Thursday, May 28, 2020

We’ll Meet Again—Murfin Home Confinement Music Festival 2020

We'll Meet Again sung by Vera Lynn

We’ll Meet Again, like other World War II separation songs seems especially apt as we miss physical contact with loved ones during our Coronavirus isolation.  But the most beloved of all British wartime songs and its revered singer Vera Lynn has officially been turned out for new duty during the current crisis.

The first British sheet music for We'll Meet Again surprisingly did not feature Vera Lynn or an explicit war time context. That was quickly remedied in subsequent issues. 
We’ll Meet Again was written by English songwriters Ross Parker and Hughie Charles in1939, the earliest day of the war.  It quickly became popular with the troops on their way to a doomed defense of France that ended with the evacuation of Dunkirk.  Lynn sang the song on radio and everyone one with a phonograph in the United Kingdom wanted a copy. And she sang it hundreds of time in personal appearances for soldiers, sailors, and airmen encouraging them to join her on the final choruses.  In 1943 she took it to the screen in a British Columbia pictures film. 

Lynn sharing tea with soldiers and sailors from a YMCA special train car.  The troops adored her.
For some reason Columbia did not heavily promote the movie in the U.S. and her famous recording only got to #29 on this side of the pond, though singers like Dinah Shore covered it.  In fact most Americans best remember record as the song Slim Pickens rides a nuke to doomsday in Stanley Kubrick’s 1964 Dr. Strangelove or How I Stopped Working and Learned to Love the Bomb.

We'll Meet Again and Vera Lynn were invoked by the Queen in her rare special TV broadcast about the Coronavirus emergency.  Just 9 years younger than Lynn, she was herself a World War II veteran.
The indestructible Lynn sang the song in London on the 60th anniversary of VE Day in 2005.  On April 5, 2020, Queen Elizabeth II referenced the song in a rare televised address that aired on the BBC in which she expressed her gratitude for the efforts people are taking to mitigate the Coronavirus pandemic and acknowledged the severe challenges being faced by families across the world. The Queen, of course, was a young Princess was an Army lorry driver during the War.   The reference spurred a cover by Katherine Jenkins with Lynn on a video screen to benefit the National Health Service (NHS) charities, which made it to # 72 on the UK Singles Chart.  Then in May Lynn’s original recording was re-released for the 75th anniversary of VE-Day reached #55.
Still hale and hearty 103 year old Dame Vera took the attention graciously.

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