Noho Banjo And Ukulele Musing No. 23: “We’ll Meet Again”

UKULELE MUSING NUMBER 23, 8 JUNE 2019—“WE’LL MEET AGAIN,” A POIGNANT SONG OF WORLD WAR II AND TODAY

During the celebration this week of the 75th Anniversary of the Normandy landings during World War II, I would be remiss not to touch on one of the most meaningful songs of that era and one that is in our Yellow Book.  “We’ll Meet Again” is a 1939 British song made famous by singer Vera Lynn. 

The song is one of the most famous of the era, and resonated with soldiers going off to fight as well as with their families and sweethearts on the home front.  The nostalgic lyrics (“We’ll meet again, don’t know where, don’t know when, but I know we’ll meet again some sunny day.“) were very popular during the war and made the song one of its emblematic hits.  Here’s her version:

Vera Lynn: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cHcunREYzNY

In 1941, during the darkest days of the Second World War, Lynn began her own radio program, Sincerely Yours, sending messages to British troops serving abroad. 

She also visited hospitals to interview new mothers and send personal messages to their husbands overseas. 

Because of her work with the troops, Vera Lynn became known in Britain as “the Forces’ Sweetheart.”

Those were the days of parting and meeting and parting, hopefully, to meet again.  “We’ll Meet Again” became a standard finale on both sides of the Atlantic for musical theater and music hall performances, and even movie theaters with their “bouncing ball” sing-alongs.   

Vera Lynn is 102 years old today and still singing, if only in the hearts of those who remember those war years.

“We’ll Meet Again” lived on beyond the war years and found its way into many films and television shows, particularly as a “closer.”  Probably the most well-known version—if not the most depressing—was in the ending to the blackly satirical 1964 film “Dr. Strangelove.” The film ends with an ominous montage of nuclear explosions accompanying Lynn’s song of hope (?).  

Dr. Strangelove Finale:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mEtldt-FI8Y

Even Stephen Colbert used it to end his show “The Colbert Report” a couple of years ago.

Stephen Colbert:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jZ09nAwVkVM&t=4s

Not to be outdone, there are a few dozen ukulele versions, plus the song in our book.

Ukulele:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ji77K-8agNs

Lynn herself sang the song in London on the 60th Anniversary of VE Day in 2005 and it was sung just this week at the Normandy Invasion Anniversary Celebration in Portsmouth, England—the departure port for the many American, British, Canadian, and other Allied troops boarding their ships to cross the English Channel to land on the beaches of Normandy.

75th Anniversary:   https://www.smoothradio.com/news/music/sheridan-smith-d-day-vera-lynn-cover-video/

So, let’s remember the boys and men, girls and women of the “Greatest Generation” who fought, lived, and sang throughout the war.  “We’ll Meet Again!”

Stay Tuned!

Author: NohoBanjo of Northampton and, now, Easthampton, Mass.

Hi friends, neighbors, and fellow strummers. These “musings” are based on my interest and study of Banjo and Ukulele history, lore, and music. My goal is to both educate and enlighten by sharing what I have learned within a broad musical and historical context—with honesty and, at times, a bit of humor. Needless to say, your thoughts and comments are, as always, welcome.

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