird must fly or she will be drafted.theoparadise 2 months ago

          • After hearing this, I gotta go tie-dye something… (LOL)TubeChop 2 months ago 2

          • It’s Cool being a Hippie….🙂HippieJimi 3 months ago

            • One of my favorite songs by It’s A Beautiful Day.TheLadyKarissa 3 months ago

            • A Hippie Anthemcalfan4life 3 months ago 

            • Oh, yeah. When music and the world was real.joanjetson55 3 months ago

            • The Earth full of LOVE… It will come….. Paradise Promised….TrickShot6828 3 months ago in playlist

            • beautiful song……..thanks for sharing this….peace love and happiness to all🙂FlavioGirl 3 months ago

              • So glad someone posted this. One of my all time favorites that I have not heard in years. I still have the album.

                mperfit 3 months ago 3

              • wow just surfing old music that comes to mind, don’t have the album. but i still have it on reel to reel!! sorry to just learn of pattie’s passing.

                capitansw in reply to mperfit (Show the comment) 3 months ago

              • Anybody know why I can’t find this on Itunes?Tuscan002 4 months ago

              • Saw them in concert in Houston in 1969. Left an everlasting impression on me, in fact, I still have their first album on vinyl,wildbill1fyi in reply to 340rps (Show the comment) 4 months ago

              • This is why I enjoy You Tube, so much medium of all kinds and every once in a while one comes across a gem like this. You Tube is a fantastic sharing platform and it would be a real shame if it was ever shut down.Tull29 4 months ago 2

Those halcyon days of the late 60’s produced more than their share of San Francisco bands. Here is one who, while their output was small. left their mark nonetheless. The front cover is a splendid painting in the Maxfield Parish style of sky and clouds. Another band from the Bill Graham stable that is worth looking up. via The Albulm Cover Art Gallery

It’s a beautiful day

The heart is a bloom
Shoots up through the stony ground
There’s no room
No space to rent in this town

You’re out of luck
And the reason that you had to care
The traffic is stuck
And you’re not moving anywhere

You thought you’d found a friend
To take you out of this place
Someone you could lend a hand
In return for grace

It’s a beautiful day
Sky falls, you feel like
It’s a beautiful day
Don’t let it get away

You’re on the road
But you’ve got no destination
You’re in the mud
In the maze of her imagination

You love this town
Even if that doesn’t ring true
You’ve been all over
And it’s been all over you

It’s a beautiful day
Don’t let it get away
It’s a beautiful day

Touch me
Take me to that other place
Teach me
I know I’m not a hopeless case

See the world in green and blue
See China right in front of you
See the canyons broken by cloud
See the tuna fleets clearing the sea out
See the Bedouin fires at night
See the oil fields at first light
And see the bird with a leaf in her mouth
After the flood all the colors came out

It was a beautiful day
Don’t let it get away
Beautiful day

Touch me
Take me to that other place
Reach me
I know I’m not a hopeless case

What you don’t have you don’t need it now
What you don’t know you can feel it somehow
What you don’t have you don’t need it now
Don’t need it now
Was a beautiful day


via Lyric Interpretations

I see “Beautiful Day” as a song about hope. The lines “See the bird with a leaf in her mouth/After the flood all the colors came out” refer to the bird and rainbow mentioned in the Book of Genesis (first book in the Bible) in its narrative regarding the flood. The bird, returning to Noah’s Ark with a leaf, signaled that the flood waters had recede, while the rainbow was placed in the sky by God as a promise that He would not cover the Earth with a flood a second time.

This is a real song of hope. It expresses our capacity for love, (the heart is a bloom, shoots up through the stony ground), but that there are times when it is too much and we are emotionally full. We can feel trapped and unable to move forwards.

We all have an amazing capacity to make progress, to look for hope and beauty in the world. It is our choice how we interpret, reflect on and focus upon what is around us. Do we choose to look for and build our lives upon the beauty in this world or on the damage which our human race is capable of inflicting.

The reference to the dove is so uplifting. There is an end to the darkness, to this flood of our creation, available to us all. We have all we need to make it a beautiful day. It is a Beautiful Day. Bono once said the song was about a man who had lost everything but still found joy in what he had. I suppose it could also be just applied to enjoying life.

Its their tribute to Aha’s ‘The Sun always shines on TV’. In that respects its about the potential shallowness of that which appears to be aesthetically beautiful. Harmful things can have the appearance of beauty, but we have to be real and not have rose tinted glasses Hope is through the lens of the interpreter, but the challenge for all of us is to interpret things in a way that matters and save the planet. The sun always shines on TV, but TV is not real life.

Live @ Slane Castle.

U2 Go Home was filmed on Saturday 1 September 2001, the day the team of the Republic of Ireland has secured his qualification for the World Cup football in 2002. The game was shown at Slane Castle before the concert, which had pushed up the atmosphere. Bono says the goal scored by the Irish when he sings “Beautiful Day”, he pronounces “Beautiful Goal” (beautiful view) and kicking a ball.


My Favorite Bureaucrat: Ikiru

Ikiru “To Live“) is a 1952 Japanese film co-written and directed by Akira Kurosawa. The film examines the struggles of a minor Tokyo bureaucrat and his final quest for meaning. The film is inspired by the Leo Tolstoy short story “The Death of Ivan Ilyich“. It stars Takashi Shimura as Kanji Watanabe.


Original Japanese poster
Directed by Akira Kurosawa
Produced by Sojiro Motoki
Written by Shinobu Hashimoto
Akira Kurosawa
Hideo Oguni
Starring Takashi Shimura
Music by Fumio Hayasaka
Cinematography Asakazu Nakai
Editing by Kôichi Iwashita
Distributed by Toho
Release date(s)
  • October 9, 1952
Running time 143 minutes
Country Japan
Language Japanese



Kanji Watanabe (Takashi Shimura) is a middle-aged man who has worked in the same monotonous bureaucratic position for thirty years. His wife is dead and his son and daughter-in-law, who live with him, seem to care mainly about Watanabe’s pension and their future inheritance.

After learning he has stomach cancer and less than a year to live, Watanabe attempts to come to terms with his impending death. He plans to tell his son about the cancer, but decides against it when his son does not pay attention to him. He then tries to find escape in the pleasures of Tokyo’s nightlife, but after one night realizes this is not the solution. In a nightclub, Watanabe requests a song from the piano player, and sings “Gondola no Uta” with great sadness. His singing greatly affects those watching him. The song is a ballad encouraging young women to find love while they are still young and beautiful, for life is short.

The following day, a chance encounter with one of his former subordinates leads him to pursue a different course. Watanabe is attracted to her joyous love of life and enthusiasm. He opens up to her by saying he just wants to live one day in such a carefree, youthful way as she does. She reveals that her happiness comes from her new job making toys, which makes her feel like she is playing with all the children of Japan.

Inspired by her example, Watanabe dedicates his remaining time to accomplishing one worthwhile achievement before his life ends; through his persistent efforts, he is able to overcome the inertia of bureaucracy and turn a mosquito-infested cesspool into a children’s playground.

The last third of the film takes place during Watanabe’s wake, as his former co-workers try to figure out what caused such a dramatic change in his behavior. His transformation from listless bureaucrat to passionate advocate puzzles them. As the co-workers drink, they slowly realize that Watanabe must have known he was dying. They drunkenly vow to live their lives with the same dedication and passion as he did. But back at work, they lack the courage of their newfound conviction.

An iconic scene from the film is from the last few moments in Watanabe’s life, as he sits on the swing at the park he built. As the snow falls, we see Watanabe gazing lovingly over the playground, at peace with himself and the world. He again starts singing “Gondola no Uta”.



Wildfire by Michael Martin Murphy

She Comes down from yellow mountain
On a dark, flat land she rides
On a pony she named Wildfire
When the world went by her side
On a cold Nebraska nightOh they say she died one winter
When there came a killing frost
And the pony she named Wildfire
Busted down his stall
In a blizzard he was lost
She ran calling WILDFIRE!
She ran calling WILDFIRE! she ran calling WILDFIRE!By the dark of the moon I planted
But there came an early snow
There’s been a hoot owl howling by my window now
For six nights in a row
She is coming for me I know
And on WildFire we are both gonna go
We’ll be riding WILDFIRE!
We’ll be riding WILDFIRE! We’ll be riding WILDFIRE!

On WILDFIRE (we are gonna ride)
(we are gonna leave some behind)WILDFIRE!
(get these hard times right on outta our minds..riding wildfire) WILDFIRE!

The Andersonville Trial play is a National Treasure.

The Andersonville Trial (Broadway Theatre Archive)
The Andersonville Trial play is a national treasure.
Something everything involved with it can be proud of,  one of the best thingsever presented on PBS. The story is the trial of Henry Wirz, the commandant of the notorious Confederate P.O.W. camp at Andersonville, Georgia. Shatner is the Union Army prosecutor who must tread onto dangerous ground to make his case. All of the witnesses as portrayed in the film are the actual witnesses who testified at Wirz’s trial, and their dialogue in many cases is taken almost verbatim from the trial transcript. The major change from history is that Wirz did not testify and the whole “moral issue”, around which this film revolves, was never raised at the trial.  (In the original Broadway production, Scott played this role.) Equally good is Jack Cassidy as Wirz’s manipulative defense attorney. Richard Basehart plays Wirz as he was: proud, arrogant and unrepentant. Leading support is a cast some of the finest character actors of a generation: Cameron Mitchell, Buddy Ebsen, John Anderson, Albert Salmi and Whit Bissell. But center to this production is the compelling script. Based on the transcript of the actual tribunal, Saul Leavitt imbued this record of brutality with a great sense of humanity. This one should not be missed.
The Andersonville Trial was a television adaptation of a 1959 hit Broadway play by Saul Levitt, presented as an episode of PBS‘s 1970-71 season of Hollywood Television Theatre. The play was based on the actual 1865 trial of Henry Wirz, played by Richard Basehart, commander of the infamous Confederate Andersonville prison, where thousands of Union prisoners died of exposure, malnutrition, and disease. A notable cast included William Shatner as the Chief JAG Prosecutor Norton Parker ChipmanJack Cassidy (who was nominated for an Emmy) as Wirz’s defense counsel, Cameron Mitchell as Lew Wallace, a Union general and the future author of Ben-Hur, and Buddy Ebsen as a Georgia physician called in to testify about the fate of many of the Union prisoners. The television adaptation was directed by actor George C. Scott, who had played Chipman in the original stage version. In Leonard Probst‘s 1978 compilation of celebrity interviews, Off Camera, Scott explained that what he found most difficult about playing Chipman onstage was that Henry Wirz, the defendant, came across as a tragic victim, although his negligence, according to the verdict, had a great deal to do with the deplorable conditions at Andersonville, and Scott found it very difficult to deal with the fact that the audience was compelled to dislike Chipman, who was, essentially, the hero of the piece. The TV production of the play won 1971 Emmy Awards for “Outstanding Single Program,” for “Technical Direction and Electronic Camerawork,” and for Levitt’s adaptation. It was also honored with a Peabody Award.

Cast and characters

The Andersonville trial took place in 1865. Henry Wirz, commander of the infamous overcrowded Confederate Andersonville prison, where thousands of Union prisoners died of exposure, malnutrition, and disease, was the defendant and was allowed a defense attorney in a military court-martial. After the defense had proven innocence or doubt on all charges, the prosecution could only make a case against Wirz by focusing on his following the orders of his superiors instead of following his own conscience. Soldiers are trained to blind obedience to their superiors without hesitation. Then they are held responsible if they follow those orders instead of their own conscience. Obviously, atrocities are committed on both sides of any war. So, do our morals depend on who wins the war, or on the conscience of the individual involved in the war? If it depends on following the commands of the conscience, then why have a military in the first place?

The Judge, Gen. Lew Wallace (Cameron Mitchell) is hard pressed to keep the two sides in order and arguing relevant legal issues. A scene from PBS’s “The Andersonville Trial”. Broadcast in 1970, this presentation depicted the post-Civil War trial of Captain Henry Wirz, commandant of the infamous prison in Andersonville, GA where 14,000 Union soldiers died. The scene shown here is the key question of the whole presentation: “What is it a man fights for when he takes up arms for his country?” A question still pertinent today.

The Andersonville Trial . . . A Broken Survivor

A scene from PBS’s “The Andersonville Trial”. Broadcast in 1970, this presentation depicted the post-Civil War trial of Captain Henry Wirz, commandant of the infamous prison in Andersonville, GA where 14,000 Union soldiers died. The scene depicts the testimony, in cross-examination, of 19 year old James Davidson, an ex-Union cavalry trooper and former prisoner of the camp, a young man broken in mind and spirit by what he experienced there. This is only part of the scene the whole of which is the most heart-rending of the whole presentation. Davidson is portrayed by Michael Burns, a former child actor who went on to a distinguished career as a historian, writer, and college professor. He is now retired and raising thoroughbred horses in Kentucky. He was familiar to television audiences of the early 1960s as the teenage character Barnaby West on the popular “Wagon Train” series. The man questioning him is Defense Attorney Otis Baker portrayed by Jack Cassidy in one of the finest roles of his career, one in which he was nominated for an Emmy Award. And if not, then why have military courts martial of soldiers who are merely doing their job as they understand it? Lt. Col. N.P Chipman is the Army prosecutor, Otis Baker the defense attorney and Gen. Lew Wallace the judge in the trial of Henry Wirz, the Confederate officer who ran a prisoner of war camp in Andersonville, which saw 14,000 Union prisoners die from cruel neglect. Witnesses include Lt. Col. Chandler, who was assigned to inspect the Andersonville prison; Dr. John C. Bates, the physician at the camp horrified by his experience; Ambrose Spencer, a plantation owner who can testify that food offered to the camp by nearby residents was refused; James Davidson, a haunted 19-year-old prisoner who claims a fellow was torn apart by dogs; Jasper Culver, another prisoner who has a story about a man named Chickamauga; Sgt. James Gray, who testifies that Wirtz killed a man with his own hands; and Dr. Ford, the one witness for the defense. Eleven days after the execution, it was revealed that the star witness from the trial had perjured himself. He was not Felix de la Baume from France, but Felix Oeser, born in SaxonyPrussia. He was actually a deserter from the 7th New York Volunteers. With his real identity revealed, he quickly disappeared. The Andersonville Trial is a television play, which dramatizes the 1865 trial of Henry Wirz, commander of the notorious American Civil War Confederate-run prisoner-of-war camp known as Camp Sumter or Andersonville Prison. In that camp, amidst appalling conditions, thousands of captured Union soldiers perished during the war – upon the war’s end, many of those that survived were found malnourished, diseased and distressed from the conditions there.
William Shatner’s character interrogates a witness at Henry Wirz’s trial.

Buddy Ebsen, a fine actor who does not deserve to be remembered primarily for “Beverly Hillbillies,” is the doctor who worked at the prison for eight months, a man who shows how his compassion gradually became dulled by the horrors of the conditions, until he became inured to the hundreds of deaths he had to certify every day. Michael Burns as James Davidson, a nineteen-year-old Vermont soldier who was incarcerated at Andersonville, shows the traumatic effects of his experiences as he testifies, his role becoming one of the most sympathetic in the entire play.

Following the defeat of the secessionist Confederate army and the Union‘s liberation of the prison in May 1865, Wirz was arrested and tried by a military commission in Washington D.C.’s Capitol building on charges of conspiracy and murder. Wirz argued that he was simply following orders and that he had tried his best to keep conditions at the prison as favorable as possible.

Richard Basehart as Henry Wirz.

A scene from PBS’s “The Andersonville Trial”. Broadcast in 1970, this presentation depicted the post-Civil War trial of Captain Henry Wirz, commandant of the infamous prison in Andersonville, GA where 14,000 Union soldiers died. The scene shown here gets at the heart of the matter: a man who could not disobey his superiors allowing them to kill, vicariously, through him. The actor is Richard Baserhart giving the performance of a lifetime. Nonetheless, he was found guilty and executed in November 1865. The trial was controversial for a number of reasons, with some echoing Wirz’s own defense and others accusing the Union of vengeance, not only for the war, but also for the recent assassination of President Abraham Lincoln.

William Shatner as prosecutor Norton P. Chipman.

This trial was dramatized in 1970 with an award-winning 150 minute PBS production that starred William Shatner as Norton P. Chipman, the Union soldier and prosecutor of Wirz.
Captain Wirz (Richard Basehart in one of his all-time best dramatic roles), was in charge of the prison and is now on trial. His counsel, southern lawyer Otis Baker (Jack Cassidy), is highly skilled at twisting words, and brilliant at forcing the court to consider the rules of wartime engagement and the necessity of following orders. The courtroom battles between Baker and the Union prosecutor, Col. N. P. Chipman (William Shatner, when he was young and hungry for great acting jobs), are memorable for the philosophical complexities of their arguments and the emotions with which they argue their positions. Gen. Lew Wallace (Cameron Mitchell) is hard pressed to keep the two sides in order and arguing relevant legal issues.

Jack Cassidy (left).

Also starring in the television play were Richard Basehart as Wirz, Jack Cassidy as Wirz’s defense council (Cassidy is perhaps best remembered as one of the all-time best recurring Columbovillains) and a host of other names, including a very young Martin Sheen.

Martin Sheen.
There’s little question that this is one of the most meaningful, prestigious and forceful roles that Bill Shatner has ever had.   The play deals with questions surrounding morality, obedience to authority, personal responsibility and free will. As the proceedings unfold, Shatner’s character tries to prove Wirz’s guilt by presenting a succession of witnesses. The trial ends with a dramatic interrogation of Wirz himself, who demands to take the stand, insistent on his innocence.

And there’s fire on the mountain

Took my fam’ly away from my Carolina home
Had dreams about the West and started to roam
Six long months on a dust covered trail
They say heaven’s at the end but so far it’s been hell
And there’s fire on the mountain, lightnin’ in the air
Gold in them hills and it’s waitin’ for me there

We were diggin’ and siftin’ from five to five
Sellin‘ everything we found just to stay alive
Gold flowed free like the whiskey in the bars
Sinnin’ was the big thing, lord and Satan was his star
And there’s fire on the mountain, lightnin’ in the air
Gold in them hills and it’s waitin’ for me there

Dance hall girls were the evenin’ treat
Empty cartridges and blood lined the gutters of the street
Men were shot down for the sake of fun
Or just to hear the noise of their forty-four guns
And there’s fire on the mountain, lightnin’ in the air
Gold in them hills and it’s waitin’ for me there

Now my widow she weeps by my grave
Tears flow free for her man she couldn’t save
Shot down in cold blood by a gun that carried fame
All for a useless and no good worthless claim

And there’s fire on the mountain, lightnin’ in the air
Gold in them hills and it’s waitin’ for me there
Fire on the mountain, lightnin’ in the air
Gold in them hills and it’s waitin’ for me there
Waitin’ for me there

Marshall Tucker Band

The Marshall Tucker Band is an American Southern rock band originally from SpartanburgSouth Carolina. The band’s blend of rockrhythm and bluesjazzcountry, and gospel helped establish the Southern rock genre in the early 1970s. While the band had reached the height of its commercial success by the end of the decade, the band has recorded and performed continuously under various lineups for nearly 40 years.