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Modern History Sourcebook:
There'll Always Be An England
and other War Music


Although First World War poets [Rupert Brooke, Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon] are often presented as the literature of wartime, popular songs were important in keeping up morale.  Those from World War II have become especially well known.

Some songs were overtly nationalistic, such as There'll Always Be An England. Other music was popular because it evoked emotional states common in wartime, for instance a sense of nostalgic sadness and loss. Perhaps the most famouse such song was Lili Marlene, uniquely famous as a hit both for German and Allied armies.

In Britain, without any question, the most popular vocalist of World War II was Vera Lynn, "the forces' sweetheart".  She sang virtually every well-known wartime song in her concerts (including Lili Marlene and There'll Always Be An England), but her best know songs were White Cliffs of Dover and We'll Meet Again.

These songs give only a hint of the variety of wartime music. Other music popular included a variety of "silly" songs and some lush instrumental compositions.


There'll Always Be An England

I give you a toast, ladies and gentlemen.
I give you a toast, ladies and gentlemen.
May this fair dear land we love so well
In dignity and freedom dwell.
Though worlds may change and go awry
While there is still one voice to cry - - -

There'll always be an England
While there's a country lane,
Wherever there's a cottage small
Beside a field of grain.
There'll always be an England
While there's a busy street,
Wherever there's a turning wheel,
A million marching feet.

Red, white and blue; what does it mean to you?
Surely you're proud, shout it aloud,
"Britons, awake!"
The empire too, we can depend on you.
Freedom remains. These are the chains
Nothing can break.

There'll always be an England,
And England shall be free
If England means as much to you
As England means to me.

words & music: Parker & Charles
copyright: Unknown


Lili Marlene

Lili Marlene was based on a poem written  German soldier Hans Leip during World War I (in 1915), and published in 1937.  Norbert Schultze set the poem to music in 1938 and it was recorded just before the war. It became a favorite of both German troops when it was broadcast to the AfrikaKorps in 1941. The immense popularity of the German version led to a hurried English version done by Tommie Connor and broadcast by the BBC for the Allied troops. Eventually, both sides began broadcasting the song in both versions, interspersed with propaganda nuggets. The German singer was Lale Andersen , an anti-Nazi. But the most celebrated singer was another anti-Nazi German - Marlene Dietrich, began to sing it in 1943. The English version of the song embellishs an already sentimental German original. After the war, the song's fame was perpetuated by Vera Lynn who sang it in every NAAFI concert she gave for British BAOR (British Army of the Rhine) soldiers stationed in pre-NATO Germany, to thunderous applause and stomping feet.

Link to Lili Marlene - a page with the music, and recording of Dietrich singing the song.

German

English

Vor der Kaserme vor dem großen Tor
stand eine Lanterne
und steht sie nach davor
so wollen wir da uns wieder sehen
bei der Lanterne wollen wir stehen
wie einst Lili Marlen

Unsere beide Schatten sahen wir einer aus
daß wir so lieb uns hatten
daß gleich man daraus
und alle Leute sollen es sehen
wie einst Lili Marlen

Schon rief der Posten,
sie blasen zapfenstreich
es kann drei Tage kosten
Kamrad, ich komm so gleich
da sagten wir auf wiedersehen
wie gerne wollt ich mit dir gehen
mit dir Lili Marlen

Deine Schritte kennt sie, deine Zierengang
alle abend brennt sie,
doch mich vergaß sie lang
und sollten mir ein leids geschehen
wer wird bei der Lanterne stehen
mit dir Lili Marlen?

Aus dem Stillen raume, aus der erder Grund
heßt mich wie un Traüme
dein verliebster Mund
wenn sich die Spaten nebel drehn
werd'ich bei der Lanterne stehen
wie einst Lili Marlen
Underneath the lantern by the barrack gate,
Darling I remember
the way you used to wait,
'Twas there that you whispered tenderly,
That you loved me,
You'd always be,
My Lili of the lamplight,
My own Lili Marlene.

Time would come for roll call,
Time for us to part,
Darling I'd caress you and
press you to my heart,
And there 'neath that far off lantern light,
I'd hold you tight,
We'd kiss "good-night,"
My Lili of the lamplight,
My own Lili Marlene.

Orders came for sailing
somewhere over there,
All confined to barracks
was more than I could bear;
I knew you were waiting in the street,
I heard your feet,
But could not meet,
My Lili of the lamplight,
My own Lili Marlene.

Resting in a billet
just behind the line,
Even tho'we're parted
your lips are close to mine;
You wait where that lantern softly gleams,
Your sweet face seems to haunt my dreams,
My Lili of the lamplight,
My own Lili Marlene.

Marlene Dietrich sang a variation on the lyrics.

When we are marching
in the mud and cold,
And when my pack seems
more than I can hold,
My love for you renews my might,
I'm warm again, My pack is light,
It's you Lili Marlene, It's you Lili Marlene...


White Cliffs of Dover 1942

Words by Nat Burton and Music by Walter Kent

Although in Britain (There'll Be Bluebirds Over) The White Cliffs Of Dover was most associated with Vera Lynn, in the US Kay Kyser and His Orchestra (vocal by Harry Babbitt) took it to a peak Billboard position of #1 in 1941-42. Four other competing versions also made the Top 20: Glenn Miller (#6); Kate Smith (#9); Sammy Kaye (#11); and Jimmy Dorsey (#15).

Link to a Real Audio Clip from PBS [You will need the free RealAudio Player to hear this. Click to download].

There'll be bluebirds over the white cliffs of Dover
Tomorrow, just you wait and see
There'll be love and laughter and peace ever after
Tomorrow when the world is free

(The shepherd will tend his sheep)
(The valley will bloom again)
And Jimmy will go to sleep
In his own little room again

There'll be bluebirds over the white cliffs of Dover
Tomorrow, just you wait and see

<instrumental interlude>

There'll be bluebirds over the white cliffs of Dover
Tomorrow, just you wait…and see

 

We'll Meet Again 1939

Words and Music by Ross Parker and Hughie Charles

In Britain this was Vera Lynn's song. In the US Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians took it to a peak Billboard position # 24 in 1941. Kay Kaiser also hit # 24. with it, and Benny Goodman hit # 16 in 1942. Vera Lynn's version made it to the US charts (#29) in 1954, and also appeared on the soundtrack of the film Dr. Strangelove in 1964.

We'll meet again
Don't know where
Don't know when
But I know we'll meet again some sunny day

Keep smilin' through
Just like you always do
Till the blue skies drive the dark clouds far away

So will you please say hello
To the folks that I know?
Tell them I won't be long
They'll be happy to know
That as you saw me go
I was singing this song

We'll meet again
Don't know where
Don't know when
But I know we'll meet again some sunny day

<instrumental to end>


Other World War II Hits in Britain


The Warsaw Concerto

Music: Richard Addinsell

The Warsaw Concerto was the theme music in an British movie of 1941 (not released until after the war in the US, where it was called Suicide Squadron!), Dangerous Moonlight. The Rachmaninov-like theme became an instant success all over the world.


O mio babbino caro ["O dearest Daddy"]

from Giacomo Puccini: Gianni Schicchi 1919 (words, Gioachino Forzano)

An English version of this song became a huge wartime hit.

Link to modern singer's version [WAV file]


Run rabbit run - Flannegan & Allen

Words by Noel Gay & Ralph Butler. Music by Noel Gay


Run rabbit - run rabbit - Run! Run! Run!
Run rabbit - run rabbit - Run! Run! Run!
So run rabbit - run rabbit - Run! Run! Run!

Run rabbit - run rabbit - Run! Run! Run!
Don't give the farmer his fun! Fun! Fun!
He'll get by without his rabbit pie
So run rabbit - run rabbit - Run! Run! Run!


When the Lights Go On Again All Over the World

Written by Eddie Seller, Sol Marcus, and Bennie Benjamin

Vaughn Monroe and His Orchestra too it to a US # 1 in 1943, and a competing version by Lucky Millinder hit # 12. This was a mid-WW2 song. The title refers to the practice of having to black out possible bombing targets and to avoid back-lighting targets for bombs.

<intro-muted cornets and trombones>

When the lights go on again all over the world
And the boys are home again all over the world
And rain or snow is all that may fall from the skies above
A kiss won't mean "goodbye" but "Hello to love"

When the lights go on again all over the world
And the ships will sail again all over the world
Then we'll have time for things like wedding rings and free hearts will sing
When the lights go on again all over the world

<instrumental break>

When the lights go on again all over the world


I'll be seeing you - The Ink Spots/Bing Crosby

Words by Irving Kahal, music by  Sammy Fain

This version, by The Ink Spots, did not chart but in 1944, Bing Crosby took it to # 1 and Tommy Dorsey managed # 4. Later adopted by Liberace as his theme song.

I'll be seeing you in all the old familiar places
That this heart of mine embraces all day through
In that small café, the park across the way
The children's carousel, the chestnut trees, the wishing well

I'll be seeing you in every lovely summer's day
In everything that's light and gay
I'll always think of you that way
I'll find you in the mornin' sun
And when the night is new
I'll be looking at the moon
But I'll be seeing you

------ instrumental break ------

I'll find you in the mornin' sun
And when the night is new
I'll be looking at the moon
But I'll be seeing you


In the mood - Glenn Miller & his Orchestra

Words by Andy Razaf, music by Joe Garland
Glenn Miller (#1 in 1940),  and again at #20 in 1943


Who's the lovin' daddy with the beautiful eyes
What a pair o' lips, I'd like to try 'em for size
I'll just tell him, "Baby, won't you swing it with me"
Hope he tells me maybe, what a wing it will be
So, I said politely "Darlin' may I intrude"
He said "Don't keep me waitin' when I'm in the mood"

First I held him lightly and we started to dance
Then I held him tightly what a dreamy romance
And I said "Hey, baby, it's a quarter to three
There's a mess of moonlight, won't-cha share it with me"
"Well" he answered "Baby, don't-cha know that it's rude
To keep my two lips waitin' when they're in the mood"

In the mood, that's what he told me
In the mood, and when he told me
In the mood, my heart was skippin'
It didn't take me long to say "I'm in the mood now"

In the mood for all his kissin'
In the mood his crazy lovin'
In the mood what I was missin'
It didn't take me long to say "I'm in the mood now"

<instrumental interlude>

So, I said politely "Darlin' may I intrude"
He said "Don't keep me waitin' when I'm in the mood"

<instrumental interlude>

"Well" he answered "Baby, don't-cha know that it's rude
To keep my two lips waitin' when they're in the mood"

Who's the lovin' daddy with the beautiful eyes
What a pair o' lips, I'd like to try 'em for size
I'll just tell him, "Baby, won't you swing it with me"
Hope he tells me maybe, what a wing it will be
So, I said politely "Darlin' may I intrude"
He said "Don't keep me waitin' when I'm in the mood"

First I held him lightly and we started to dance
Then I held him tightly what a dreamy romance
And I said "Hey, baby, it's a quarter to three
It's a mess of moonlight, won't-cha share it with me"
"Well" he answered "Baby, don't-cha know that it's rude
To keep my two lips waitin' when they're in the mood"

 


Source:


This text is part of the Internet Modern History Sourcebook. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts for introductory level classes in modern European and World history.

Unless otherwise indicated the specific electronic form of the document is copyright. Permission is granted for electronic copying, distribution in print form for educational purposes and personal use. If you do reduplicate the document, indicate the source. No permission is granted for commercial use of the Sourcebook.

© Paul Halsall, July 1998
halsall@murray.fordham.edu