Saturday, November 10, 2012

Military Torch

Andrews Sisters
Kate Smith Rosemary Clooney
Clockwise: The Andrews Sister; Rosemary Clooney; and Kate Smith.

Since tomorrow is Veteran's Day, a day set aside to celebrate the lives and deeds of all the brave men and women who have offered a bit of their own lives to maintain the freedoms we so love in the United States. Since this year it is falling on a Sunday, it is being celebrated as a holiday on Monday, November 12, 2012. However, I thought Saturday night would be the perfect time to celebrate it 'Soundtrack' style, with music. For my money, I think some of the great songs I think of when I think about the military are from the 1940s, making it exactly right for tonight's blog. First up, we have a song written by Phil Moore, and made popular by the amazing Andrews Sisters in 1944. "Shoo Shoo Baby" was not so much a story of the soldiers involved in the war, but does mention the child of a soldier, trying to tell them where their father is.

There is such a longing, a melancholy that is just so present in the song "I'll Be Seeing You." The song was published by Sammy Fain and lyrics by Irving Kahal in 1938. Originally written for a Broadway musical that closed after just 15 performances, "I'll Be Seeing You" was recorded by some of the greatest artists of the time, including Billie Holiday and Being Crosby. It became huge in the 1940s, with loved ones at home identifying with the song, the gaping hole left when someone you care about is away from home. Enjoy the version, sung by the beautiful Rosemary Clooney.

There was another song that spoke to those family members left at home. It was written in 1941 by Walter Kent and Nat Burton, and a hit in the UK when sung by the great Dame Vera Lynn in 1942. It was inspired by thoughts of British pilots in their planes, returning to their homeland, flying over the Dover shoreline. In the United States, Kate Smith was one of many to sing "(There'll Be Bluebirds Over) The White Cliffs Of Dover" and make it their own.

Of course, whenever I am thinking of songs dedicated to members of the armed services, the first one to come to mind is the one sung by the glorious Andrews Sisters, the jazzy "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy." The song was written by Don Raye and Hughie Prince in 1940, a year before the Second World War broke out. It was, of course, made famous by the Andrews Sisters the following year, after singing it in 'Buck Privates,' starring Abbott & Costello. It was brought back into popular culture in 1972, when it was on the album called 'The Divine Miss M' by the incomparable Bette Midler. But I like to go back to the original, with the Andrews Sister.

Happy (early) Veteran's Day!

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