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Generational Dynamics Web Log for 1-Sep-2009
Wartime entertainer Vera Lynn returns to pop music charts in UK

Web Log - September, 2009

Wartime entertainer Vera Lynn returns to pop music charts in UK

The romantic escapist music of the the 1930s and 1940s is returning.

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Arctic Monkeys were the most popular artists in the UK last week, followed close behind by Dizzee Rascal. But that wasn't the big news.

The big news is that "the Soldier's Sweetheart," Vera Lynn, is back on the charts at number 20 with her recording of "We'll Meet Again," a song that she sang to the troops during the darkest days of World War II. The release of the recording was timed for release at the 70 year anniversary of UK's declaration of war on Germany, September 2, 1939.

Here's a video showing an actual performance of Vera Lynn before an audience from the Royal Air Force in 1942:

    We'll meet again, don't know where, don't know when
    But I'm sure we'll meet again some sunny day
    Keep smiling through, just the way you used to do
    Till the blue skies chase the dark clouds far away

Now, won't you please say "Hello" to the folks that I know Tell 'em it won't be long 'Cause they'd be happy to know that when you saw me go I was singing this song

We'll meet again, don't know where, don't know when But I'm sure we'll meet again some sunny day

One of the few real pleasures of writing articles for this web site is to describe the return of the Big Band Era style music.

I wrote about this last April, when Susan Boyle won worldwide acclaim and popularity for her performance of "I Dreamed a Dream."

The best music of the 1930s and 1940s was lyrical, romantic escapist music. People needed that music to gain momentary respite from the suffering of homelessness, starvation and war.

Music goes through generational changes like everything else. After the war you had the sweet "live, love, laugh and be happy" post-war love ballads, followed by "rock 'n' roll" and the protest music of the Awakening era Boomers.

As Gen-X music took hold in the late 1970s and 1980s, the protest music morphed into counterculture "punk rock" music, with dark lyrics mostly rejecting Boomer values, and often emphasizing themes of violence, isolation, disillusionment and death.

Now the young Millennial generation is making itself felt more and more, and we're starting to see a return to the beautiful romantic ballads that cheer people up during times of crisis.

The following video contains a recording of Vera Lynn's most popular song, the beautiful and sentimental "The White Cliffs Of Dover".

This is an incredibly sad song, because in 1942, Nazi war planes were pouring over the English Channel, past the cliffs of Dover, to carry out their mission of bombing London and other British cities. Those of you who were traumatized by the attacks of 9/11/2001 might think about what it's like to be traumatized like that three times a day.

    Oh, there'll be bluebirds over the white cliffs of Dover
    Tomorrow, just you wait and see

There'll be love and laughter and peace ever after Tomorrow, when the world is free

The shepherd will tend his sheep The valley will bloom again And Jimmy will go to sleep In his own little room again

There'll be bluebirds over the white cliffs of Dover Tomorrow, just you wait and see

A couple of footnotes.

Susan Boyle suffered a nervous breakdown after her appearance on "Britain's Got Talent," and had to spend 5 days in a psychiatric hospital. Since then she's recovered, and she's recorded an album scheduled for release in November, at which time she'll give U.S. concert tour.

And Dame Vera Lynn is still around today, alive and kicking and 92 years old. Click here for a fascinating recent BBC interview where she reminisces about her war experiences.

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the Music and Generations thread of the Generational Dynamics forum.) (1-Sep-2009) Permanent Link
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