Songs That Won The War December 03 2009, 0 Comments

Songs that Won the War Contributed by Jack Kopstein It seems hardly possible with all the world strife happening that in 2010 it will be 65 years since the end of World War II. It is even more astonishing that songs we sang and played during the war are still popular and have taken on a complete life of their own. Young people and baby boomers alike have helped to keep the home fires burning, so to speak, with their support of the great “Songs That Won the War.” In 1941, as the battle machine began to gear up, the popular culture shifted to war-themed entertainment, including song hits like the Andrews Sisters “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy,” “I Don’t Want to Set the World on Fire” (recorded by Tommy Tucker and later the Ink Spots), and “Kiss the Boys Goodbye,” recorded by Tommy Dorsey, with vocals by Connie Haines. Much of the music heard during the early period of the war was subdued and the days of urbane little ditties gave way to more sophisticated and emotional songs. Some songs which had been reasonably popular before the war took on real meaning when the young men began to enlist and head off to training camps, and eventually into battle conditions. One such song was the 1938 hit “I’ll Be Seeing You.” Wartime thoroughly changed the hit parade songs and other hit songs. “The White Cliffs of Dover,” “Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition,” “I left my Heart at the Stage Door Canteen” all made their appearance. One of the greatest tunes from the war was the Irving Berlin number “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas” which Berlin has been said to have written on a boiling hot day in 1942 in Los Angeles. Irving Berlin’s revue with an all-star cast, This is the Army opened on Broadway in July 1942 and it toured the country and. Berlin  himself stopped the show every night with his rendition of O How I hate to Get up in the Morning, in which he depicts soldiers wanting to kill the bugler. The show also had a march which has become a classic This is the Army Mr Jones. Songwriters became quite creative in their attempts to fit wartime sentiments in a 32-bar popular song. Some of the top songs of 1943 included “Do Nothin Till You Hear from Me,” “Have I Stayed Away Too Long,” and “You’d Be So Nice to Come Home To.” The year 1943 saw one interesting development on radio. Because of a musicians strike over revenues, for a time all instrumental music was banned from broadcast, leaving the airwaves to the sound of Capella voices. Typical of the time m famous singers recorded new arrangements of standards backed by a small choral group. One of the most beloved singers of the era was Peggy Lee who took a child’s nursery rhyme and turned it into a smash hit called “A Tisket and Tasket.” Hit songs of 1944 included “Spring Will be a Little Late this Year,” a song which originally appeared in an unsuccessful 1938 musical that experienced a sudden surge of popularity. The tune became Number 1 over ten times on the hit parade and all the great band leaders of the time went into the sound studios to make a recording, with the Frank Sinatra version featuring Tommy Dorsey winning the sweepstakes for most records sold. With the war’s end in 1945, the best songs came from Broadway. The upbeat songs captured the optimistic and hopeful attitude of the Allied countries. Songs like “Let It Snow,” “June is Busting Out All Over” and “It’s a Grand Night for Singing” led the charts. Popular music kept the morale of the people up and the servicemen and women were entertained and able to sustain a life-line to America. It was like no other period in history because the music was broadcast live or by transcription and wherever battles were fought the music was there to shine a light on the dismal scenes of war the men and women were experiencing. The songs and the music helped immeasurably to win the war.