"If You Were the Only Girl (In the World)" was written by Nat D. Ayer with lyrics by Clifford Grey. During the first performance at the Alhambra Theatre in Leicester Square, London, George Robey had intended to sing it a way that would evoke laughs from the audience. At the last minute, however, he decided to perform it sincerely. It's sweet directness led to it becoming one of the biggest hits during the WW1, a palliative, perhaps, to the horrors of the battlefield.
"It's a Long Way to Tipperary" is a British music hall song co-written by Jack Judge and Henry James "Harry" Williams. Although there has been a long-standing controversy over authorship. It was originally penned as a ballad, it was the publisher, Bert Feldman, who suggested it should become a marching song. It became popular among soldiers in the First World War and is remembered as a song of that war.
"Le Tombeau de Couperin" is a suite of six piano pieces written by Ravel from 1914 and 1917. Each movement is dedicated to a friend or relative lost during the war. The famous menuet is dedicated to the memory of Jean Dreyfus, at whose home Ravel recuperated after he was demobilized. Given the sombre theme of the suite, Ravel's music was considered by some to be too light-hearted. To this criticism, Ravel responded: "The dead are sad enough, in their eternal silence."
This song, the first of a collection of three written during WW1, is by American composer Arthur William Foote (1853 - 1937). Born in Boston, he was known as a member of the Boston Six, the other members being George Whitefield Chadwick, Amy Beach, Edward MacDowell, John Knowles Paine, and Horatio Parker. The lyrics are from the famous poem by John McCrae: 'In Flanders fields the poppies blow/ Between the crosses, row on row/ That mark our place; and in the sky/ The larks, still bravely singing, fly/ Scarce heard amid the guns below.'
"Pack Up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit-Bag, and Smile, Smile, Smile" is a World War I marching song, published in 1915. It was written by Welsh brothers George Henry Powell (words) and Felix Powell (music). It became very popular, boosting British morale despite the horrors of that war. It was one of a large number of music hall songs aimed at maintaining morale, recruiting for the forces, or defending Britain's war aims.
"NoŽl des enfants qui n'ont plus de maison" was written (words and music) by Debussy in December 1915. It is a heartfelt condemnation of the fate of children during wartime, written at a time when the composer was ill and depressed by news from the conflict. The lyrics are in the first person plural and give a piteous description of the suffering of children: 'We do not have houses any more/ The enemy have taken everything/ Even our little beds/ They have burned our school and our teacher too." It was the composer's last song written before his death in 1918.
"Over There" is a 1917 song written by George M. Cohan that was popular with the United States military and public during both world wars. It is a patriotic song designed to galvanize American young men to enlist and fight the "Hun." The song is best remembered for a line in its chorus: "The Yanks are coming."
"Keep the Home-Fires Burning (Till the Boys Come Home)" is a British patriotic First World War song composed in 1914 by Ivor Novello with words by Lena Guilbert Ford. It was recorded by James F. Harrison, Stanley Kirkby and John McCormack, becoming a big hit during the war. It has often been used since to evoke soldiers and wartime, for example in the 1969 musical "Oh What a Lovely War," in the American series "M*A*S*H" and in the 2007 movie "Atonement."
William Charles Denis Browne was born in 1888. A composer of considerable promise, "To Gratiana Dancing and Singing," written in 1913, is amongst the most beautiful songs written in the English language. The promise that it showed is emblematic of the 'lost generation' of WW1- Denis Brown was killed in action in the Gallipoli campaign in 1915.
"Good-bye-ee!" was written and composed by R. P. Weston and Bert Lee. Performed by music hall stars Florrie Forde, Daisy Wood, and Charles Whittle, it was a hit in 1917. Weston and Lee got the idea for the song when they saw a group of factory girls calling out goodbye to soldiers marching to Victoria station. They were saying the word in the exaggerated way which had been popularised as a catchphrase by comedian Harry Tate. The possible fate of the soldier is implied by the lyrics "Tho' it's hard to part I know, I'll be tickled to death to go." The song lent its name to "Goodbyeee", the final episode of the sitcom Blackadder Goes Forth.