Good songs about men and war?
April 6, 2010 8:24 PM   Subscribe

What are some popular World War II-era songs about masculinity, the military, and/or war?

I am looking for some popular songs about masculinity and war. Particularly if they're sung by women, and ideally from the WWII era. Essentially, if the Andrews Sisters had performed a song called "If You Were a Real Man You'd Join the Army Already," this would be what I'd be looking for. Earnest and unself-conscious and utterly embracing of traditional gender roles.

Any suggestions?
posted by catesbie to Media & Arts (21 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
There are a variety of ditties under the name 'Hitler Has Only Got One Ball,' making fun of the top Nazi leaders' testicles.
Hitler has only got one ball,
Göring has two but very small,
Himmler is somewhat sim'lar,
But poor Goebbels has no balls at all.
posted by spamguy at 8:28 PM on April 6, 2010

I imagine that when the Andrews Sisters sang "In the Navy" they sang it more-or-less straight.
posted by feckless at 8:34 PM on April 6, 2010

While there are some awesome WWII songs like "Lili Marlene", "I'll Walk Alone", "The White Cliffs of Dover", "We'l Meet Again", "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy", "Der Fuehrer's Face", etc., I can't think of any that specifically aggrandize men going off to fight the Germans while the woman stays home.

If I may, I'll just offer a fun counter-example, where traditional gender roles are most certainly not embraced, but it's done in a very warrior-conscious manner: "Kiss Me Goodnight, Sergeant-Major".
posted by darkstar at 8:42 PM on April 6, 2010

World War II themed, but from 1980-something: "Al Bowlly's in Heaven" by Richard Thompson. Takes a pretty negative view of the war. I haven't listened to Al Bowlly himself.
posted by k. at 8:51 PM on April 6, 2010

In the same vein of modern folk guys writing songs about soldiers in WWII: "Sparrow's Point" by Richard Shindell. The former was British, this one was American.
posted by k. at 8:56 PM on April 6, 2010

"Remember December 7th"
"Accentuate the Positive"
"Cleanin' My Rifle (and Dreamin' of You)"
"You're a sap, Mr. Jap"
(straight from my U.S. textbook)
posted by kylej at 9:30 PM on April 6, 2010

It's surprisingly tough to find really clear-cut examples of gender roles in songs sung by females during World War II. Vera Lynn is responsible for some pretty English tunes that struck a very sentimental chord with many at the time, a few of which might fit the bill:

"When the lights go on again (all over the world)"
"When they sound the last all clear"
"We'll meet again" (a great performance for the Royal Air Force)

There are, of course, others. She sang many songs in those days, many of which were topical.
posted by koeselitz at 10:09 PM on April 6, 2010

Kinda sorta:

Nat King Cole - Gone with the Draft
Louis Jordan - G.I. Jive, Ration Blues
Peggy Lee & Benny Goodman - There Won't Be a Shortage of Love
Also maybe check the soundtrack to the 1943 musical Stage Door Canteen.
posted by mediareport at 10:14 PM on April 6, 2010

Ok, this may or may not fit, because it involves opposite gender roles but could be seen as making men want to catch up, but Woodie Guthrie wrote a song called "Miss Pavilchenko" about a real life Soviet sniper, Lyudmila Pavlichenko, who had several hundred kills to her name.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:28 PM on April 6, 2010

Except for the fact that it refers to WWI rather than WWII, you are never going to find anything that's a more perfect match for what you're looking for than If He Can Fight Like He Can Love, Goodnight Germany.
posted by MsMolly at 10:44 PM on April 6, 2010

How about Dinah Shore – I'll Walk Alone?
posted by tellurian at 12:38 AM on April 7, 2010

If you're after hypermasculinity and the WWII era your best bet's likely to be the countries who were on the other side. Consider, though it's not necessarily Fascist, and is still sung today, the Spanish Legion's El Novio de la Muerte:
Cuando al fin le recogieron,
entre su pecho encontraron
una carta y un retrato
de una divina mujer.
Y aquella carta decía:
" Dios un día te llama,
para mí un puesto reclama,
que a buscarte pronto iré".
Or Cara Al Sol, which was recorded as a female-voice ballad after the end of the war. (There are a few more Spanish nationalist anthems here). Or the Giovinezza. Or, and again not at all specifically Fascist, the verse you don't usually hear sung of the German national anthem:
Deutsche Frauen, deutsche Treue,
Deutscher Wein und deutscher Sang...
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 12:49 AM on April 7, 2010

Excuse me that should have read "...the countries who were on the other side to the others suggested here"
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 12:51 AM on April 7, 2010

From the 1954 film White Christmas: Gee, I Wish I Was Back in the Army. Especially strong with the gender roles, this one.
posted by Clandestine Outlawry at 1:09 AM on April 7, 2010

There's a pretty famous WWII song about how all the guys left at home are lame dating material since all the good ones have gone to fight, but I can't remember the damn thing right now.
posted by mediareport at 4:48 AM on April 7, 2010

They're either too young or too old, famously sung by Bette Davis:

They're either too young or too old
They're either too grey or too grassy green
The pickings are poor and the crop is lean
What's good is in the army
What's left will never harm me

posted by ROTFL at 9:24 AM on April 7, 2010

Response by poster: These all look intriguing! Thanks so much for all the suggestions. I look forward to going through all of them.
posted by catesbie at 10:51 AM on April 7, 2010

How about "There is nothing Like a Dame" from"South Pacific"? I sing that one all the time (in my car).
posted by wenestvedt at 11:16 AM on April 7, 2010

That's the one, ROTFL, thanks! You just saved me an AskMe.
posted by mediareport at 3:45 PM on April 7, 2010

Woody Guthrie's "So Long, It's Been Good To Know You"
posted by backwards guitar at 5:44 AM on April 8, 2010

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