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Author Topic: Songs of the WWI era  (Read 9785 times)

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Bob Michel

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Re: Songs of the WWI era
« Reply #20 on: August 20, 2015, 08:57:22 AM »

Lillibulero (sp?) is a tune of the era (and probably older)  and was sung to by the WWI soldiery, as a toddler I remember my grandfather singing something to it and being told 'not in front of the boy' by grandma, whereon he would continue in whistling mode, I never found out what the song was, presumably something a bit off colour - any ideas ?

Interesting thread on mudcat http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=31970#417879 and http://www.traditionalmusic.co.uk/ww1-songs/ which you may well have checked already.

Thanks for the Mudcat link; I don't think I'd seen that discussion, actually.

As for Lillibulero (variously spelled), the tune's sometimes attributed to Henry Purcell, though it's probably older than that. The most common lyrics ("Ho, brother Teague, dost hear the decree...") date to the late seventeenth century. Historically they're a red flag to Irish Catholics (as they were intended to be), but they're not risqué. There's a mildly racy parody (which I've never heard) quoted in the discussion at https://thesession.org/tunes/1069.

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Chris Ryall

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Re: Songs of the WWI era
« Reply #21 on: August 20, 2015, 09:03:36 AM »

Slight risk of off-topicity creeping in - I've never been told Lillibularo was anything but English Civil war era (1640s) and wiki says first published in 1661. Nevertheless it is one of the the most robust songs in history (BBC World Service used it up to about 1995) and had military roots. I'd be surprised if it didn't get sung in those trenches. Ditto  Bogle's stuff, 1960s(?), so a bit late for those Tommy's. Eric was utterly on the simple soldier's side;  I don't think the public might  have stomached eg "Band played Waltzing Mathilda" in the WW1 era - but how things change?

The Ottomans, long enemies of Russia, threw in against "our side" and that … might … be the reference of Grandad's 'adults only' song.

T'was xmas eve at the harem

  It was Christmas Eve in the harem, the eunuchs all standing there,
  A hundred dusky maidens, combing their pubic hair.

  When along came Father Christmas, striding down the marble halls,
  Sayin' "what do you want for Christmas lads?  The eunuchs answered, "Balls!"


There are numerous web sites including https://www.phil.muni.cz/angl/gw/warww.html with "Oh what a Lovely War" lyrics. Mudcat also good. Personally I've long done "Hanging on the front line wire" every October, and "Band played Waltzing Mathilda" …  April obviously.
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Bob Michel

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Re: Songs of the WWI era
« Reply #22 on: August 20, 2015, 09:06:21 AM »

A few favourites to add to the list.

  • Roses of Picardy
  • Long Long Trail
  • The Rose of No mans land
  • Keep the Home Fires Burning
  • Nearer My God to Thee
  • Sister Susie's Sewing Shirts For Soldiers
  • Mademoiselle from Armentières

Plus these somewhat less familiar ones, which I've already recorded (sans squeezebox) for YouTube:

"Somewhere in France Is the Lily" http://youtu.be/g7dRTox_P1k
"Oh! Frenchy" http://youtu.be/HgT8NIggcnE
"The Last Long Mile" http://youtu.be/etKBX_ksoAc
"Stay Down Here Where You Belong" http://youtu.be/4WsGCnwFedQ
"The War in Snider's Grocery Store" http://youtu.be/LZOc1DCIXlo

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Chris Ryall

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Re: Songs of the WWI era
« Reply #23 on: August 20, 2015, 09:39:07 AM »

Why thanks, ALL are unfamiliar! Took me a little while to sample them all. Interesting both in a different cadences to the music, and also a quite different lyrical perspective from a Nation that (other than for "Somewhere in France" … was not yet in the war. Most of our Tommy songs seem to be either from Music Hall  - or parodies of the same.  You must include "when this Bloody War is over" which is to the "what a friend we have in Jesus" tune, and would well suit your voice with concertina.

I'm recently back from 'over there' incidentally. Montreal in particular zings with song of all kinds, we even had a Vaudeville night! The Canadian Regiment's museum at London Ontario barracks has a whole room on their (immediate) mobilisation for WW1, but its music section is all … military stuff. 

(Their room on the 1812 war was also "interesting" and was about something virtually unknown here. All British eyes were then on Moscow, with Napoleon's campaign there another rich source of popular song)
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Bob Michel

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Re: Songs of the WWI era
« Reply #24 on: August 20, 2015, 10:04:17 AM »

Interesting both in a different cadences to the music, and also a quite different lyrical perspective from a Nation that (other than for "Somewhere in France" … was not yet in the war.

A lot of the Yank songs have a vaudeville pedigree. It's a fascinating moment in American musical history. Ragtime is everywhere, white people are just becoming aware of this thing called "the blues," and jazz will come roaring out of New Orleans in about five minutes. The whole country has a marching band fetish that predates the war by decades, but the rhythm section is just starting, ever so slightly, to swing. Somewhere I read a period account (probably from a few years earlier) of the knowing but nervous laughter in the crowd when John Philip Sousa's band launched into the raggedy cakewalk "Smokey Mokes" (Sousa reportedly hated ragtime, but he was after all a working musician). Everything that rises must converge, as some Frenchman said.

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Broadland Boy

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Re: Songs of the WWI era
« Reply #25 on: August 21, 2015, 02:12:12 AM »

Thanks both, no cigar yet on Lily B lyrics but enormous thanks for leading me to another that he used to sing (and which I used to enjoy immensley, probably on 'Uncle Mac'), being 'Abdul Abulbul Amir', which I discover has a less celubrious pre WW1 version and two daughter versions by Frank Crumit (I've also re aquainted meself with his 'and the pig got up and slowly walked away' isn't youtube and its many uploaders wonderful  ;D

BTW I heard Eric Bogle perform his 'Walzing Matilda' at the RSL club in Coolangatta in the mid 50's, normally the audience overtalked any 'act' - you could have heard a pin drop, he followed up with a newish song he was bedding down, 'He's Nobody's Moggy Now', to much the same reaction and some uncomfortable looks  ;D.

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Bob Michel

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Re: Songs of the WWI era
« Reply #26 on: August 24, 2015, 08:16:47 PM »

Back to 1917, this time for a well-known number that sounds as if it came from a world very remote from the War. Which it did, though of course that was about to change in a very big way.

http://youtu.be/FyKE2N7EQVg

Further details are at http://www.concertina.net/forums/index.php?showtopic=17935&page=2#entry171659.

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Broadland Boy

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Re: Songs of the WWI era
« Reply #27 on: August 25, 2015, 01:19:21 AM »

That works nicely Bob

I suppose that in terms of pre recorded music the era of the recorded voice was probably still the province of the 'better heeled' while the various barrel, disk & roll playing playing weapons of mass destruction would be the main source of tunes for the great unwashed so the making up of lyrics, ribald or otherwise, was perhaps more the norm than repetition of an existing song and tune which came later ?

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Richard A
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Bob Michel

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Re: Songs of the WWI era
« Reply #28 on: August 25, 2015, 02:24:53 AM »

I suppose that in terms of pre recorded music the era of the recorded voice was probably still the province of the 'better heeled' while the various barrel, disk & roll playing playing weapons of mass destruction would be the main source of tunes for the great unwashed so the making up of lyrics, ribald or otherwise, was perhaps more the norm than repetition of an existing song and tune which came later ?

A Tin Pan Alley song like this one was probably performed in vaudeville revues, and distributed on 78 rpm records, cylinders (winding up their run, but still around in 1917), piano rolls and--most widespread and probably cheapest of all--sheet music. A Victrola was a prized piece of cabinetry, more impressive as a status symbol than a typical piano. But amateur performance in the home hadn't quite been displaced by mechanical reproduction, and radio wasn't a factor yet.

In middle class households with access to one or more of those formats, repetition was surely the goal. Only where Tin Pan Alley songs were passed along by word of mouth did the Folk Process set in. When I first immersed myself in American old-time music back in the '70s, I was drawn to all the clever novelty songs sung by performers like Uncle Dave Macon and Charlie Poole, which I assumed were spontaneous and homegrown. Only much later did I realize how many of them had started life in a New York City song factory. Not that that matters, really: once reworked by "folk" performers they're often hard to recognize, and sometimes better than the originals.

On the other hand, some of those "folk" performers would be bemused to hear us describing them that way; in their own time they were just trying to be professional musicians...

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« Last Edit: August 25, 2015, 02:32:48 AM by Bob Michel »
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Bob Michel

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Re: Songs of the WWI era
« Reply #29 on: August 28, 2015, 09:50:33 AM »

One more offering this week, the frothy but formidably titled "Would You Rather Be a Colonel with an Eagle on Your Shoulder or a Private with a Chicken on Your Knee?"

http://youtu.be/R2PI49aTa_4

Details at http://www.concertina.net/forums/index.php?showtopic=17935&page=2#entry171770.

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Bob Michel

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Re: Songs of the WWI era
« Reply #30 on: August 31, 2015, 01:52:45 PM »

And here's one of the more famous WWI songs, at least on this side of the Atlantic: Al Piantadosi and Alfred Bryan's "I Didn't Raise My Boy To Be a Soldier" (1915).

http://youtu.be/Zfl7QBVDmNs

Further details at:

http://www.concertina.net/forums/index.php?showtopic=17935&page=2#entry171791

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Jack Campin

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Re: Songs of the WWI era
« Reply #31 on: August 31, 2015, 03:15:37 PM »

A song from WW1 that actually mentions a free-reed instrument - "Mizika calindi" ("the mouth organ was played"), a bleak Turkish song about the defeat of the troops sent to Yemen on the Mesopotamian front:

http://www.turkuler.com/nota/ezgi_mizika_calindi_yemen_turkusu.html
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TiAMdq_nrTs

It's a folk song, not a commercial number, and there are innumerable variants (of the words: the tune usually stays the same).  A Turkish/Armenian collaboration:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J3oUIx1VtMw

There are LOTS of Turkish songs about the war, but I have yet to see one that has anything like the patriotic boosterism of the well known English-language ones.  This particular one is seen to have present-day relevance given what Turkey is getting dragged into.
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Jack Campin

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Re: Songs of the WWI era
« Reply #32 on: August 31, 2015, 03:27:41 PM »

Meanwhile, more songs from the other side.  Lyrics only, but I guess the tunes shouldn't be hard to find.

http://www.volksliederarchiv.de/lieder-nach-zeit17.html

The country that lost the most people during the war was Russia, and they must have songs about it.  Anybody?
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Bob Michel

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Re: Songs of the WWI era
« Reply #33 on: August 31, 2015, 03:30:44 PM »

A song from WW1 that actually mentions a free-reed instrument - "Mizika calindi" ("the mouth organ was played"), a bleak Turkish song about the defeat of the troops sent to Yemen on the Mesopotamian front

That's marvelous (if bleak), and the period images are just haunting. Thanks for posting the links.

I wish I had the language skills to follow the lyrics, but I suspect that that's going to have to be a project for another lifetime.

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Bob Michel

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Re: Songs of the WWI era
« Reply #34 on: August 31, 2015, 03:35:26 PM »

Meanwhile, more songs from the other side.

Thanks, Jack; these are terrific (and in this instance I can even make some sense of the words!).

Even the commercial, American songs can be pretty hard to come by, so hearing these other voices is a real treat.

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Bob Michel

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Re: Songs of the WWI era
« Reply #35 on: September 04, 2015, 11:34:13 AM »

One more song from the period just after the war, the first in this series (though probably not the last) by Irving Berlin.

"I've Got My Captain Working for Me Now":

http://youtu.be/bu2ykWcNMdc

Further details at:

http://www.concertina.net/forums/index.php?showtopic=17935&page=2

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Bob Michel

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Re: Songs of the WWI era
« Reply #36 on: September 09, 2015, 10:36:49 PM »

Here's "I Wonder Who's Kissing Her Now," a familiar old chorus radically transformed (to my ear) by the restoration of long-forgotten verses:

http://youtu.be/bvnoFF_-r3E

As usual, more details can be found across the hall:

http://www.concertina.net/forums/index.php?showtopic=17935&page=3

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Jack Campin

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Re: Songs of the WWI era
« Reply #37 on: September 09, 2015, 11:55:43 PM »

This site has a LOT, wide-ranging and very well organized:

http://www.firstworldwar.com/audio/

I used it a couple of years ago to put together a compilation for an old folks home - worked really well, but I then mislaid the link.
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Bob Michel

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Re: Songs of the WWI era
« Reply #38 on: September 10, 2015, 12:00:54 AM »

This site has a LOT, wide-ranging and very well organized

That is indeed a wonderful site; thanks for the link.

I've been enjoying this one, too, though it's not musical in orientation:

http://ww1blog.osborneink.com

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Bob Michel

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Re: Songs of the WWI era
« Reply #39 on: September 15, 2015, 05:10:24 PM »

Entry #9 is a sentimental song of a type very popular in those years. "Three Wonderful Letters from Home" scored a big hit in 1918.

http://youtu.be/OuZtthwi9ug

Details are at:

http://www.concertina.net/forums/index.php?showtopic=17935&page=3#entry172311

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