The Year of Jubilo (song)

Walking home through Georgia in the Year of Jubilo
The War Between the States is finally over
Beside a burnt-out farmhouse music fills the air
Where a mockingbird is singing in the clover

I try to whistle up a tune, a dear old mountain song
But something bright inside me just dies
Of all the things I’ve seen and done, and all the men I’ve killed
A happy song sounds like a pack of lies

But though we may not feel like singing
Music soothes the soul
And it’s a sin to kill a songbird
In the Year of Jubilo

Lord knows I have been hungry and you don’t know what it means
When a widow feeds you cornbread with grits and greens
And sleeping in that widow’s barn, bedded in the hay
To hear a whippoorwill a’calling at break of day

And though we may be hungry
Music feeds the souls
And it’s a sin to kill a songbird
In the Year of Jubilo


Little boys they sing of marching off to war
And little girls they sing of love forevermore
Old men sing of horses that they used to ride
Old women sing of meeting in the sweet by-and-by.

A child is playing in the dirt beside the weary road
Once a white man owned him, it was all he knowed
A bluebird singing in the bush, the child claps and laughs
And something cold and hard inside me finally thaws and cracks

Though we may be slaves to life and death
Music frees the soul
And it’s a sin to kill a songbird
In the Year of Jubilo


The Year of Jubilo was a name given by freed slaves to the year the American Civil War (or “The War Between the States” as it was – and still is – known in the South) ended.

I believe I wrote this after reading the excellent novel by the same name a few years ago by Howard Bahr: The Year of Jubilo.

When I was originally working out the music for it, I had planned on adding a musical coda after the last verse of the tune “The Year of Jubilo”, also known as “Kingdom Coming”. However, it proved too tricky for my limited guitar playing ability.


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