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World War One As Illustrated On Sheet Music, Part Two



In part one of this series we looked at the issues before the war and some of the ways our music began to change as America entered the War. We saw that song played a prominent role in defining America's position(s) on the war and that the music publishing industry jumped into the fray with vigor and enthusiasm. As our boys went over there and the War developed, our music continued to change to reflect the situation. Patriotism still ruled as the number one topic for songs and the image of Uncle Sam appeared as never before. Songs such as Old Glory Over All featured Uncle Sam, the Flag and the image of millions of men marching off to war.

Stories of Uncle Sam's origins are varied. One interesting variation tells us that during the war of 1812, an honest old citizen of Troy, NY, was made inspector by the U.S. Government. He marked all goods that were passed with "U.S." The workmen in the area, not understanding that this stood for "United States" thought it referred to the old man who was lovingly called "Uncle Sam" by the area residents. So the term originated. During W.W.I artists used the image of Uncle Sam liberally. Always with the red, white and blue figuring prominently in the illustration. This cover The Old Flag's Calling You, from 1917 is but one example. I find the finger pointing to "you" with the title, an interesting twist on the "Uncle Sam Wants You" posters that appeared around this time. I wonder which came first? Click on the cover for the scorch version of this great old song. Web-TV viewers, click here for the MIDI version.

As the war developed, a number of themes for music predominated. Of course, patriotic themes continued to be important but with the boys away from home, focus shifted more to songs about family, including Mother and sweethearts, songs about the boy's well being (the prayer songs) and songs about letters to and from home. When it came to the action in the war, there was more of a tendency to focus on the humorous side of things. After all, we don't want to scare everyone at home into thinking their kids will be cannon mincemeat.

Regarding the mother songs, most focused on their valor, the fact that they are the strength of the country and the ones making the sacrifices (see Don't Take My Darling Boy Away From Me in our feature this month). In the song Joan of Arc, by Leo Woods, Woods says; of the mothers of France; "they have borne the burden of grief for many a day, Now other mothers sons enter the fray." Mothers are mothers around the world, all of them concerned for their poor sons no matter which side they were on, no matter how rich or poor. Alfred Bryan wrote in There's A Vacant Chair In Every Home Tonight; "In every mansion, every cottage all throughout the land, there's a mother's heart feeling blue." As the mothers at home were thinking of their sons, the sons were thinking of mom as well. One of the most poignant songs that address that issue is George L. Boyden's If I'm Not At The Roll Call, Kiss Mother Good-bye For Me, a soldier in fear for his life asks his buddy; "Tell he I know she loves me..and kiss her good-bye for me."

When the soldiers weren't fighting or writing to mom, they were thinking of their sweethearts and numerous songs were written that speak to the issue of the girl back home. Their dreams and thoughts about that special girl back home were expressed in songs like It's A Long Way to The U.S.A., and I Wonder If She Is Waiting In Her Old New England Town. One soldier remembers his sweetheart crying as he left but thinks ahead to when the war is over and his happy reunion in For Every Tear You've Shed, I'll Bring A Million Smiles. In Bye & Bye a soldier promises to bring sunshine and build a cottage for two. When he buys the lumber, "I'll give the stork our number Bye & Bye, Bye & Bye."

Likewise, the kids at home were important and many songs were written addressing that like this month's feature, Hello Central Give Me No Man's Land and Just a Baby's prayer at Twilight (For Her Daddy Over There), by M.K. Jerome, Sam M. Lewis and Joe Young. Here we have the writer speaking to how prayers can touch you but this child's prayer for their daddy made them cry. It is a sweet ballad that I'm sure touched many a heart. Web TV viewers, click here for the MIDI version. Other songs that focused on children and prayers were; Two Little Eyes Are Watching For Daddy To Come Home, Daddy, I Want To Go and Buy A Liberty Bond For The Baby.

The continued focus was on the issue of everyone will be fine, this war will end soon and I'll be home. In the meanwhile, the home front was an important part of the war effort and songs like last month's featured, Everybody Do Your Bit were important to keeping morale at home up and to keep the populace left behind motivated to help out. Soldiers had to be supplied and fed and mottoes such as "Food will win the war, don't waste it" appeared on many song sheets. Harry Von Tilzer made an urgent plea in The Man Behind The Hammer And The Plow; "Mechanic and Engineer, all honest sons of toil, the backbone of the world today, The man who tills the soil, It's up to him to win the battle now.." On the back of that music is a copy of President Woodrow Wilson's April 15, 1917 "Proclamation to the People;






"Do Your Bit For America"- 1918 A Proclamation by President Wilson to the American People
MY FELLOW COUNTRYMEN: The entrance of our own beloved country into the grim and terrible war for democracy and human rights which has shaken the world creates so many problems of national life and action which call for immediate consideration and settlement that I hope you will permit me to address to you a few words of earnest counsel and appeal with regard to them. We are rapidly putting our navy upon an effective war footing and are about to create and equip a great army, but these are the simplest parts of the great task to which we have addressed ourselves. There is not a single selfish element, so far as I can see, in the cause we are fighting for. We are fighting for what we believe and wish to be the rights of mankind and for the future peace and security of the world. To do this great thing worthily and successfully we must devote ourselves to the service without regard to profit or material advantage and with an energy and intelligence that will rise to the level of the enterprise itself. We must realize to the full how great the task is and how many things, how many kinds and elements of capacity and service and self-sacrifice it involves. These, then, are the things we must do, and do well, besides fighting—the things without which mere fighting would be fruitless: We must supply abundant food for ourselves and for our armies and our seamen, not only, but also for a large part of the nations with whom we have now made common cause, in whose support and by whose sides we shall be fighting.
THE THOUSAND NEEDS FOR VICTORY We must supply ships by the hundreds out of our shipyards to carry to the other side of the sea, submarines or no submarines, what will every day be needed there, and abundant materials out of our fields and our mines and our factories with which not only to clothe and equip our own forces on land and sea, but also to clothe and support our people, for whom the gallant fellows under arms can no longer work; to help clothe and equip the armies with which we are cooperating in Europe, and to keep the looms and manufactories there in raw material; coal to keep the fires going in ships at sea and in the furnaces of hundreds of factories across the sea; steel out of which to make arms and ammunition, both here and there; rails for worn-out railways back of the fighting fronts; locomotives and rolling stock to take the place of those every day going to pieces; mules, horses, cattle, for labor and for military service everything with which the people of England and France and Italy and Russia have usually supplied themselves, but cannot now afford the men, the materials, or the machinery to make. It is evident to every thinking man that our industries—on the farms, in the shipyards, in the mines, in the factories— must be made more prolific and more efficient than ever, and that they must be more economically managed and letter adapted to the particular requirements of our tasks that they have been; and what I want to say is that the men and the women who devote their thought and their energy to these things will be serving the country and conducting the fight for peace and freedom just as truly and just as effectively as the men on the battlefield or in the trenches.
SOLDIERS BEHIND THE FIRING LINE The industrial forces of the country, men and women alike, will be a great national, a great international, service army—a notable and honored host engaged in the service of the nation and the world, the efficient friends and saviors of free men everywhere. Thousands—nay, hundreds of thousands—of men otherwise liable to military service will of right and of necessity be excused from that service and assigned to the fundamental, sustaining work of the fields and factories and mines, and they will be as much part of the great patriotic forces of the nation as the men under fire. I take the liberty, therefore, of addressing this word to the farmers of the country and to all who work on the farms: The supreme need of our own nation and of the nations with which we are cooperating is an abundance of supplies, and especially of foodstuffs. The importance of an adequate food supply, especially for the present years is superlative. Without abundant food, alike for the armies and the peoples now at war, the whole great enterprise upon which we have embarked will break down and fail. The world's food reserves are low. Not only during the present emergency, but for some time after peace shall have come, both our own people and a large proportion of the people of Europe must rely upon the harvests in America.
WHERE THE FATE OF THE WAR RESTS Upon the farmers of this country, therefore, in large measure rests the fate of the war and the fate of the nations. May the nation not count upon them to omit no step that will increase the production of their land or that will bring about the most effectual cooperation in the sale and distribution of their products ? The time is short. It is of the most imperative importance that everything possible be done, and done immediately, to make sure of large harvests. I call upon young men and old alike and upon the able-bodied boys of the land to accept and act upon this duty—to turn in hosts to the farms and make certain that no pains and no labor is lacking in this great matter. I particularly appeal to the farmers of the South to plant abundant foodstuffs, as well as cotton. They can show their patriotism in no better or more convincing way than by resisting the great temptation of the present price of cotton and helping, helping upon a great scale, to feed the nation and the peoples everywhere who are fighting for their liberties and for our own. The variety of their crops will be the visible measure of their comprehension of their national duty. The Government of the United States and the governments of the several States stand ready to cooperate. They will do everything possible to assist farmers in securing an adequate supply of seed, an adequate force of laborers when they are most needed, at harvest time, and the means of expediting shipments of fertilizers and farm machinery, as well as of the crops themselves when harvested.
A DEMOCRACY' S CHANCE TO MAKE GOOD The course of trade shall be as unhampered as it is possible to make it, and there shall be no unwarranted manipulation of the nation's food supply by those who handle it on its way to the consumer. This is our opportunity to demonstrate the efficiency of a great democracy, and we shall not fall short of it ! This let me say to the middlemen of every sort, whether they are handling our foodstuffs or our raw materials of manufacture or the products of our mills and factories: The eyes of the country will be especially upon you. This is your opportunity for signal service, efficient and disinterested. The country expects you, as it expects all others, to forego unusual profits, to organize and expedite shipments of supplies of every kind, but especially of food, with an eye to the service you are rendering and in the spirit of those who enlist in the ranks, for their people, not for themselves. I shall confidently expect you to deserve and win the confidence of people of every sort and station. To the men who run the railways of the country, whether they be managers or operative employees, let me say that the railways are the arteries of the nation's life, and that upon them rests the immense responsibility of seeing to it that those arteries suffer no obstruction of any kind, no inefficiency or slackened power. To the merchant let me suggest the motto, "Small profits and quick service," and to the shipbuilder the thought that the life of the war depends upon him. The food and the war supplies must be carried across the seas, no matter how many ships are sent to the bottom. The places of those that go down must be supplied, and supplied at once.
STATESMEN AND ARMIES HELPLESS WITHOUT MINERS To the miner let me say that he stands where the farmer does—the work of the world waits on him. If he slackens or fails, armies and statesmen are helpless. He also is enlisted in the great service army. The manufacturer does not need to be told, I hope, that the nation looks to him to speed and perfect every process; and I want only to remind his employees that their service is absolutely indispensable and is counted on by every man who loves the country and its liberties. Let me suggest, also, that every one who creates or cultivates a garden helps and helps greatly, to solve the problem of the feeding of the nations- and that every housewife who practices strict economy puts herself in the ranks of those who serve the nation. This is the time for America to correct her unpardonable fault of wastefulness and extravagance. Let every man and every woman assume the duty of careful, provident use and expenditure as a public duty, as a dictate of patriotism which no one can now expect ever to be excused or forgiven for ignoring.
THE SUPREME TEST HAS COME In the hope that this statement of the needs of the nation and of the world in this hour of supreme crisis may stimulate those to whom it comes and remind all who need reminder of the solemn duties of a time such as the world has never seen before, I beg that all editors and publishers everywhere will give as prominent publication and as wide circulation as possible to this appeal. I venture to suggest, also, to all advertising agencies that they would perhaps render a very substantial and timely service to the country if they would give it widespread repetition. And I hope that clergymen will not think the theme of it an unworthy or inappropriate subject of comment and homily from their pulpits. The supreme test of the nation has come. We must all speak, act, and serve together !
WOODROW WILSON. THE WHITE HOUSE, April 15, I9I7


Wilson's excellent advice would serve us well today, war or not, some of his points are important for us to consider in our everyday lives.

On the front itself, a huge role was played by the Red Cross. Family and friends at home who were worrying about their loved ones were grateful to The Girl Who Wore A Red Cross On Her Sleeve; little Mary Brown who grew up as a tom boy but; "Now She's Over There, giving up her life at duty's call..and the ones who used to sneer, are the first ones now to cheer, and the little good for nothing's good for something after all." One of the greatest classic Red Cross songs is The Rose of No-Man's Land, by James A. Brennan and Jack Caddigan published by Feist in 1918. Click the cover to listen and see the lyrics using the scorch player, or Web-TV users, click here for the MIDI. This song is a tribute to the Red Cross Nurse who; "Mid the war's great curse stand the Red Cross Nurse, she's the rose of No Man's Land."

The honorable and long tradition of the Red Cross cannot even begin to be addressed in this short monograph but a short history may be in order. During the Italian War of 1859, the French and Sardinians fought a bloody battle with the Austrians. Casualties amounted to an enormous 30,000 dead and wounded. With this in mind, in 1862 John Henry Dunant suggested forming neutral voluntary aid societies for the relief of war victims. A Swiss welfare agency took up the idea and in a conference, the Geneva convention of 1864 for the amelioration of the condition of the wounded and sick of armies in the field was adopted. The Swiss flag (the red cross) reversed became the symbol of humane and neutral treatment for war wounded and sick. Another very important agency that played a role in the war, mainly at home and after the war, at homecoming, was the Salvation Army. I will look at some songs related to their contribution in our third and final installment of this series next month

The American people were a resilient and patriotic lot during that war and the second world war that would follow in only a few years. Our music (and as well, that of other countries too) help the population and the soldiers cope with the horror and pain of war. As mentioned earlier, few songs truly addressed the realities of the war as our featured War Babies and a few others. One that did so, and pointed the way to a future without the war was the 1917 song by Harry Andrieu with E.J. Pourmon and Joseph Woodruff, After The War Is Over, Will There Be Any Home Sweet Home?". Click on the cover for the scorch version or Web-Tv viewers, click here for the MIDI version. In this song they speak of; "Angels weeping..many a heart aching..many a home vacant..many a child alone" and the change that will take place in the landscape and our lives. The cover art itself depicts death and destruction. Though it is likely this song offered little comfort to anyone about the fate of our soldiers, it does speak to the end of the war and a brighter time in our "Home Sweet Home." An odd note about this song; the inside shows music by Andrieu and lyrics by Pourmon & Woodruff. The cover shows Woodruff as the composer and Pourmon as lyricist. I think the cover is in error.

On that note, we will close this month's edition. Next month, we will look at other aspects of the music of World war One and look at the music that celebrated the end of the War and the homecoming of our soldiers. To return to our featured music this month, click here.

In Memorium, for all who lost their lives for our freedom.



This article is in three parts, now that you have read part two, move on to part three.

If you missed part one, or want to return to it, click here for part one.

December, 2000

A major source for much of the text discussion is from Variety Music Cavalcade, A History of Popular Music in America and the aforementioned Ann Latella article. All sheet music covers and songs are from the ParlorSongs collection. See our references page for details of our complete bibliography used for research for this and other essays in this series. This article as well as all content of the ParlorSongs site is copyrighted. We ask that you respect our work and contact us if you want to use any of this material.



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