Songs of World War I
A small sampling of the songs of the Great War and resources for finding more.
"It's a Long Way to Tipperary." Popular during the war, this British music hall song refers to Tipperary, a small town in Ireland far from the battles of the Great War. It's not a rousing let's-go-war song. Rather it's a song that longs for home.
It's a long way to Tipperary,
Along similar lines is "Keep the Home-Fires Burning ('Till the Boys Come Home)."
Keep the Home Fires Burning,
"Pack All Your Troubles (In Your Old Kit Bag)" was written in 1915 and used to boost morale.
Pack up your troubles in y2our old kit bag,
"Slavic Woman's Farewell"
Written by the Russian composer Vasily Agapkin in 1912 during the Balkan wars, this patriotic march grew popular during the Great War. The song often was played as Russian soldiers marched off to war.
The most popular French song of the war was "La Madelon," a song of yearning for a young woman.
"Mademoiselle from Armentières" was a song popular with French troops in the 1830s. It became popular again, especially in America, during World War I. Below are the American lyrics:
The first Marine, he found the bean, parlez vous.
George M. Cohan and Irving Berlin, two of America's popular songwriters, wrote songs during the war.
"Over There" is one of Cohan's most famous songs. The cover for the song was illustrated by Norman Rockwell, who became famous later for his covers for the magazine The Saturday Evening Post.
Over there, over there,
Irving Berlin also composed a number of songs during the war.
Oh! how I hate to get up in the morning,
The song spawned many parodies, describing life in the Army.
You're in the Army now,
Another popular song, "How Ya Gonna Keep 'em Down on the Farm (After They've Seen Paree)?," reflected a real social concern in American life, as after the war, more Americans began migrating to cities.
"Hello Central, Give Me No Man's Land" tells about a child, whose father has been killed in the trenches of the war, who uses the telephone to call him. The song was made popular by Al Jolson, an entertainer of the era, in the play Sinbad.
Hello Central, give me no man's land
Before America entered the war in 1917, quite a few songs opposed going to war. The most popular song was "I Didn't Raise My Boy to Be a Soldier."
I didn't raise my boy to be a soldier,
Three outstanding collections of the music of the Great War can be found at:
The Voices And Music Of World War I
Miller Nichols Library, University of Missouri, Kansas City
World War I Sheet Music
Brown University Library Center for Digital Scholarship
Popular Songs of World War I
Cylinder and Preservation Project, Donald C. Davidson Library, University of California, Santa Barbara