Popular music has always been a form of creative expression. During World War I, songs were written to express a variety of emotions – for example, love, homesickness or patriotism – and were used as morale boosters for soldiers and on the home front. Music also served as a means of spreading wartime propaganda. (This post is a companion piece to Melina Druga’s WWI Trilogy, Angel of Mercy, Those Left Behind and Adjustment Year, available wherever eBooks are sold.)
Songs were sung in music halls, at parties or at home. Thanks to the sale of sheet music and disk records, these songs were as easy to distribute as they were to learn.
The following are five songs popular during the war. Click play to hear the recording.
If You Were The Only Girl In The World (love song)
“Sometimes when I feel bad
and things look blue
I wish a girl I had… say one like you.
Someone within my heart to build her throne
Someone who’d never part, to call my own”
Over There (rally cry)
“Johnny, get your gun, get your gun, get your gun.
Take it on the run, on the run, on the run.
Hear them calling you and me,
Every Son of Liberty.
Hurry right away, no delay, go today.
Make your Daddy glad to have had such a lad.
Tell your sweetheart not to pine,
To be proud her boy’s in line.”
A Conscientious Objector Sung (pokes fun at conscientious objectors)
“Perhaps you wonder what I am,
I will explain to you,
My conscience is the only thing,
That helps to pull me through.
Objection is a thing that I
Have studied thoroughly,
I don’t object to fighting Huns,
But should hate them fighting me.”
Take Me Back To Dear Old Blighty (homesickness)
“Jack Dunn, son of a gun, over in France today,
Keeps fit doing his bit up to his eyes in clay.
Each night after a fight to pass the time along,
He’s got a little gramophone that plays this song”
The Rose Of No Man’s Land (an ode to nurses)
“I’ve seen some beautiful flowers,
Grow in life’s garden fair,
I’ve spent some wonderful hours,
Lost in their fragrance rare;
But I have found another,
Wondrous beyond compare.”
Updated: 16 October 2020