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Arras, Apil 1, Soldiers listen to the Band

...and the band played on...

On the central square in the city of Arras in Northern France troops listen to the music


By Rob Ruggenberg email enveloppe

listening to music during the Great WarWho doesn't know them? It's a long way to Tipperary, Pack up your troubles, Roses of Picardy, Land of Hope and Glory - all heritages of the Great War.

You can download these songs here, as well as other old-timers recorded during the Great War (gathered with the help of Tony Langley), plus new recordings and new songs about the war.

New Recordings

Eric BogleOne of the most poignant songs made after the Great War is The Green Fields of France, written by Eric Bogle (picture right) in the early seventies. Bogle turned a traditional Scottish lamento into this dramatic World War 1 song.

The song is about soldier William McBride, who died in 1916. When the war is over a man (or a woman?) sits at his grave in France and talks to him. Did you know what you died for, Willie? Did you really believe them, that this war would end wars? The killing and dying - it was all done in vain.

Click here to read more about this extraordinary peace song and about the search for the real William McBride.

The Green Fields of France has been performed by several artists.
  Click the button to listen to Eric Bogle's original version (MP3 Pro file, 2,9 Mb).

The same song, but with a different name, No Man's Land, was sung a capella by the British folksinger June Tabor during a 1992 peace concert in Passchendale in Flanders (Belgium).
  Click the button to hear the live recording, made by the Belgian radio and broadcasted on Remembrance Day in November 1992 (MP3 Pro file, 2,3 Mb).

We have more of these beautiful live recordings by June Tabor. You'll find them in the list below. The MP3 PRO format is fully compatible with ordinary MP3, but smaller in size and in better quality.

Click on one of the buttons:

  June TaborThe Reaper. Words and music by Bill Caddick. Sung by June Tabor (picture right). Live recording 1992. (MP3 PRO file, 750 Kb)
  I want to go home. Sung by Jim Boyes, Barry Coope and Lester Simpson. Recorded in 1995. (MP3 PRO file, 350 Kb)
  There's a long, long trail. Music by Zo Elliott, words by Stoddard King. Sung by June Tabor. Live recording 1992. (MP3 PRO file, 1,4 Mb)
  Will 'ye go to Flanders? 18th Century Scottish traditional. Sung by June Tabor. Live recording 1992. (MP3 PRO file, 1,5 Mb)
  Aqaba. Words and music by Bill Caddick. Sung by June Tabor. Live recording 1992. (MP3 PRO file, 2,3 Mb)
  And the Band played Waltzing Mathilda... Music and words by Eric Bogle. Sung by June Tabor.(MP3 PRO file, 3 Mb)
  And the Band played Waltzing Mathilda... Original version sung by Eric Bogle (MP3 PRO file, 2,8 Mb).


  Er zijn soldaten uit Beverlo vertrokken. Flemish anti-war song, sung by Wannes Vandevelde and the Internationale Nieuwe Scene (MP3 Pro, 1,6 Mb). Click here for pictures and background (in Dutch only).
  In Flanders Fields. Rock song, by the Russian band Romislokus. A reply-poem to In Flanders Fields by John McCrae. Lyrics by Stan Hilborn, Canada. Recorded in 2004. (MP3 PRO file, 1,8 Mb)


  John McCormackIt's a long way to Tipperary. Original composition by Judge and Williams. Sung by John McCormack (picture right). Recorded in 1914. (MP3 Pro 1 Mb)
  Roses of Picardy. Composition by Wood. Sung by the tenor John McCormack. Recorded in 1919 (MP3 Pro file, 900 Kb)
  Pack up your troubles. Music by Felix Powell, words by George Asaf. Sung by bariton Murray Johnson (also known as Stanley Kirby). Recorded in 1916 (MP3 Pro file, 900 Kb)
  Oh, it's a lovely war! - and - Mademoiselle from Armentieres. Recorded in 1930 (MP3 Pro file, 500 Kb)

And there is more, there is MIDI:

Below you will find midi files provided by Parlor Songs has a three part series about the popular music of the Great War which you can see at: .

  The has made some of their recordings available in Real Audio files. Songs on their website are: Pack up your troubles, It's a long way to Tipperary, Alexander's Ragtime Band, There's a long, long trail, A bicycle built for two, and Keep the home fires burning. The chorus also sings from the Great War such as Partons la mer est belle and Ma Normandie, plus some French-Canadian songs. Nice!

  In the USA the Clayton College & State University in Morrow, Georgia, has a nice page with mainly from the Great War, including song texts and old original recordings. Available are We Take Our Hats Off To You, Mr. Wilson, I Didn't Raise My Boy to be a Soldier, For Your Country and My Country, Over There, It's Time for Every Boy to be a Soldier, My Sweetheart is Somewhere in France, Hello, Central! Give Me No Man's Land, Would You Rather Be a Colonel with an Eagle on Your Shoulder (or a Private with a Chicken on Your Knee?), My Dream of the Big Parade and more. You need a Real Audio plugin to hear the music.


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