This song was recorded in early May of 1941. The world was at war, but we hadn't entered it yet.
The country was still struggling through the twin economic disasters caused by the Great Depression
and the Dust Bowl. FDR's socialist workers' programs put some people to work, but not enough and
not in the private sector.
It was in this social and economic morass that Billie Holiday sang, "Them that's got shall get, them that's not shall lose." It was a cynicism borne of the events of the day. Though her lyric continues, "But God Bless the child that's got his own, got his own," I can't help but think that this is more rage against the machine. As though she's saying, God bless those that have their own because there are so darn few of them.
A classic torch song. This version was released in 1943 as the title song of the movie with the same name. By the time of the movie's release in the summer of 1943, we had been involved in World War II for a year and a half. It seems reasonable to me that the pining lyrics and melody of this song captured the feelings of women with husbands, sons, and brothers overseas.
This song is a scathing critique of the American troops who were stationed in Trinidad and the local girls who provided them companionship. Until today, I had heard only the Andrews Sisters version of it, which was Americanized and sanitized for domestic broadcast. Though their version still spoke of Trinidadian girls working for the Yankee dollar, the ethos of the day was so innocent that no one connected that with prostitution; particularly not the Andrews Sisters.
The original Lord Invader does not mask its anger with cute subtleties. The lyrics say in part, "Since the Yankees came to Trinidad, they have the young girls going mad. The young girls say they treat them nice, and they give them a better price." The song could be about selling papayas at roadside stands, but somehow I don't think that would have provoked the same level of contempt.
Woody Guthrie's socialist folk anthem - how I hate it.
Lili Marleen - Marlene Dietrich (1945)
The boys' version of 'Stormy Weather'. Marlene Dietrich's husky voice croons nostalgically for her absent love, Lili Marleen. I remember this song most clearly as background music for many World War II movies that I watched as a kid. Interestingly, it was popular with both German and Allied troops during the war. The German national radio station began broadcasting it to their Afrika Korps and the song caught on with both sides. Actress Marlene Dietrich, who performs this version, though German, was an ardent anti-Nazi and performed more than 500 concerts for Allied troops during World War II.