I can remember a funny occasion that happened when I was around 13 years old. I was over at my grandparent's house and had staked claim to the television to watch my grandfather's collection of World War 2 movies. (He had quite a stash!) I can't remember what movie it was, but during one of the scenes the men were singing "Bless Em All". Granddaddy just happened to be walking by the television at that exact moment. He stopped for a minute and listened intently and then he started to laugh. This shocked me as Granddaddy did not laugh that often. Even in his 80s, he still maintained his military bearing from the War. I asked him what was so funny. He told me that he remembered that song very well, but that wasn't how they sang it at the time. I asked him what he meant. My grandfather, a devoutly religious man, then launched into the real version of the song which was actually called "F--k Em All". Oddly enough, it makes more sense that way. He told me that it was sanitized for release on the radio during the war but that wasn't how he remembered singing it. I've read that the same is true for the World War 1 classic, Mademoiselle from Armentiers. The soldiers sang a much more bawdy version than that which was recorded for posterity!
I've always been a fan of music and I use it as a teaching tool. I try to play as many songs from the time period that we are covering as I can. I call it teaching. My students may call it torture. Yesterday we listened to The Battle of New Orleans in my 1301 course. I know it isn't technically from the time period, but it is about the battle and is hilarious. Today, I taught/tortured my 1302 students with songs from the Second World War. I also showed them the Donald Duck cartoon "Der Fuehrer's Face". They thought that it was the funniest thing that they have ever seen. I would assume that it wouldn't be much different from kids who watched it when it debuted. I hope that at least gave them some connection with those of a previous generation.
Music that is popular during wartime can range from patriotic to sentimental to downright obscene! My grandfather was particularly fond of "I'll Be Seeing You". I remember him humming it from time to time while he was working around the house. If you were to ask me to name what my favorite period song would be, I would have a very hard time. The best I could do would be to break it down in the following way:
Civil War: Lorena
World War 1: tie between It's A Long Way to Tipperary and Mademoiselle from Armentiers
World War 2: F--k Em All, We'll Meet Again, Lili Marlene (German version)
So, Dear Readers, I leave you with this question. What is your favorite song from the Civil War through World War 2? Can you pick just one? I sure can't.
My name is Lee Hutch and I am a half a$$ historian!
Vera Lynn.....an amazing WW2 singer!