Where the Phrase “Face the Music” Came From
By Kaye Nemec
Have you ever heard someone say, “Well, you better face the music?” Face the music? What does that mean – where did that phrase come from?
The phrase “face the music” has a military history. When disgraced or dishonored soldiers were being relieved of their duties and stripped of their rank their final march was accompanied by drums – it is commonly referred to as “drumming out.”
During the Civil War some officers had their heads shaved before drumming out. Although their fellow officers were not permitted to touch them as they passed by, several cases were reported in which the discharged soldier was later found dead.
Some historical references claim that soldiers were forced to sit on their horse backwards as they were marched passed their comrades so they could see and hear the drums – therefore facing the music.
Photo: Duane Matsen (cc)