Posted by: Jim E | May 3, 2012

When The Lights Go On…The White Cliffs Of Dover…And Other Birds…Ahh…I Mean Music…

I came across a website that caught my interest…Retronaut…”The past is a foreign country. Here is your passport.”…at least that is the name on the top of the site…and I have spent some time there…if you like history…or if you don’t…this is a good spot to spend some time…of the things that caught my eye was a recording from the BBC during WWII…it was a recording of Nightingales…and at the same time bombers were flying just over them…you will have to read what goes along with the recorded sound…to put it in perspective…this was a yearly return to this spot to record the Nightingales singing…doesn’t seem compelling???…come on, remember this is your “passport to the past”…it was a visit to the place where they “first” recorded something out of the studio in 1924…and it had become a “hit”…so every year they returned…but what is amazing are the planes flying overhead, on their was to Mannheim, Germany…to drop bombs on that city…you have to put yourself in that time and place and play the recording…and think of the setting and men flying to war over head…here’s the website…try it, you may like this passport to the past…http://www.retronaut.co/2010/09/nightingales-and-bombers/ 

nightingales-and-bombers

So with that on my mind, there was a bit of a jog to another topic of the time…two songs that made a difference in the lives of people of the time…one of them I heard just the other day…”When The Lights Go On Again (All Over The World)”…it was a popular song composed during WWII…it was 1942 or 1943…written by Sol Marcus and Eddie Seiler…the song expresses the hope that the war would soon end…a number of people recorded this song…Vera Lynn, who I will talk about later…and Vaughn Monroe…his recording hit number one during that year…

The song alludes to the remark “The lamps are going out all over Europe. We shall not see them lit again in our time.”…this quote by Sir Edward Grey at the beginning of WWI…but this was especially true at the beginning of WWII…it was the Battle of Britain and all the bombing that went with it…so lights were turned off so it was more difficult to find the targets from the air…Britain suffered greatly from the bombing with many killed and injured…so this song was a song of hope and was uplifting to all of the allies in the war against Nazi Germany…

Another song that was especially popular in Britain but composed by two Americans, Walter Kent (who wrote “I’ll Be Home For Christmas”, also very popular WWII song) and Nat Burton…the song was also popular in America…”The White Cliffs Of Dover”…this was written in 1941…and was immensely popular as a song to uplift the spirits of the allies during the Battle Of Britain…much of Europe had been conquered by Nazi Germany and now they were trying to conquer Britain, the last stronghold of Europe…and while the “Bluebird” is not indigenous to Britain, but only in North America, the idea of “the bluebird of happiness” was all over the world…so though there were no bluebirds over the cliffs of Dover…there were German and British planes fighting over those same cliffs…

The song was recorded by many singers…but in Britain Vera Lynn’s version is still the most popular…I believe she is still alive…now in her late 90’s, she was known for many songs of that period…she also recorded “When The Lights Go On Again”…and many others…like “We’ll Meet Again”…(“We’ll meet again, don’t know where, don’t know when. But I know we’ll meet again some sunny day.”), a powerful song of that time…she was known as the “Forces Sweetheart” during WWII…one of Britain’s premier entertainers of that time…

No doubt this is full of nostalgia about those times…they were as special as many say they were…I knew many of those men and women from that time…they were a special group…and these songs bring back much of the memories of that time and the people who made those memories…we live today in a time that is so negative it seems…for every good feeling there are multitudes that tell you that you are stupid for feeling that way…but I still feel there was a “goodness” about that time…even though I know there were wrongs that needed to be righted…yet still a goodness about it…and far less rancor and violence than there is today…so I will continue to love those days…and I will share what I remember with you from time to time… 

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