'Civil War' soundtrack hits station with a bang

January 02, 1991|By Henry Scarupa

It's a sad, haunting melody and listeners love it.

Ashokan Farewell" -- the plaintive fiddle theme from the soundtrack of Ken Burns' documentary "The Civil War" -- is off and running on at least one local country music radio station.

Greg Cole, music director for WPOC-FM, reports the cut, performed by J. Unger and the group Fiddle Fever, drew a couple dozen requests, more than any other number played during the week before Christmas.

"In comparison with the other songs we carried that week, it was by far and away the leader," he says.

The instrumental, written by J. Unger and part of the soundtrack album issued on the Elektra Nonesuch label in December, is being aired on WPOC about once every six hours, occasionally with the reading of Sullivan Ballou's touching farewell to his wife, also on the disc.

Asked about the theme's wide appeal, Mr. Cole explains, "A lot of people saw the TV show. . . . It has a haunting quality that reminds people of the time when brother fought against brother."

At WCAO-AM, Baltimore's other country music station, promotion director Sarah Eagle notes the piece has been aired but says she is not aware of any listener response.

The soundtrack made Billboard magazine's chart of top crossover albums late last month, placing 13th.

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