Revival of J.M. Barrie plays shines light again on songs of World War I
One of the many pleasures of the current Rep Stage double bill of J.M Bartie plays -- you ought to catch it -- is hearing snippets of World War I songs. They're used as background before each play and put to particularly effective service during "The Old Lady Shows Her Medals," a poignant tale of two lives brought together under the most unlikely and mutually rewarding of circumstances.
Both world wars produced an awful lot of popular music, including patriotic tunes, comic ditties and the sweetest of ballads. Many songs associated with WW I may sound very dated and terribly sentimental to a lot of folks now, but there's some wonderful stuff there, in melody and lyrics. Hearing some of them at Rep Stage got me thinking about that whole genre and a piece of sheet music I bought at an antique store years ago called
"Dear Old Pal of Mine."
I had to buy this one because it said that it was sung by John McCormack, one of my favorite singers. At that point, I had not heard the tenor's recording of this particular item, but I figured the song must be at least decent (he did occasionally bother, I know, with inferior material). It turned out to be great, almost on par with the ultimate sad song of WW I, "My Buddy."
I enjoy digging the sheet music out and playing it at the piano every now and then -- with fabulous rubato, of course -- but the best way to experience it, I know, is through McCormack's golden voice, which conjures up the era so magically. I hope you find it as affecting as I do: