Daily doses of creativity

Monday, February 10, 2014

Mike's Musical Monday - Variations on a Theme: Over There

Due to my lovely singing voice, I've been inundated with requests for an instrumental song. This one was inspired by George M. Cohan's melody for "Over There." As this blog is about Words & Music, the story and the lyrics of the original melody are included below.





By Jennifer Rosenberg
On the morning of April 6, 1917, newspaper headlines across America announced the news that the United States had declared war on Germany. While most people who read the newspaper headlines that morning tried to comprehend how their lives were going to change, one man started humming. That may seem like an odd reaction to most people, but not for George M. Cohan.

George Cohan was an actor, singer, dancer, songwriter, playwright, and Broadway producer who had composed hundreds of songs, including such famous songs as “You're a Grand Old Flag,” “Mary's a Grand Old Name,” "Life's A Funny Proposition After All," “Give My Regards to Broadway,” and “I'm a Yankee Doodle Dandy.” So it is perhaps not completely surprising that Cohan's reaction to reading the headlines that morning was to hum; however, what is surprising is that Cohan's humming became the start of a very popular song.

Cohan continued to hum all morning and soon began to think of some lyrics. By the time Cohan arrived at work that morning, he already had the verses, chorus, tune, and title of what became the very popular song, "Over There."

"Over There" was an instant success, selling over two million copies by the end of the war. Perhaps the most popular version of "Over There" was sung by Nora Bayes, but Enrico Caruso and Billy Murray also sang beautiful renditions.

The song "Over There" is about the "Yanks" (i.e. Americans) going "over there" (i.e. across the Atlantic) to help fight the "Huns" (i.e. the Germans) during World War I.

In 1936, Cohan was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for writing the song.


OVER THERE (George M. Cohan) 1917


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.

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
Everywhere.
So prepare, say a prayer,
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.

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.

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
Everywhere.
So prepare, say a prayer,
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.