Letters & Love Songs.
In this post we're looking at three letters from our archive that mention those heartbreaking World War 2 songs every one seems to know -- and one or two you might not.
"I'll Be Seeing You"
Billie Holliday. Source: Usatoday.com
In his October 1944 letter home, from the South of France Bill Ahern writes to his folks and kid sister:
"Heard the hit parade last night think I’ll be seeing You No.1 a very beautiful song."
"I'll Be Seeing You" (Click to Hear) was written in 1938 by Sammy Fain and Irving Kahal, first appearing in the musical "Right This Way". The 1944 the film "I'll Be Seeing You" brought the song to the front. Bing Crosby had the number one with his recording in 1944, the same year Billie Holliday and Frank Sinatra recorded the tune. It is still recorded to this day, with contemporary sings Katherine McPhee and Norah Jones reviving this heart breaking tune.
It could be that Ahern was referring to the Bing Crosby cover or the Billie Holiday cover of the 1938 song. We've chosen to feature Billie as later on in this blog post Bing will get his day!
"You'll Never Know"
Faye performs "You'll Never Know" in "Hello, Frisco, Hello!" Source: 20th Century Fox
In the Rendano Letters, on June 15th, 1943 Ralph's penpal "Moe" mentions seeing the film:
"I did and also saw the movie 'Hello, Frisco, Hello”' It was a wonderful show. Did you see it? They played “You’ll Never Know” about 3 times in the picture which made me like it more."
"You'll Never Know" (Click to Hear) was written by Harry Warren and Mack Gordon. The song is based on a poem written by a young Oklahoma war bride named Dorothy Fern Norris. Alice Faye sings it in both "Hello, Frisco, Hello" and "Four Jills in a Jeep". Faye never officially made a recording of the "You'll Never Know" tho it did win the Academ Award for Best Original Song. For decades the song has remained popular and been recorded by Vera Lynn, Frank Sinatra, Doris Day, Barbara Streisand and Earthea Kit. It's not hard to tell why! Give this one a listen and we're not sure you'll have a dry eye afterwards...
Bing Crosby Source: DoctorMarco.com
In this April 16th letter from 1942 Jack mentions to to Betty that's he heard some Bing Crosby:
"Gee, just as I started to write, 'Bing' Crosby started singing 'Blues In The Night'. Swell. You know hon, I heard 'Miss You' last night. I really listened intently and those words certainly are beautiful and fit in so well with us. I think I’ve made it my 'number one song'."
"Miss You" (Click to Hear) was a hit song by the Tobias brothers in its release in 1929. In 1942 Dinah Shore, Eddy Howard, Freddy Martin, and Bing Crosby released versions of the song. In Jack's letter he's heard Bing's rendition. So many of Bing Crosby's great hits are remembered today that it was a fun hunt to learn about this song. Thanks, Jack!
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Thanks to all the historians and music lovers out there who have compiled much more in depth indexes on these classic songs!