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Songs of Susanna Songbook

This collection focuses on Texas history, written and performed by acclaimed Texas songwriter Fletcher Clark. Songs of Susanna began with the epic ballad, There Must Be a Good Man in Texas – a panoramic tale in four chapters of the colorful life of the Messenger of the Alamo. The ballad was first composed for the 2014 celebration of her 200th birthday by the Susanna Dickinson Museum in Austin. Battle of Gonzales and Immortal Thirty-Two were commissioned and presented for dedication ceremonies of their respective monuments. Burn Gonzales, Runaway Scrape, Brother, Dear Brother, and San Jacinto depict aspects of the struggle of Texians throughout the Texas war of independence from Mexico. Texas Rangers was commissioned and presented for a Texas Ranger Memorial Cross Ceremony at the Stockdale Cemetery. Ride My Billy Horse was commissioned and presented for the dedication of an Official Texas Historical Marker in Belmont, Texas.

The selections with Fletcher's remarks about the songs.

  1. Songs of Susanna Chapter 1 (2014) Songs of Susanna began with my epic ballad, There Must Be a Good Man in Texas – a panoramic tale in four chapters of the colorful life of the great Texas heroine Susanna Dickinson, Messenger of the Alamo. It was first composed for the celebration of her 200th birthday for the Susanna Dickinson Museum in Austin. Chapter 1 follows Sue’s early life of coming to Texas with her husband Almeron Dickinson, through his death at the Fall of the Alamo, and then through the Texian victory at San Jacinto.
  2. Battle of Gonzales On October 2, 2015, for the dedication of the First Shot Monument in Cost, Texas, I presented this song, setting the stage for the journey from Gonzales’ First Shot Battlefield to San Antonio and the Siege of Béxar. I was joined by the Shakespeare Ninjas youth troupe from the Gonzales Crystal Theatre. We recurrently present programs of dramatized excerpts from Songs of Susanna and my songs.
  3. Immortal Thirty-Two For the February 28, 2015, re-dedication ceremonies of the commemorative plaque at the Gonzales Memorial Museum for the fallen heroes of the Gonzales Mounted Ranging Company (Immortal 32), I presented this ballad. Sons of the Republic of Texas and Retired Texas Rangers oversaw the ceremony which included Roll Call, Taps, and Cannon Salute, culminating with my song.
  4. Burn Gonzales (2017) As Houston sought to gather an army in Gonzales, word came that the Alamo had fallen and that Santa Anna had called for Texian capitulation. General Sam ordered the town abandoned and put to the torch, depriving the despot of any replenishing stores for his under-supplied forces.
  5. Runaway Scrape (2015) News of Santa Anna’s cruel ravishing of insurgents in Zacatecas spread throughout the land. He sent an open letter to Texians – and Americans in New Orleans – of his intent to regard all insurgents as pirates, and according the Tornel Decree, subject to immediate execution. Thus began the flight toward the imagined safety beyond the US border, the ‘Sabine Shoot.’ This dramatic tale is the subject of another program I regularly present with my colleague author/historian Donaly Brice to history groups.
  6. Brother, Dear Brother (2015) Also part of our Runaway Scrape program, this song is about the pathos of the families left behind – wives, mothers, children, sisters, old folks – while Texas men went off to what for many would be certain death. Someday, someone will tell thoroughly the many heroic episodes of the horde of Texians who constituted the Runaway Scrape – not as a matter of history, but as a matter of human drama.
  7. San Jacinto ~ Narrative (2017) As the Texians took the field against Santa Anna at San Jacinto, it is said they were led into battle by a drummer and a fifer – the only musicians in the company. The only tune the fifer knew was the old Irish folk song, ‘Will You Come to the Bower’. This song is based on that Irish ditty. What immediately follows is the spoken footnote prior to Chapter 2 of Songs of Susanna,)
  8. Songs of Susanna Chapter 2 Susanna - penniless, illiterate, and unskilled - embarks on a search for a stable partner and husband in the new town of Houston. She finds him, but finally Sue must divorce her cruel and abusive second husband.
  9. Texas Rangers On Memorial Day, May 27, 2013, a Texas Memorial Cross Ceremony honoring Ranger James Maddox Bell (1865-1897) was held at the Stockdale Cemetery, presented by the Former Texas Rangers Foundation. My friend Pat Baker Parsons had asked me to prepare and present a song for this graveside dedication for her great-grand-uncle. I adapted this traditional folk song, enriching the lyrics and composing a fresh musical setting.
  10. Songs of Susanna Chapter 3 Susanna finds husband number three, but loses him to alcohol. Then, even after “coming to the Lord” in Houston, husband number four forces Sue to leave him for Lockhart, where she would finally settle Almeron’s estate and establish a good business for herself.
  11. Ride My Billy Horse On May 9, 2015, though the efforts of the Gonzales County Historical Commission, on the highway TX80 just south of its crossing of the Guadalupe River, an Official Texas Historical Marker was dedicated on site of the ranch of William B. Fleming. Fleming is remembered as the father of the breed of ‘Billy’ quarter horses, which figured prominently in the emerging ranch and cattle life of Texas. The property has been owned for sometime by the family of my friend, naturalist Howie Richey. I was asked to write and perform a song for the occasion.
  12. Songs of Susanna Chapter 4 Susanna marries her fifth and lasting husband Joseph Hannig. Her daughter Angelina would abandon her family, so two of the grandchildren came to Sue. Their move to Austin brought prosperity and propriety for the later years of this great Texas heroine, buried there at Oakwood Cemetery.

Fletcher Clark has combined his love of history with his amazing talent as a Texas singer/songwriter to produce SONGS OF SUSANNA, a CD collection of ballads and songs highlighting events in the colorful history of the Republic of Texas. His attention to historical detail and wonderful lyrics and melodies have created a unique and wonderful way to teach the history of the Lone State State as well as delightfully entertain his listeners.
Donaly E. Brice, Author/Historian
Senior Reference Archivist Emeritus
Texas State Archives

This is a thoughtful and well-produced collection of songs that tell the little-known but epic tale of Susanna Dickinson. Too often women are not included in the telling of Texas history. This excellent CD helps correct that, relating the remarkable life of this courageous and resourceful pioneer who witnessed many of the monumental events that shaped early Texas depicted in these songs.
Dr. Gary Hartman, Director
Center for Texas Music History
Texas State University

I can think of no better person to create a musical tribute to the legendary Susanna Dickenson than another notable Texan such as Fletcher Clark. What a perfect fit.
Jaston Williams, Actor/Playwright

©2018, Fletcher Clark
All Rights Reserved.
rev. 12/4/18