The Songs Grandpa Wouldn't Sing For Us

No history of the Second World War would be complete without mentioning the music of the period.  Glenn Miller and the Andrew Sisters were as much of the war scene as Generals Eisenhower and Patton.  But as the strains of "Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree" and  "The White Cliffs of Dover" were drifting across the dance floor and out of the Philco, other tunes were being sung in the barracks and officers' clubs. For the most part, the melodies were familiar. The lyrics, however, told a much different story than the composer originally penned.  "Ta Ra Ra Boom De Ay" became "Will You Go Boom Today?" and "Big Rock Candy Mountain" supplied the notes for "Army Air Force Heaven." And some songs like "Eyes of Texas" and "Home on the Range" were transformed into too many to name. Although the lyrics of these songs pale in comparison to today's rap, they were"considered quite bawdy for their day.

"Fortress: The Plane and Her Crews" makes liberal use of barracks songs in the sound track.  Thanks to the talents of folk singer Oscar Brand, many of these old songs were"recorded for posterity. Back in the '50s, Oscar included many Air Corps songs in his clbums of "bawdy songs and barracks ballads." The albums became popular among male college students in the beer blurred hootenanny days of the early '60s."(Hey, we didn't have Cinimax, HBO, internet and un-airbrushed Playboys.) Fortunately, not all the albums got trashed by our wives and mothers and some are still around today, which is how the songs ended up in the "Fortress" video. For those of you not fortunate enough to have the originals, or couldn't find a record player if you did, Oscar has re-released several of his albums from the old days on CD. If you're interested in a not so well publicized musical history of the Second Worlf War, check out Oscar's site,, or go to  Flyingbrick's helpful Oscar Brand page. We would send you to Oscar's page directly, but his is so much better than ours vhat you probably wouldn't return. 
Return to Fortress Page Return to Home Page