May 8, 2013
In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.
Previous contributors include Bret Easton Ellis, Kate Christensen, Kevin Brockmeier, George Pelecanos, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Myla Goldberg, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.
Cate Lineberry's The Secret Rescue offers an often overlooked perspective of World War II, through the eyes of nurses and medics. Their experience trapped behind enemy lines is both compelling and suspenseful in this well-researched and thoughtfully told book.
The Daily Beast wrote of the book:
"The book combines all of the elements that draw us to WWII stories: the daring of The Guns of Navarone, the suspense of The Great Escape, and the bravery reminiscent of Ill Met by Moonlight. It’s the inclusion of so many women, though, that makes this story unique. It’s always good to be reminded that by no means did men have a monopoly on grace-under-fire during the world’s greatest conflagration."
My book The Secret Rescue: An Untold Story of American Nurses and Medics Behind Nazi Lines tells the true story of the months-long struggle of thirty American men and women to escape the brutal dangers of war-torn Albania in the winter of 1943-44 and the heroes who helped save them. It's a story of survival and relentless determination at a time when the entire world was in chaos, and those both at home and abroad looked to music for inspiration and comfort. The playlist below represents just a handful of the countless songs that stirred patriotism and hope during World War II and the fascinating stories behind them.
"Lili Marlene": The bittersweet song was first written in 1915 as a poem by Hans Leip, a 22-year-old German solider missing the woman he loved. He published a collection of his poems in 1937, including "The Song of a Young Sentry," as a reminder of the pain of war, and German composer Norbert Schultze wrote a melody to accompany it. After singer Lale Anderson made a recording of it in 1939, the song was banned in Germany, and she and Shultz were charged with "moral sabotage." When a radio station charged with broadcasting to German troops in North Africa was shelled and had only a few surviving records, it played "Lili Marlene," despite the ban. The song was a hit with German troops and Field Marshal Rommel, and it soon caught on with Allied troops in Africa. A British publisher unhappy that Allied soldiers were singing a German song decided to make an English version of it, though he altered the translation, and by 1943, anti-Nazi Marlene Dietrich was performing it throughout Europe.
"God Bless America": Irving Berlin, one of the most prolific writers of popular patriotic songs during World War II, originally wrote "God Bless America" during the summer of 1918 for the stage hit "Yip, Yip, Yaphank" but the song was never incorporated into the all-soldier revue. Two decades later, he made some changes to it and offered it to singer Kate Smith, who performed it on her regular radio program on November 11, 1938, in honor of the 20th anniversary of Armistice Day. It was soon the country's most popular patriotic song, surpassing even the Star-Spangled Banner. Smith became known for the song and went on to raise more than $600 million in war bonds during radio campaigns, while Berlin dedicated all royalties from the hit to the Boy and Girl Scouts of America. Four years later, with America fully engaged in World War II, "This Is The Army," Berlin's updated version of "Yip, Yip, Yaphank," opened on Broadway. The show and the movie version, released in 1943, raised nearly $10 million for the Army Emergency Relief and also created the Word War II hit song "This is the Army, Mr. Jones."
"The Army Air Corps": When the Air Corps was looking for an official song to inspire its airmen in 1938, Liberty, a popular magazine, sponsored a competition with a $1,000 prize. Unhappy with the first round of submissions, the committee of Air Corps wives appointed to choose the winner extended the contest's initial deadline. Just two days before the new cut-off date, Robert Crawford, a musician and amateur pilot known as the "Flying Baritone," personally submitted his winning entry. The song was unanimously chosen and was officially introduced in September 1939 when Crawford sang it at the Cleveland Air Races. The song became even more popular when its words and melody were used in Moss Hart's Broadway play "Winged Victory" and the subsequent movie. Some three decades later, the first and only all-Air Force space crew carried a page of Crawford's score aboard the Apollo 15 "Falcon" lunar module when it traveled to the moon on July 30, 1971.
"Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition": Frank Loesser, a future Broadway songwriter and composer, was serving in an Army radio production unit in 1942 when he wrote "Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition." He adapted the song from a reportedly true story of a chaplain aboard a U.S. Navy ship at Pearl Harbor who had walked the ammunition line yelling the famous words. The song became one of the first hits of the war. The Merry Macs' recording of it in 1942 reached the number eight spot on the Billboard chart, and when Kay Kyser and His Orchestra sang it in 1943, it reached number one. Loesser, who eventually produced more than 700 songs for Broadway, Hollywood, and radio, gave the royalties from the World War II hit to the Navy Relief Society.
"Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy": By late 1937, the Andrews Sisters, who would perform in more USO shoes than any other entertainers, besides Bob Hope, had their first smash hit with a Yiddish song, "Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen." In January 1941, nearly a year before the United States entered World War II, they appeared in their second film, an Abbott and Costello vehicle, called Buck Privates, in which they performed "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" while wearing WAC uniforms. The song was nominated for an Academy Award and became one of the most enduring of the war.
Cate Lineberry and The Secret Rescue links:
also at Largehearted Boy:
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