Most Popular WWII Songs

  • “The White Cliffs of Dover” (1941)

Walter Kent and Nat Burton’s response to the battles in the skies of the English Channel is perhaps the most popular war song. Although recorded in 1941 by Glenn Miller & His Orchestra, it was Vera Lynn’s 1942 recording that captured the hearts of listeners at home and abroad. It quickly became an iconic song for rallying the spirits of a nation, not to mention a signature track for Vera Lynn.

  • “We’ll Meet Again” (1939)

Like “White Cliffs of Dover,” the 1939 song by Ross Parker and Hughie Charles was made famous by Vera Lynn, the late singer and actress who entertained troops during World War II and left a nation spellbound. She sang it in the 1943 film of the same name and, along with ‘White Cliffs..’ was one of the most remembered songs.

Recommended recording: Vera Lynn – Keep Smiling Through

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  • ‘Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy’ (1941)

The Andrews Sisters were massive stars in the 1940s and they made this classic song one of their favorites after first performing it in the movie. Buck Soldiers (1941) – in which they featured, alongside stars Abbott and Costello. It was written by Don Raye and Hughie Prince.

  • “In the Mood” (1930/38)

Originally written as “Tar Paper Stomp” by Wingy Malone in 1930, Andy Razaf and Joe Garland turned it into an arrangement with lyrics we know today. Although it was recorded in 1938 by another big band, it was the 1939 recording by Glenn Miller & His Orchestra that people went crazy about. This recording is in the Grammy Hall of Fame.

  • “Run, Rabbit, Run” (1939)

Noel Gay & Ralph Butler wrote this one for the 1939 musical The little dog laughed, which made him popular at the time. Flanagan & Allen quickly recorded it, along with a version that poked fun at the opposite side of the war – suffice it to say that this version (with the words “Run, Adolf, Run”) was perhaps even more popular with many.

  • “Everything Stops for Tea” (1935)

Maurice Sigler, Al Goodheart & Al Hoffmann’s song was originally written for the 1935 musical Get out of the pantry. Jack Buchanan’s popular recording was used by the Ministry of Food in 1940, giving him national exposure and boosting his popularity.

  • “Good Night Darling” (1931)

This song was written by Ray Noble, Jimmy Campbell and Reg Connolly and was often recorded in the 30s and 40s. Its appearances in films like Angel’s Holiday (1937), Palm Beach History (1942) and Stage door canteen (1943) made him popular. It was recorded by Rudy Valee and Kenny Baker, among others, and a new recording by Nick Curtis was used as the theme music for the 90s BBC sitcom of the same name.

  • “When the Lights Come On Again (Around the World)” (1943)

Much like “We’ll Meet Again”, the message of this song by Eddie Seiler, Sol Marcus & Bennie Benjamin has not escaped the millions who are going through hell at home and abroad. Vaughan Monroe & His Orchestra recorded the most famous song and topped the charts.

  • “Over Time” (1931)

Written by Herman Hupfield for the Broadway musical Everyone is welcomethis song was made famous over a decade later by the movie casablanca (1942). Although Dooley Wilson performed the song in the film, his soundtrack version was not released commercially. Rudy Valee’s 1931 recording remains one of the best known, although the song has been recorded by many artists over the years.

  • “We’ll Drag the Laundry to the Siegfried Line” (1939)

Perhaps one of the most famous songs sung during World War II, the popular song by Michael Carr and Jimmy Kennedy was a comedic spectacle of defiance and a morale booster of sorts. The Siegfried Line refers to Germany’s fortified western border with France. It was recorded often during World War II, with notable recordings by Flanagan & Allen, Arthur Askey and Vera Lynn.

Recommended recording: 100 Hits – Wartime Memories

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