Things I Found in My Mother-in-Law’s House (but I actually put there myself): The Army Song Book

OK, this is a rather odd entry in this series because, although it dates from 1941 (pretty much the same time as the paperbacks I blogged about previously), this book was not actually found in my mother-in-law’s house: it was actually found in my mother’s house, because it belonged to my father, James Willett (whose signature appears on the front).

It’s the official US Army Song Book from the Second World War. It begins, as you’d expect, with the Star Spangled Banner (three verses!), but the complete contents is eclectic, to say the least:

  1. The Star Spangled Banner
  2. Alma Mater
  3. Aloha Oe
  4. America
  5. America, the Beautiful
  6. Anchors Aweigh
  7. The Army Air Corps
  8. Song of the Army Engineer
  9. Auld Lang Syne
  10. Battle Hymn of the Republic
  11. Bombed
  12. The Caissons Go Rolling Along
  13. Parody Field Artillery Song
  14. Carry Me Back to Old Virginny
  15. Casey Jones
  16. Cindy
  17. Colombo
  18. Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean
  19. Crash On! Artillery
  20. Dixie
  21. Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes
  22. Arms for the Love of America (The Army Ordnance Song) by Irving Berlin
  23. For Her Lover Who Was Far Away
  24. For Sev’n Long Years
  25. God Bless America
  26. God of Our Fathers
  27. Good Night, Ladies!
  28. Home, Boys, Home! & The Infantry (there are two number 28’s: a SNAFU, I guess)
  29. A Home on the Range
  30. Honey Dat I Love So Well
  31. I’ll Tell You Where They WEre
  32. The Infantry (different than the previous one by this name)
  33. It’s a Long Way to Tipperary
  34. I’ve Been Workin’ on de Railroad
  35. Juanita
  36. K-K-K-Katy, plus parodies of the chorus of K-K-K-Katy, such as “K-K-K-K. P., Dirty old K.P., That’s the only Army Job that I abhor…” or the even more evocative “C-c-c-cootie, Horrible cootie, You’re the only b-b-b-bug that I abhor…”)
  37. The Last Round-Up
  38. Let Me Call You Sweetheart
  39. The Man on the Flying Trapeze
  40. The Marines’ Hymn
  41. The Mintrels Sing of an English King
  42. The Monkeys Have No Tails in Zamboanga
  43. The Mountain Battery
  44. My Buddy
  45. My Wild Irish Rose (plus a parody, “My wild eyed cadet,/He ain’t learned nothing yet,/He noses her down/When close to the ground…”)
  46. The New River Train
  47. Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen
  48. Oh! Susanna
  49. The Old Gray Mare, She Ain’t What She Used To Be
  50. Old Joe Clark (not a song about the former Canadian Prime Minister)
  51. Old King Cole (with a modified chorus glorifying the “Fighting Infantry”: each chorus adds another rank, so the final chorus runs, “The Army’s gone to hell,” said the generals;”What’s my next command?” said the colonels;/”Where’re my boots and spurs?” said the majors;/”We want ten days’ leave,” said the captains;/”We do all the work,” said the shavetails;/”Right by squads, squads right,” said the sergeants;/”Beer, beer, beer,” said the privates,/”Merry men are we./There’s none so fair as can compare/With the Fighting Infantry.”
  52. The Old Plantation
  53. On, Brave Old Army Team
  54. Pack Up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit-Bag
  55. Pop! Goes the Weasel
  56. The Raw Recruit
  57. Red River Valley
  58. She’ll Be Comin’ Round the Mountain
  59. Slum and Gravy & Sons of Randolph (there are two number 59s)
  60. Smiles
  61. Song of the Signal Corps
  62. A Stein Song
  63. Tammany
  64. There’s a Long, Long Trail
  65. Where Do We Go From Here?
  66. Yankee Doodle
  67. You’re in the Army Now

It’s an interesting mixture of sentimental old favorites, patriotic  songs, and songs poking fun at Army life. I like, for one example, Bombed:

We were bombed last night, bombed the night before

And we’re going to be bombed tonight as we never were bombed before.

When we’re bombed, we’re as scared as we can be,

They can bomb the whole darn Army if they don’t bomb me.

CHORUS

They’re over us, over us,

One little cave for the four of us,

Glory be to God, there are no more of us

Or they’d surely bomb the whole darned crew.

But I think my favorite part of the book is the warning you can see on the image of the inside front cover:

“This book is the property of the United States Government and its contents may be used only with the military services.”

Which means, of course, that every time since 1941 that anyone has sung “Home on the Range” or “That Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze” they’ve been breaking military regulations.

I’ve sung both many times myself. I feel so ashamed.

Permanent link to this article: https://edwardwillett.com/2010/06/things-i-found-in-my-mother-in-laws-house-but-i-actually-put-there-myself-the-army-song-book/

1 comment

    • Jeanne Hoffman on March 11, 2012 at 3:07 pm
    • Reply

    Dear Edward,
    My husband passed away in 2005 and among his collections were 5 copies of the Army Song Book. I am downsizing and need to get rid of them. How can I find their value and a market for them? I’m not of the computer age and have a hard time with Ebay. I also have sheet music from that era and need to sell those as well.
    Thanks for any help you can give me.
    Regards,
    Jeanne Hoffman

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