Various European countries claim the original of the tune we know as Yankee Doodle, and it was the British who brought the tune to America during the French and Indian Wars. The opening words of the song refer to the fact that when Oliver Cromwell rode horseback into Oxford in 1653 he wore a hat decorated with a single feather fastened by an elaborate knot — an Italian decoration called a "macaroni." The British troops used the song and the term sarcastically, to ridicule the makeshift appearance of the dress of American Colonial troops. When the Revolution began, the Americans adopted the song as a rallying tune, and it was played by fifers and drummers in every camp and battle. At the British surrender at Yorktown on Oct. 19, 1781, the American army band played Yankee Doodle to celebrate the American victory.
YANKEE DOODLE LYRICS
Yankee Doodle went to town,
A-riding on a pony,
He stuck a feather in his hat
And called it macaroni.
(CHORUS) Yankee Doodle, keep it up,
Yankee Doodle dandy,
Mind the music and the step,
And with the girls be handy.
Father and I went down to camp,
Along with Captain Goodin',
And there we see the men and boys
As thick as hasty puddin'.
And there was Gen'ral Washington,
Upon a slapping stallion,
A-giving orders to his men-
I guess there was a million.
A long war then was fought and won:
The British were defeated,
And Yankee Doodle was the march
To which their troops retreated.