Alpine Summit

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Over There Then and Now

Last night, my friend pointed out the difference he noticed between the lyrics to the end theme of "Over There" and a song of the same name from World War I. He made a compelling argument I thought. The lyrics of the tv show are these:

The day is comin'
The drums are drumin'
If you know one, say a prayer

Theres mothers crying
Fathers sighing (uh huh)
War is in the air

The trains are fillin' up with boys
Who've left behind their favorite toys

Their goin' over there
Over there (over there)
Where someone has to die

Over there (over there)
Over there (over there)
Their odds are not the reason why
Over there (over there)
Over there (over there)
Where someone has to die

So, it's all about going "over there" and dying and how miserable the families will be because their son/daughter is off fighting. Compare that with the original song with the same title:
Johnnie, get your gun,
Get your gun, get your gun,
Take it on the run,
On the run, on the run.
Hear them calling, you and me,
Every son of liberty.
Hurry right away,
No delay, go today,
Make your daddy glad
To have had such a lad.
Tell your sweetheart not to pine,
To be proud her boy's in line.
(chorus sung twice)

Johnnie, get your gun,
Get your gun, get your gun,
Johnnie show the Hun
Who's a son of a gun.
Hoist the flag and let her fly,
Yankee Doodle do or die.
Pack your little kit,
Show your grit, do your bit.
Yankee to the ranks,
From the towns and the tanks.
Make your mother proud of you,
And the old Red, White and Blue.
(chorus sung twice)

Chorus
Over there, over there,
Send the word, send the word over there -
That the Yanks are coming,
The Yanks are coming,
The drums rum-tumming
Ev'rywhere.
So prepare, say a pray'r,
Send the word, send the word to beware.
We'll be over, we're coming over,
And we won't come back till it's over
Over there.

According to First World War.com; this song, written by George Cohen in 1917, became extremely popular and a huge morale booster for soldiers marching to the tune as well as to those on the homefront. Compare that with the song "Over There" today. It's a depressing, slow beat song meant to illicit sadness and despair.

Message in 1917: "Get ready for the end of the war because the yanks are coming and you don't have a prayer!"

Message in 2005: "We should never have to go to war because it makes people sad."

How far we have come.

As a side note, the episode last night was about the media spinning a story to make it look like our soldiers were bloodthirsty murderers- which isn't really ground-breaking in itself, but the UKN (United Kingdom Network) was the first media organization to break the story. Interesting they would choose the *British* news organization (a representation of the BBC) to be the ones to break the story of America's shortcomings be they falsified or otherwise. This show really is realistic in some ways.

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