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American Music Goes To War,
World War One in American Song
Part 3:
Coming Home

This month we continue our series on the music of World War One. In the November Issue we reviewed the music leading up to the war and as America entered the war. Those songs expressed hope, optimism, good humor and excitement. In the December Issue we saw that once our soldiers were overseas and the reality of death and the destruction of war began to hit home, the overall nature of the music changed. Though we still had many songs of enthusiasm, patriotism and good cheer, more songs about the loss of life, destruction and concern began to appear. This month we will look at a return to happiness and optimism in the music after the Armistice was signed and the brave men and women of the services were coming home..

In addition to our featured works, we will be completing our major essay, also in three parts that reviews W.W.I as illustrated in 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 extract from her excellent commentary. Be sure to check out the essay on World War I music, part three, there are more songs to be seen and heard there too.

Don't forget to get your SCORCH player to fully experience the music at our site. 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. Download the Scorch player from Sibelius right now, then enjoy an astounding musical experience! The player is available for Mac and PC. Just click on the button below to go to the Sibelius site and get your free plug-in.
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ATTENTION WEB-TV USERS!
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.
We will continue to provide the midi versions of our music for you until we have explored all options.


When The Lilies Bloom In France Again
1918

Music by: George L. Cobb
Lyrics by: Robert Levenson
Cover artist: Starmer

(Note, all cover image links now require the "SCORCH" player to play the midi file)As we saw last month, even though we were deeply involved in the destruction of the war, thoughts of better days were always in our minds. Songwriters helped us deal with the terrible tragedies happening over there and led us to a look at happier days ahead. This song acknowledges the destruction but looks forward to days when it is all just a memory and life has resumed. With lines like "we'll all see the silver lining that will soon pierce the dark clouds through" and "bear in mind that after darkness must come the dawn", this song helped us realize that it had to be over eventually and blue skies will return again.

George Linus Cobb ( b. Mexico, New York on August 31, 1886, d. Brookline, Mass. December 25, 1942) was best known for his Ragtime works such as Russian Rag (featured in our Ragtime Edition in June, 1999). Educated at Syracuse University, he won a composition contest in Buffalo with the song Buffalo Means Business. He started out writing mostly Rags then moved to NYC and started writing songs in Tin Pan Alley. He went to work for Boston publisher Walter Jacobs and later became editor for Jacob's music magazine The Tuneful Yankee, later changed to Melody. and wrote a monthly column giving advice to would be songwriters. His first published Rag was Rubber Plant Rag, in 1909. That was followed by Canned Corn Rag in 1910 and Bunny Hug Rag in 1913. That same year he collaborated with the great Jack Yellen and wrote the hit song All Aboard For Dixieland. Cobb seemed to find a "zone" with the Dixie songs and wrote several other big hits with Dixie themes including the million seller, Alabama Jubilee in 1913 and a later hit Are You From Dixie? in 1915. The afore mentioned Russian Rag was written in 1918 and it too sold over a million copies and became a perennial vaudeville virtuoso favorite for many years. The song was such a hit that the publisher asked Cobb to write another Rag using the same Rachmaninoff prelude as a basis. Cobb then penned The New Russian Rag. Both Russian Rags are considered masterpieces and are still favorites of skilled pianists the world around.

This song shows the other side of Cobb's composing skills and demonstrates that he was not a "one hit wonder" and had the compositional skills to create a broad range of style of music.

Enjoy this Cobb song now (SCORCH format)

listen to MIDI version

Homeward Bound
1917

Music by: Geo. Meyer
Lyrics by: Howard Johnson and Coleman Goetz
Cover artist: Rose

Another song that anticipated the end of the war and the coming home is the hit song, Homeward Bound, not at all related to the 1966 Paul Simon hit song. This one was introduced by the great and popular vaudeville singer Emma Carus and as you will see by placing your mouse pointer over the cover, was reissued in other versions. Notice that the basic cover art was preserved in the second image shown and also notice that we have another performer claiming to have introduced the song, Harry Cooper. Both editions were published by Leo. Feist and I wonder if anyone at Feist noticed the conflict between the two? The question is; who really introduced the song? Obviously, there were no truth in advertising laws back then!

The song is a very nice ballad that speaks to the boys over there "fighting for you, fighting for me" and goes on to say that "some day they'll hear that welcome sound" (Homeward Bound). Again we have that look ahead to better days with the words; "tho' the skies seem gray, there's bound to be a brighter day." There is no doubt that all the hopes and dreams for America were focused on ending the war and getting everyone back home.

The composer, Geo. Meyer ( b. 1884, Boston, d. 1959, NYC) may be best known for his mega-hit, For Me And My Gal, written in 1917 but he wrote many, many wonderful songs that have added to our rich popular music heritage. He came to Tin Pan Alley in 1909 when Fred Mills published his first hit, Lonesome. He became his own publisher in 1912 publishing mostly Rags, several of which were very popular. Unfortunately, his publishing business folded in 1914 and he continued doing what he did best, writing hit songs. Though "Gal" is perhaps his most lasting hit, his biggest seller was Tuck Me To Sleep In My Old 'Tucky Home in 1921. In 1923, Meyer collaborated with the great Gus Kahn on the beautiful Sittin' in a Corner. His last hit was in 1942 with There are Such Things, co-written with Abel Baer and with lyrics by Stanley Adams

Hear this great Meyer Ballad(scorch format)

listen to MIDI version


They're Coming Back
1919
Music by: Sam Habelow
Lyrics by: Habelow
Cover artist: Unknown

Many people today may not realize the important role that the Salvation Army played in the War. Just as with the Red Cross, The Salvation Army not only supported the war effort but placed themselves in harms way at the front, to provide comfort, food and succor to our troops overseas. For more information, photos and two wonderful "Salvation Lassie" songs, be sure to check out our essay on World War One music, part 3. This song was actually published and distributed by the composer with proceeds benefiting the Salvation Army's "War Service Department". The song is a very upbeat celebration of the end of the war and cheers for the red, white and blue as well as the job our troops did in helping end the war. Mainly though it is a song that shouts from the rooftops, "They're Coming Back!". Though the cover is pretty simple, even amateurish, the music is great and the cause a good one.

The composer, Sam Habelow (Sgt.) is one of our many composers from the period where little is known about him. We do know that he wrote at least one other song at about this same time; Good-bye Sally, Good Luck To You. That song was also written for the benefit of the Salvation Army with the inscription; "Ex- Service men's $20,000 Drive for The Salvation Army" . That work also sold for 15 cents (it would take 133,333 copies sold to generate $20,000). It is probable, that like Daisy Erd from last month's feature, Mr. Habelow was inspired by the war and wrote only these two songs as a grateful serviceman for the unselfish service that the Salvation Army gave to the men and women who served in the war.

Listen to this musical celebration(scorch format only)

Listen to MIDI version

The Navy Took Them
Over And The Navy
Will Bring Them Back

1917

Music by: Ira Schuster
Lyrics by: Howard Johnson

Cover artist: Rose

So, the end had come and we were celebrating the return of our soldiers, so how were they going to get home? The Navy of course! What a great title and what a great cover photo. The photo is of the Battleship USS Oklahoma and her crew, looks like every man and officer as well as half of Oklahoma is hanging on to whatever they can grab. The Oklahoma, you may remember was sunk at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. She was launched in 1914 and commissioned at Philadelphia 2 May 1916, Captain Roger Welles in command. Oklahoma served in W.W.I along with the Nevada in protecting convoys in the North Atlantic. Between the wars she served in the Caribbean and Atlantic and then later was assigned to the Pacific fleet in 1940. She was based at Pearl Harbor from 6 December 1940 for patrols and exercises, and was moored in Battleship Row 7 December 1941, when the Japanese attacked. Outboard alongside Maryland Oklahoma took 3 torpedo hits almost immediately after the first Japanese bombs fell. As she began to capsize, 2 more torpedoes struck home, and her men were strafed as they abandoned ship. Within 2O minutes after the attack began, she had swung over until halted by her masts touching bottom, her starboard side above water, and a part of her keel clear. Many of her crew, however, remained in the fight, clambering aboard Maryland to help serve her antiaircraft batteries. Twenty officers and 395 enlisted men were either killed or missing, 32 others wounded, and many were trapped within the capsized hull, to be saved by heroic rescue efforts. She was later salvaged but sunk 540 miles out of Pearl Harbor, while being towed to San Francisco.

This song praises the role of the US Navy in the war. It recognizes their role in battle but also the incredible logistical challenge of transporting millions of men and equipment to Europe and back again. "On the sea, our sailor boys in blue; with their swift destroyers..they've been tried and true". and "Tho' the Army is the clover, 'Twas the navy took them over and the navy will bring them back!"

Hear this super Navy song(scorch)


Listen to MIDI version


I Don't Want To Get Well
1917
Music by: Harry Jentes
Lyrics by: Harry Pease, Howard Johnson
Cover artist: Rose

Of course the boys over there were all enthused about coming home..or were they? Here is one guy who not only wasn't ready to come home, but he didn't want to get well either. At least until his "beautiful nurse" was ready to go. This is a great novelty song from the war that makes light of being wounded and adds some humor to an otherwise worrisome situation. Here we have a wounded soldier who has fallen in love with his nurse and is enjoying all the pampering she gives him. He says to a friend back home in a letter; "She holds my hand and begs me not to leave her, Then all at once I get so full of fever, I don't want to get well." I know you will enjoy this cute and original song.

Harry Jentes ( b. NYC, 1887 d. NYC, 1958 )was largely known for his rags such as The Soup and Fish Rag of 1913 and The Rhapsody Rag of 1911. He did write a few songs of which this one is perhaps his most lasting composition. Early on in his career he was a vaudeville performer and performed on a number of piano rolls during the 20's.

Enjoy this great novelty song (scorch)

Listen to MIDI version

WAIT! There's More Music and Covers..go to part B.



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