Music is powerful. Even a quick study of how it affects the brain is fascinating, but it doesn’t take a degree to see the way that shared music creates connections between people. Music inspires, gives opportunities for personal expression, aids memorization, reduces stress…there are many reasons why my family has a very large collection of albums.
When telling stories set in a specific period of history, music can be a wonderful addition to the story. While finding ways to legally include musical lyrics is a complicated process (seriously, I wouldn’t recommend it) just the mention of familiar tune titles (which ARE legal) can spark recognition in the reader, adding to the mood or enhancing the setting.
As you may have guessed by this lead-in, I reference some songs in my soon-to-be-released novel, Where Shall I Flee?. As part of this week’s special series of posts, I would like to share a couple of them with you. I hope that you enjoy learning a bit of musical history and giving the songs a listen!
(There’ll Be Bluebirds Over) The White Cliffs of Dover
The first piece that I’m featuring today is “(There’ll Be Bluebirds Over) The White Cliffs of Dover.” The words were written by Nat Burton and the music by Walter Kent, but one might argue that the person who made the song famous was Vera Lynn.
Vera Lynn had been singing publicly since age 7 (when her last name was “Welch”) and had recorded her first solo song in the late ’30s. During the war years she had her own BBC radio show, “Sincerely Yours,” and recorded songs like “We’ll Meet Again” and “The White Cliffs of Dover” that captured wartime sentimental longings for home, family, and peace. She also joined the ENSA (something like the American USO) and travelled to entertain troops in Egypt, Burma, and India. She was known as “The Forces’ Sweetheart.”
In 1975, she became “Dame” Vera Lynn, and in 2009 became the oldest living artist to have a #1 album in England. She passed away in 2020 at the age of 103. If you’d like more information about this remarkable lady, here is a link to her obituary.
Blues in the Night
The second song is one that I first became familiar with as an occasional bit of background music in Looney Tunes shorts. However, the bunny, duck and their friends were not the original owners of the song “Blues in the Night.”
Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer created “Blues in the Night” for an upcoming film. The song was nominated for a 1942 Academy Award and was so well received that the film wound up changing its name to “Blues in the Night” as well.
The song was recorded by a number of artists and their bands including Artie Shaw, Woody Herman, Cab Calloway (with Dizzy Gillespie), and Benny Goodman—and that was just in 1941 and 42. There have been numerous versions since then, and a few other during the era that I didn’t mention. No wonder it was familiar enough to make it into animated entertainment!
I’ve selected a recording of Benny Goodman’s orchestra featuring Peggy Lee on vocals.
As a curiosity, here is the trailer for the FILM “Blues in the Night.”
What do you think of these pieces? Were they familiar to you before? Does anyone else remember the Loony Tunes Connection?
Below is information on the Book Launch Giveaway that I am currently running. If you’re interested in entering, please read on. If not, thank you for stopping by!
- Two participants have a chance to win one of these pieces of WWII Allied Military Currency, a red poppy enamel pin, and a FREE copy (e-book or signed paperback) of my new novel, Where Shall I Flee?
- One participant will win these items and ALSO win a copy of Ruth G. Haskell’s book, Helmet’s and Lipstick, which tells about her experiences as a WWII U.S. Army nurse.
How to Participate
- Due to the complexities of international giveaway laws (not to mention shipping costs,) these prizes are limited to American citizens only. (Sorry.) Also, if you are under 18, you must have parental or guardian permission to participate. Void where prohibited.
- To enter, either comment on this blog post, or on my Facebook page with the words “Count Me In.”
- If you do not use Facebook or have difficulty commenting on WordPress (I’ve run into troubles sometimes) you may also send me an e-mail through my Contact page.)
- You may comment on all of the “launch posts” this week to be entered multiple times. Just one entry per day though, please.
- On launch day, November 1, I will put all of the entries into a hat and have a fair and impartial person (i.e. one of my kids) draw the names of the winners. I will post the names both on the blog and on Facebook. (If a name is drawn twice, we will redraw.)
- If you enter, please stop by the blog or Facebook page to check to see if you are a winner and find out how to claim your prize.
- **If I don’t hear back from winners by November 6th, I will redraw.**
AND if you’re wondering just what my upcoming book is all about, here’s the cover and the blurb!
Lieutenant Jean Hoff of the U.S. Army Nurse Corps and infantryman Corporal George Novak have never met, but they have three things in common.
They are both driven by a past they’d rather leave behind.
They have both been sent to the embattled beachhead of Anzio, Italy.
And when they both wind up on the wrong side of the German lines, they must choose whether to resign themselves to captivity or risk a dangerous escape.
Where Shall I Flee? follows their journey through the dangers of World War II Italy, where faith vies with fear and forgiveness may be necessary for survival.
4 thoughts on “Musical Interlude Double Feature: “The White Cliffs of Dover” and “Blues in the Night””
During my own research and writing, I’ve been struck by the fact of how young most of the service personnel were during WWII. Most were 19 (some, esp. those who lied about their age to get into service, were even younger) to 22 years old. This is an age when music is especially memorable (and sentimental) to someone. I think the enemies (both German and Japanese) recognized this, and that’s why their primary propaganda radio personalities–Lord Haw Haw, Axis Sally, and Tokyo Rose–featured popular American music on their broadcasts, knowing that impressionable young men would be listening. The music was, in fact, their primary reason for listening. They reflexively rejected the propaganda. COUNT ME IN!
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I hadn’t thought about how age factored in, but that certainly makes sense! For my grandparents’ 50th anniversary, I learned “their song” from this era on piano, “Sentimental Journey” 🙂 Music was one of those things, too, that could bind people together. Soldiers far from home could hear familiar songs which ‘took them back,’ loved ones might be humming the same tunes far away… Thanks for the interesting point about the propaganda broadcasts, too!
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This makes so much sense! When I think about how much we cling to the music of our teen years to help us through difficult moments, of course music would be a logical subject of study for the young soldiers entering a truly terrifying realm only to go home when…well, when the terror was over.
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Both of these songs were new to me, but they really help you step back. 🙂
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