*Somewhere in France is Daddy *So Long Mother *What Are You Going to Do to Help the Boys? ============== These 78 rpm phonograph recordings were made during World War I in support of the war effort. They are acoustical (recorded mechanically through a horn) and were originally played back on horn-type phonographs. I acquired them as a teenager in the 1950s from a junk store for 5 cents a piece by buying a couple a week. (If I bought more, the store owner -- noting that demand was up -- would raise the price to a dime.) The songs are divided into 17 YouTube clips. Part 1 contains the iconic "Over There." However, listeners may be struck by the fact that many of the songs are lighthearted and na?ve about war, even comic. "We're All Going Calling on the Kaiser" in Part 1 is typical of this tendency. Another example is Part 7's "When Alexander Takes His Ragtime Band to France." The most extreme example is Part 6's "I Don't Want to Get Well" in which someone is eager to go to war and be shot so he can meet a beautiful nurse. (World War II songs were generally not so lighthearted; too many people remembered World War I.) There is a great deal of love of mothers in these recordings. Perhaps the most extreme example from this era before Freudian notions penetrated the U.S. is Part 3's "So Long Mother" in which the singer says while others have girlfriends, his only sweetheart is his mother. Of course, some soldiers were married with children. For example, there are two recordings of "Somewhere in France is Daddy" (Parts 3 and 17) and others reflect children longing for daddy overseas such as "My Daddy's Star" (Part 16). And there are references to girlfriends: Part 8 contains two. "I'm Going to Pin My Medal on the Girl I Left Behind" and "Don't Try to Steal the Sweetheart of a Soldier." The U.S. had many immigrant groups, some of which came from the enemy side. In "Let's All Be Americans Now" such groups are reminded that they must now be loyal to the U.S. The U.S. also had a large Irish population which was not necessarily sympathetic to the idea of fighting along with Britain. (Ireland was still controlled by Britain.) Some songs are designed to appeal to the Irish, e.g., "Where Do We Go From Here?" (Part 12). There were still Civil War veterans around at the time of World War I and efforts were made to appeal to both the north and south. "That's a Mother's Liberty Loan" makes a northern Civil War reference (Part 11). "The Dixie Volunteers" obviously refers to the south (Part 9). Finally, "They'll Be So Proud in Dixie of Their Old Black Joe" was probably intended to appeal to African Americans (but its racial stereotype probably did not). Several songs refer explicitly to France, such as "Goodbye Broadway, Hello France" (Part 2 and 12). Belgium is also depicted as a victimized country, e.g., "Belgian Rose" (Part 16). Some suggest activity on the homefront for non-soldiers, e.g., "What Are You Going to Do to Help the Boys?" (Part 3).
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