MP3 of the Day: "The Vacant Chair," Performed By Matthew Sabatella

Today's MP3 of the day relates to the serious meaning behind Memorial Day, and comes courtesy of local troubadour Matthew Sabatella. He's one of the most unique solo performers in town, as he's dedicated his work lately to preserving American folk traditions. But not folk like the festival in Newport, think even further back -- as in, before most recorded popular music.

Sabatella's Ballad of America series has showcased music of the the 18th (really!) and 19th centuries. Volume Three, for instance, was dedicated to songs from the lifetime of Abraham Lincoln (and it seems Honest Abe was a sentimental fella).

So following that, Sabatella offers for free download his rendition of the traditional song "The Vacant Chair," with music by George F. Root and words by Henry S. Washburn. Get the explanation behind the song, and the download link, after the jump.

Here's Sabatella's explanation of the song's background:

The song was written during the

American Civil War at Thanksgiving time in 1861, as families in the

North and South gathered for holiday celebrations and found themselves

staring at "the

vacant chair." The song was one of the most widely sung during the

Civil War, popular among soldiers and civilians in both the North and


To get the free MP3, you'll have to subscribe to Sabatella's e-mail list, which is easy. Just click the link below and follow the instructions.

MP3: Matthew Sabatella - "The Vacant Chair"

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