Warning: these songs have not been bowdlerised, i. If you are offended by such language, it is suggested that you read no further. Some were taken up by soldiers in later wars and reworded accordingly.
'It's a long way to Tipperary'
The music of World War I is the music which was composed during the war or which is associated with it. In , music hall was by far the most popular form of popular song. It was listened to and sung along to in theatres which were getting ever larger three thousand seaters were not uncommon and in which the musical acts were gradually overshadowing all other acts animal imitators, acrobats, human freaks, conjurors, etc. The industry was more and more dominated by chains of theatres like Moss , and by music publishers, since selling sheet music was very profitable indeed—a real hit could sell over a million copies. The seats at the music hall could be very cheap and attracted a largely working class audience, for whom a gramophone would generally be too expensive. Although many ordinary people had heard gramophones in seaside resorts or in park concerts organized by local councils, many more would discover the gramophone while in the army, since gramophone manufacturers produced large numbers of portable gramophones "for our soldiers in France". The repertoire of songs was dominated by the jauntily comic. Humorous stereotypes of domineering wives or mothers-in-law, the bourgeoisie, foreigners, Blacks and Jews were often subjects of songs. Many more songs were made up of tongue-twisters or other comic elements. Sentimental love songs and dreams of an ideal land Ireland or Dixie in particular made up another major category.
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For a long time, historians did not study the popular music of — Perhaps it seemed trivial to concentrate on analysing entertainment during such a tragic period, when so many were living in deep fear at the Front, or waiting for a horrific telegram at home. When wartime popular music was mentioned, it was presented either as a form of spontaneous jingoism defending the Empire, or a morale-building way of putting on a brave face. Popular song does not reflect or illustrate history that is produced elsewhere, in muddy trenches or panelled ministerial chambers.
Ivor Novello , born in Cardiff, was only 21 when he wrote Keep the Home Fires Burning Till the Boys Come Home in , which touched all families at the outbreak of war with its hopeful message. It was an instant hit. After a stint in the Royal Navy Air Service, crashing two planes, he enjoyed a long postwar career as an actor, writer and composer of musicals. The Ivor Novello awards are named in his honour. The words of the song are by the American Lena Gilbert Ford, who was divorced and living with her son in London. Both were killed by a German air raid on London in March This cheery, upbeat marching song was written in by Welsh brothers Felix Powell an army staff sergeant and George Henry Powell who became a conscientious objector. In Oh! What a Lovely War it is sung, ever louder and with deepening emotion, as the first wounded soldiers from the battle of Mons arrive at Charing Cross station. Wilfred Owen used the refrain in his poem Smile, Smile, Smile , a sardonic reference to the false cheer of young soldiers heading out to the front, only to be felled.