Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Thursday Thirteen - 78 - 13 Songs From the First World War Era, 1914 to 1918

Many people are born on holidays, and I was born on Remembrance Day. This aspect sums me up perfectly. I feel a deep kinship to the warrior spirit, and I have always admired soldiers who have fought throughout the ages. Yet inside me, my heart moves toward peace. To be born on the day when the Armistice was signed is perfect, for the laying-down-of-arms is the sweetest victory of all.

Last Friday I went to see Passchendaele, a new film about a soldier from the Canadian Expeditionary Force's recovery from the front and eventual return during WWI. Very, very important to give Canadian films some opening box office love: it scored second in Canadian box office ranking for its opening weekend. Go, Paul Gross, go!

Heading towards Remembrance Day, for today's Thursday Thirteen I'm showcasing songs and music from the era of The Great War.

1 - Tres Moutarde (Too Much Mustard), written by Cecil Macklin, 1911

This is Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers dancing the Castle Walk, a dance which was popular during the war years. This clip is from The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle.

2 - Castle House Rag, written by James Reese Europe, 1914

This is the new wave of dance music that spread during the war years as African American regiments served in Europe. They brought their musical polyphonic style and synthesized it with European waltz and polka music. The precursor of jazz, ragtime is the First World War's cultural reaction to social upheaval, which was extreme at the turn of the 20th century.

3 - Oh, Johnny, Oh, Johnny, Oh!, sung here by the Andrews Sisters when it enjoyed a hugely popular revival during the Second World War

Oh, Johnny! Oh, Johnny!
How you can love!
Oh, Johnny! Oh, Johnny!
Heavens above!
You make my sad heart jump with joy,
And when you're near I just
Can't sit still a minute.
I'm so, Oh, Johnny! Oh, Johnny!
Please tell me dear.
What makes me love you so?
You're not handsome, it's true,
But when I look at you,
I just, Oh, Johnny!
Oh, Johnny! Oh!

- Music by Ed Rose, lyrics by Abe Olman, 1917

4 - How Ya Gonna Keep 'Em Down On The Farm sung here by Judy Garland from the film For Me and My Gal. This song was popular during the First World War, and appeared in the 1942 film which was set during the earlier war. In typical Hollywood fashion, the men are shown in WWI uniform, but Judy Garland is costumed in what was 1940's contemporary style.

How ya gonna keep 'em down on the farm
After they've seen Paree'
How ya gonna keep 'em away from Broadway
Jazzin around and paintin' the town
How ya gonna keep 'em away from harm, that's a mystery
They'll never want to see a rake or plow
And who the deuce can parleyvous a cow?
How ya gonna keep 'em down on the farm
After they've seen Paree'

- Music by Walter Donaldson, lyrics by Joe Young and Sam M. Lewis, 1918

5 - Mademoiselle from Armentieres sung by Lew Dite

Mademoiselle from Armentieres, Parley-voo?
Mademoiselle from Armentieres, Parley-voo?
Mademoiselle from Armentieres,
She hasn't been kissed in forty years,
Hinky, dinky, parley-voo.

- The tune dates back to the French army of the 1830's. The updated WWI lyrics have no official credited author.

6 - Over There, sung by The Eric Rogers Chorale and Orchestra

Over there, over there,
Send the word, send the word over there -
That the Yanks are coming,
The Yanks are coming,
The drums rum-tumming
So prepare, say a pray'r,
Send the word, send the word to beware.
We'll be over, we're coming over,
And we won't come back till it's over
Over there.

- Music and lyrics by George M. Cohen, 1917

7 - Keep the Home Fires Burning sung by Linda Williams with the Rockford Symphony Orchestra

Keep the home fires burning,
While your hearts are yearning,
Though your lads are far away
They dream of home.
There's a silver lining
Through the dark clouds shining,
Turn the dark cloud inside out
'Til the boys come home.

- Music by Ivor Novello, lyrics by Lena Ford, 1914

8 - There's a Long, Long Trail A-Winding, sung by John McCormack

There's a long, long trail a-winding
Into the land of my dreams,
Where the nightingales are singing
And a white moon beams:
There's a long, long night of waiting
Until my dreams all come true;
Till the day when I'll be going down
That long, long trail with you.

- Music by Alonzo Elliott, lyrics by Stoddard King, 1915

9 - Oh, It's a Lovely War, from the 1969 film Oh! What a Lovely War by Richard Attenborough

Oh, oh, oh it's a lovely war.
Who wouldn't be a soldier, eh?
Oh it's a shame to take the pay.
As soon as reveille has gone
We feel just as heavy as lead,
But we never get up till the sergeant
Brings our breakfast up to bed.
Oh, oh, oh, it's a lovely war.

- Music by J.P. Long, lyrics by M. Scott, 1917

10 - Pack Up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit Bag

Pack up your troubles in your old kit-bag,
And smile, smile, smile,
While you’ve a lucifer to light your fag,
Smile, boys, that’s the style.
What’s the use of worrying?
It never was worth while, so
Pack up your troubles in your old kit-bag,
And smile, smile, smile.

- Music by Felix Powell, lyrics by George Asaf (aka George Powell), 1915

11 - It's a Long Way to Tipperary, sung by John McCormack

It's a long way to Tipperary,
It's a long way to go.
It's a long way to Tipperary
To the sweetest girl I know!
Goodbye Piccadilly,
Farewell Leicester Square!
It's a long long way to Tipperary,
But my heart's right there.

- Music by Jack Judge, lyrics by Harry Williams, 1912

12 - Land of Hope and Glory, performed by the London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by the composer, Sir Edward Elgar

Land of Hope and Glory, Mother of the Free,
How shall we extol thee, who are born of thee ?
Wider still and wider shall thy bounds be set ;
God, who made thee mighty, make thee mightier yet,
God, who made thee mighty, make thee mightier yet.

- Music by Edward Elgar, lyrics by Arthur C Benson, 1902

13 - Dinky Di, performed by the Herndon High School Guitar Ensemble from Virginia

This Australian trench song was sung to the tune of Sweet Betsy From Pike, a popular folk song from the 19th century.

Well, the lousy Lance Corporal said, “Pardon me, please,
You’ve mud on your tunic and blood on your sleeve,
And you look so disgraceful that people will laugh.”
Said the lousy Lance Corporal on headquarters’ staff.
Dinky di, dinky di, for I am a digger who won’t tell a lie.

The digger just shot him – a murderous glance,
Said he, “I’m just back from the balls-up in France,
Where whiz-bangs are flying and comforts are few
And brave men are dying for bastards like you!”
Dinky di, dinky di, for I am a digger who won’t tell a lie.

“We’re shelled on the left and we’re shelled on the right
We’re bombed through the day and we’re bombed through the night;
And if something don’t happen – and that very soon –
There’ll be nobody left in the flamin’ platoon!”
Dinky di, dinky di, for I am a digger who won’t tell a lie.

Well, the question soon came to the ears of Lord Gort
Who gave the whole matter a good deal of thought;
He awarded that digger a VC with bars
For giving that Corporal a kick up the arse.
Dinky di, dinky di, for I am a digger who won’t tell a lie.

Next week, I'll be featuring songs and music from the Second World War era. Join me!


Mia Celeste said...

Very cool. It's fun to go back in time and learn something new.

Shelley Munro said...

This is a very cool TT, Julia. I remember my father singing some of these. Have you seen the movie Gallipoli with Mel Gibson? That's a very good movie.

Julia Phillips Smith said...

Yes, Shelley - I love 'Gallipoli'.

Joyce said...

What a wonderful post. It's amazing how many of those songs are part of my own childhood memories. I guess people in my family must have sung them, though they weren't old enough to have lived during that era.

I am especially fond of How Ya Gonna Keep 'Em Down on the Farm, Over There, Pack Up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit Bag, and It's a Long Way to Tipperary.

Sandee said...

I tried to leave you a comment yesterday and your blog wasn't having it.

I wanted to say what a great group of inspirational music you have here. I've heard everyone of them before now too.

Excellent post. Have a great day and weekend. :)

Julia Phillips Smith said...

Thanks Sandee - apparently Blogger was having nervous breakdowns yesterday.

Amy Ruttan said...

In Flanders Fields where poppies grow, between the crosses row by row.

Everytime I hear that poem I cry like a baby.

My great grandfather was a survivor of Vimy Ridge. My grandpa has the helmet where a bullet just skimmed the top.

Julia Phillips Smith said...

Amy - for some reason, any mention of 'the tomb of the unknown soldier' makes me cry immediately. Very, very cool about your great-grandfather and the helmet.

Anonymous said...

This is a really wonderful TT. Thank you so much for posting it. My father knew a man in WW2 who said that the old WW1 song, Ivor Novello's beautiful "Keep The Home Fires Burning" was not actually banned but was discouraged because it was so sad it caused some men to desert.

I love the clip of Elgar asking the orchestra at Abbey Road to play "Land of Hope and Glory" as though they had never heard it before! I watched that 4 times with tears pouring down this Brit expats face! Silly old fool!

Julia Phillips Smith said...

Nicholas - so glad you liked it! I really love the Elgar one, too, because they're playing it the way the composer actually intended it - no one else's interpretation. I'm really happy to have found that version on YouTube.

Ann said...

Very cool list. I'm familiar with most of these songs. My grandfather was in WWI (he was young enough though that it ended before he was sent to Europe- he spent his duty in NY).