American Music Goes To War,
World War One in American Song
Part 1:
A Call To Arms, Going to War

November 11, 1918 at 11:11 AM, the "War To End All Wars" ended after tragic loss of life and horrific destruction. Since November is the anniversary of the Armistice, we begin this month with a feature series that will span at least the next three months that chronicles the American popular music that came out of the war. There is so much great music that came out of the war, we feel we need at least three months to even begin to present to you how the music evolved and so you can enjoy a broad sampling of the wonderful tunes that were inspired by the patriotic fervor the war generated.

In addition to our featured works, we will be presenting a major essay, also in three or more parts that reviews W.W.I music. The essay includes extracts from an article written by Ann Pfeiffer Latella, granddaughter of E.H. Pfeiffer (go to our Back Issues page to see our Feb., 2000 E.H. Pfeiffer issue and essay). The article was originally printed by "Remember That Song" in Glendale, AZ. Remember That Song is an organization dedicated to sheet music collecting and you can join them by contacting them at 5821 N.67th Ave., Suite 103-306, Glendale, AZ 85301. We appreciate the gracious permission of Ms. Latella and Lois from Remember That Song for permission to reprint her excellent commentary. Be sure to see the essay on World War I music, there are more songs to be seen and heard there too.

This month we continue our new format for the presentation of our music, SCORCH. Scorch is a plug in for your browser that will allow you to not only listen to our songs but to view the playing, real time on sheet music WITH LYRICS! Though we often find plug-ins to be annoying, this is one that we guarantee will be well worth the time to download and install.

It won't be much longer that will provide midi versions so be sure to get the scorch player now as all music from here on out will be in the Sibelius format. So, to get started, download the Scorch player from Sibelius right now, then enjoy an astounding musical experience! The player is available for Mac and PC so all of you can enjoy the experience, regardless of platform! The player is free and only takes a minute to download once you get to the Sibelius site, click on the "scorch" menu item to download. Just click on the button to go to the Sibelius site and get your free plug-in

We want to continue to provide you with access to our music. We know that the Scorch player will not work with WEB-TV and are working on an alternative way for you to continue to listen to our music.
Much of our design of this site was done with WEB-TV in mind and we appreciate all of you and your visits to our site. Please be assured, we want you to continue to enjoy ParlorSongs so please keep visiting us. We will continue to provide the midi versions of our music for you until we have explored all options.

Tipperary Guards

Music by: E.T. Paull
Lyrics by: none, piano solo
Cover artist: Starmer

(Note, all cover image links now require the "SCORCH" player to play the midi file)Of course, long before America entered the war, our friends on the continent and in England had been fighting a bitter war for many weary years. America entered the war quite late, really at a point where most of the real work had been done. Prior to our entry into the war there was substantial antiwar sentiment and the president (Wilson) and most politicians worked very hard to spare our neutrality. England entered the war in September of 1914 and in April of 1915, President Wilson declared he would keep America out of the war. For two years, America stayed on the sidelines while the war raged in Europe.

The Tipperary Guards was written in 1915 as a tribute to the British troops who were fighting the war. Of course, Tipperary is in Ireland and the Tipperary Guards (actually, the Guards of The Tipperary Militia) in Ireland were much like a local militia or National Guard. As such, they were mainly used for local disturbances but were called up to the Army at times of National need. W.W.I was certainly such a need and the Guards were called up and served honorably.

The cover is an atypical Paull work cover. Done by Starmer, the work was originally issued with a more colorful "Paull" lithograph cover and this copy is a reissue with different artwork. For more information about ET Paull and to see other covers by him, visit our June, 1998 issue featuring more works by Paull (not in scorch format). We will probably do another, more in depth edition about Paull as we have acquired a great deal more of his music over the years. The music is typical Paull with use of just a few themes and repetition, Paull manages to squeeze a lot of out very little. This work is less complex than some of his earlier works, I suspect to appeal to a wider range of pianistic skills and sell more copies. His music could be described as formulaic and is considered by some to be rather common. In spite of that, this is a joyful march and his music was extremely popular and is today, some of the most sought after sheet music for collectors. Most bring at least $20 and some of the rarer ones have been known to bring well over $100.

Listen to this wonderful Paull march (SCORCH format)

listen to MIDI version

Don't Take My Darling
Boy Away


Music by: Albert Von Tilzer
Lyrics by: Will Dillon
Cover artist: De Takacs

It was not just the politicians who wanted to stay out of the war, early on most of the public was vehemently against joining the war. It was not our war, it was someone else's war and it did not concern us was the prevailing opinion. The US had been recently involved in a number of conflicts the most prominent of which were the Spanish American War of 1898 - 99, The Philippine War (1899 - 1901) and involvement in Panama, China (The Boxer Revolution) and various Central American countries in the "Banana Wars".

As a result, many Americans were war weary and wanted to just curl up in a corner and hide. We often think of this period as one of romantic patriotic fervor (that came later) but at first, very few of us wanted this war. Perhaps no song from the period is more emphatic in it's declaration of anti war sentiment that this one. As you will see, the mother is pleading for no more involvement. She has already made the supreme sacrifice through the loss of a husband and three other sons and wants no part of additional conscription. The song is also a strong statement about who really suffers in time of war, not only the soldiers who make the ultimate sacrifice, but also the civilians and the mothers and families at home who lose loved ones. As with most music related to war, the song is a march by the great Albert Von Tilzer. The vast majority of the songs written during wartime are in the military march style however there are some excellent exceptions we will enjoy as this series progresses over the next three months.

Hear this great antiwar march song (scorch format)

listen to MIDI version

Liberty Bell (It's Time To Ring Again)
Music by: Halsey K. Mohr
Lyrics by: Joe Goodwin
Cover artist: Barbelle

By 1916, sentiment in America began to turn towards support for the war. A number of atrocities, particularly, the unlimited submarine war that resulted in the sinking of the unarmed (disputed) liner Lusitania in May of 1916 has begun to turn the tide. Despite this, Wilson continued to vow noninvolvement until April of 1917. By May of 1916, more and more people were pressing to join the war and Wilson began threatening Germany with US involvement. Finally relenting, the US declares war on Germany in April of 1917 and the flood gates open up for war inspired music. The patriotic fervor and musical creativity that followed was perhaps one of the greatest creative period in 20th century popular music.

This song is a call to arms, a wake up song to stir us to join in and carry on the strong military tradition of the country. Through a call to the bell, the message is clear that we all must join in and come together to defeat the foe. The song is not a march but rather a more traditional song of the period. It has a nice melody and great lyrics. The cover is rather plain but conveys a strong image of tradition and country. Betsy Ross, The Flag, George Washington and the Liberty Bell, what a powerhouse combination of images. Now where did I put that gun?

The composer, Halsey K. Mohr was a moderately successful composer of the period. He also wrote Piney Ridge in 1915 with Ballard MacDonald and They're Wearing 'Em Higher In Hawaii, in 1916, a great comedy song that was very popular with vaudevillians including the great Eddie Cantor and Al Jolson. During the earlier years of the war while antiwar sentiment was high, Mohr was one of the few composers who wrote patriotic, pro-war music with several songs to his credit such as Played by A Military Band in 1915.

Listen to this musical call to arms (scorch format only)

Listen to MIDI version

America Here's My Boy
Music by: Arthur Lange
Lyrics by: Andrew B. Sterling

Cover artist: Andre De Takacs

What a difference a declaration of war makes. Once the US entered the war, as with many things, we entered feet first and with an intensity that was incredible. The entire nation was mobilized in a matter of weeks and the public sentiment was full of patriotism and desire to go beat the pants off the Kaiser and his minions.

In extreme contrast to Don't Take My Darling Boy Away, this mother is not only prepared to sacrifice one son, but a raft of them if she had them. At this stage of the war, reality was not an issue. Americans believed that with their entry into the war, the Germans would scurry away and the war would be won with nary a bullet being spent. The heady patriotism and braggadocio was so strong, the soon to die soldiers could see nothing more than an easy time of it. It is good that soldiers approach war with such an attitude but I have always wondered why they can not see that the most likely outcome of being in a war is death. I guess youth and optimism rules. It would not be long before reality would set in and the nature of the war effort as well as the songs would change.

Again, we have a military march style song designed to get the blood flowing and to sir patriotism. Regardless of how we feel about war, you have to agree that the war brought out the best in American (and other country's) composers and lyricist. This song is surely one of the greatest "going to war songs" written.

The lyricist, Andrew B. Sterling (b. 1874, New York City, d. 1955, Stamford, CT) is perhaps one of the greatest American popular song writers from the period. His most lasting partnership was with the great Harry Von Tilzer but he wrote numerous songs in collaboration with other composers such as Lange. Lange was a successful song composer for many years and went on to write motion picture scores culminating in his Oscar nominations in 1943 and 1944 for his songs "The Woman in the Window" and "Casanova Brown".

Hear this patriotic mother's song (scorch)

Listen to MIDI version

Long Boy
Music by: Barclay Walker
Lyrics by: William Herschell
Cover artist: Gaar Williams

Still full of optimism, our boys began to say good-bye and there were a number of good-bye songs written in 1917. This one is perhaps the most humorous of them and portrays the continuing innocence about the realities soon to strike home. A novelty song, Long Boy (So Long Boy) is one of the more memorable to come out of the period, at least from a cover art standpoint. This cover is one of the best novelty song covers ever painted, in my humble opinion. Though the song title on the cover is Long Boy, the official title of this song is Good-bye Ma!, Good-bye Pa! Good-bye Mule!

Musically and lyrically , this is also one of the best novelty songs in my collection. The story is of a naive country boy going off to war and the words and music clearly convey that message. When you listen, you can almost hear the chickens in the yard and the "hicksville" twang in the speech. A totally entertaining and well done song. Barclay Walker, 1859-1927, an Indiana born composer also collaborated with his daughter, Mary Josephine (Walker) Wolff. to write several other songs, however this is his most lasting work.

Enjoy this great novelty song (scorch)

Listen to MIDI version

We hope you are enjoying this month's feature. For more great songs about World War I go to part B.

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