Great Songs From The Great War (and other WW1 songs)

The use of song during WW1 has really stuck in my mind since my visit to Bowes Museum and I have decided to further this research into how during a time of such peril song was used to communicate inner emotions and worries as well as how the use of song was used to boost morale. One of the most surprising things about the music of the war is the upbeat nature of it, the songs such as “Its a long way to Tipperary” and “For me and my gal” have such a happy and hopeful tone I feel that they fully express the need to keep morale high during times of such insecurity when words alone may not have been enough. I feel as though the medium of song was used to convey the emotions of the soldiers leaving their loved ones but also as a battle cry before they set off on an uncertain future when leaving to fight for their country. Having done some internet research into songs of the period I have found an album named “Great Songs From The Great War”, an album of songs from WW1. Having listened to songs from this album several have stood out to me and could act as possible inspiration for what I produce from this internship. 

It’s a long way to Tipperary – What is possibly the most shocking thing about this song for me is not only its upbeat and happy sound but the fact that I remember the tune of  this song from my childhood and never knew the origins of it. This possibly shows how even today pieces of the WW1 still influence our lives, even in the subtlest of ways. 

For Me and My Gal – For me this was a song that showed the unexpected romance that could be found in the war period, how truly the one thing that kept the soldiers going was their plans for the future with their families.  Truly shows how every single solider who fought in WW1 was an individual, a human being with hopes and dreams for the future.  

Will You Remember? –  I feel like this one of the few songs that addresses the experience of the loved ones that the soldiers left behind. Their fears that time and space would separate them for too long. This could be something to further investigate. 

How Can I leave Thee? – This was a song that I came across when visiting the Bowes Museum when looking in the archives. What struck me was the sorrow in this song, a universal sorrow that every soldier must have felt having to leave their families to face an uncertain future.

Auld Lang Syne – As detailed on my last blog post I read a story in a newspaper from 1916 of a soldier who shot himself in the head on a train, leaving a letter for his wife that said amongst other things “Auld Lang Syne. God Bless.”. Since then this song has been in my head and I feel that I now have a new relation this song. It is no longer a song that represents the beginning of a new year but in fact is a phrase that was heavily used during the war as soldiers feared that they would be forgotten.