In its efforts to provide morale-building activities for troops, the Office of War Information (OWI) undertook many projects, including the AFRS, the V-Discs, and a program to distribute books. One of its earliest moves was to distribute a (barely) updated version of its 1918 World War I Army Song Book. “Compiled by THE ADJUTANT GENERAL'S OFFICE in collaboration with THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS and published by order of the SECRETARY OF WAR”, as the title page indicates, the 1941 book was filled with patriotic, folk, marching and otherwise inspirational songs, it fit the goals of the heads of the OWI to provide the U.S. Armed forces with appropriate community-building entertainment opportunities. Such as: “America”, “Battle Hymn of the Republic”, “The Boll Weevil Song”, “Casey Jones”, “Crash On, Artillery”, “Good Night, Ladies”, “The Man On The Flying Trapeze”, “The Marine’s Hymn”, “Yankee Doodle”, “Red River Valley”, and so forth.
Now, there are a lot of good songs here, but one’s got to say there are a lot of pretty dorky old figs here that were probably better suited to Miss Pitman’s 5th grade classroom than to the fighting boys on front lines of World War II. So it isn’t surprising that servicemen kept politely asking for the words and music to the popular hits of the day. And so in early 1943, the Army Hit Kit of Popular Music was born. Each month a new “kit” containing 1 large-format sheet music booklet and 30 words-only leaflets of 6 to 8 songs of all types, old and new (with emphasis on “new”) was distributed to servicemen worldwide. Much more fun for all concerned!
In place of a matinee concert, this afternoon session in the Shedd Recital Hall will be an all-comers sing-along from several of the Army Hit Kits in our library, led by Amy Adams and our Singing Road Scholar group. Join us!
| ||Beer Barrel Polka (Roll Out The Barrel)|
(1934) Lew Brown (en), Wladimir Timm (w) Jaromir Vejvoda (m)
| ||Let Me Call You Sweetheart|
(1910) Beth Whitson (w) Leo Friedman (m)
| ||Mairzy Doats|
(1943) Al Hoffman, Jerry Livingston, Milton Drake (w/m)
| ||Bésame Mucho|
(1940) Consuelo Velázquez (sp), Sunny Skylar (en) (w) Consuelo Velázquez (m)