A little while ago, for reasons unknown, I decided that I’d really like to hear a mix or podcast that contained both music and other audio from WW2 – news broadcasts, adversts, propaganda. I love this sort of thing – you just don’t hear enough catchy jingles these days, especially about buying bonds or saving your kitchen fat. Were these the hyper-annoying “Moonpig.com” and “Go Compare” jingles of the ’40s, and greeted with similar levels of irritation? We may never know. But what I can say for sure is that I’d prefer “Buy buy buy buy a bond!” to be parading incessantly around my head than “We. Buy. Any Phone. Any-any-any-any-any-phone.”
SO. Back on track: I looked high and low but couldn’t find exactly what I wanted, but what I DID find was countless interesting sound files and snippets of news broadcasts, so I decided to add it to my 1940s music playlist, and, well, voila. I gave a little shout-out on twitter and facebook recently and it seems I’m not the only one interesting in hearing this sort of thing. So I’ve mixed them together (rather clumsily, it seems my DJ older brother got the mad mixing skillz gene) and here’s what came out the other end. There’s a tracklisting and a bit about each song/audio below – the second mix will follow in another post. The mixes aren’t entirely chronological but I’ve tried to organise them to best make sense, and there’s a general timeline.
Here’s a tracklisting with a little bit about each song/audio clip if you’re interested.
01. Announcement of War – Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain.
02. Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition – Kay Kyser. Perhaps a little chirpy to follow such a somber announcement, but I love the line “can’t afford to be a politician”. Yay! Gung-ho! We’re on a “mighty mission”!
03. Intro to I Sustain The Wings – an American radio show broadcast as part of the recruitment effort, with Major Glenn Miller often at the helm.
04. American Patrol – Glenn Miller. How could I not put this in? Brilliant brilliant track. If you didn’t know, Glenn Miller is really the Big Daddy when it comes to swing and big band music. He led a band during the war and travelled around entertaining troops and keeping morale up at home. Sadly his plane was lost over the channel in 1944, and his body was never found.
05. A Boy in Khaki, A Girl in Lace – Dinah Shore. Dinah Shore has the most beautiful voice. I love this song because I am a right soppy so-and-so.
06. Join the WACs – Women’s Army Corps recruitment ad. If they had ads like this nowadays I’d join in a shot. Catchy.
07. Rosie the Riveter – The Four Vagabonds. This is another catchy one. I also think it’s charmingly amusing, in a massively sexist way, that women are tempted into war-work purely so they can help out their menfolk. No fighting for your country, justice or to defeat evil, missy! Do it for your boyfriend Charlie!
08. Message to the Women of Britain – Princess Elizabeth. Queen Elizabeth was a mechanic in the army in the war. Nice one, your madge.
09. The White Cliffs of Dover – Vera Lynn. Still going strong, is Vera Lynn. I had to include this one, as it’s one of those songs that most people know, even if they’ve never heard it.
10. Life in a blackout – a radio broadcast about London during the Blitz. The style of radio presenting is just brilliant. “Accounts of life at work – yes, and of play”.
11. Chatanooga-choo-choo – Glenn Miller. I love this song, so so much. It is the hold-music of my brain. When we were kids my older brother and I would put this on at our Grandparent’s house and run around the house to it till we passed out from exhaustion. That’s how we rolled in them days. This song also has the brilliant line “Dinner in the diner, nothing could be finer, than to have your ham and eggs in Carolina!”. I’ve never had ham and eggs in Carolina or otherwise, but one day, God-willing, I will.
12. Homefront Sacrifices – no idea where this came from. But I love it.
13. Oh Johnny Oh Johnny – The Andrews Sisters. You can’t have this kind of playlist without some Andrews Sisters. I love the almost pornographic sighing over lovely Johnny at the very end. “You’re not handsome it’s true, but when I look at you, I just Ooooooh Johnny!”. I also have a thing for songs with guys shouting out lyrics, so this ticks many boxes.
14. In Der Fuhrur’s Face – Spike Jones & His City Slickers. A brilliant way to fight injustice? Mock it. This song is just fantastic, as is the video that can be found on youtube of Spike Jones and his band performing this song – saluting “Der Fuhrer” with a backwards middle-finger.
15. Buy Buy Bonds – Bing Crosby. If you’ve seen the recent Captain America film, the “Star Spangled Man” bond drive song and dance number was based on this sort of thing.
16. I’ve Got a Girl in Kalamazoo – Glenn Miller. Brilliant lyrics: “everything’s oh-kay-ay-el-el-em-ay-zee-oh-oh!”. A catchy song that teaches you to spell!
17. Careless Talk – Listen out for what I’m presuming is supposed to be a Japanese accent, but actually sounds like Borat.
18. A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square – Anne Shelton. Another gorgeously soppy and romantic song.
19. Inside a London Air-Raid Shelter. No words. This is just awesome.
20. The Siegfried Line – Flannagan & Allen. Brilliant little piece of “up-yours” at the Nazis. Apparently they wrote a come-back. Didn’t quite have the same oomph.
21. Commentary on a Dog Fight. An amazing little snippet of history this. Incredible to think that this sort of thing was witnessed regularly in the skies over Britain.
22. Anvil Chorus – Glenn Miller. There were other big band leaders during the war. It’s just that none of them have featured in this mix yet. Love the frantic pace.
23. Snippet from GI Jive programme – “Shoot some mail to us, John-boooy!” Need I say any more?
24. Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen – The Andrews Sisters. A great little tune with brilliant lyrics. (Apparently translates from Yiddish as “To me you’re beautiful”)
25. It’s Only a Paper Moon – Benny Goodman. You know those other big band leaders I was talking about? Here’s one!
26. He Wears a Pair of Silver Wings – Kay Kyser. It’s a bit odd that this song is sung by a man. But hey, no one’s judging. RAF/USAF uniforms are hot.
27. Airbourne Troops Take Off – An amazing little snippet of a recording of the first Airborne troops taking off the night before D-Day. Obviously this couldn’t be broadcast until later as it was all top secret. I love this as I’m a huge Airbourne/Band of Brothers/101st/Easy Co junkie.
28. Goodnight Sweetheart – Al Bowlly. Another sleepy little romantic number to end on. For your own enjoyment, please try to separate it from the tv show of the same name starring Nicholas Lyndhurst.
This way to D-Day, and mix number 2!