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This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening to… Songs about The First World War November 15, 2014

Posted by irishelectionliterature in This Weekend I'll Mostly Be Listening to....

These First World War songs many of which made their way into the repertoire of Irish Folk singers.
Sunday afternoons in the 70’s sometime, listening to the Charts on RTE Radio and The Fureys and Davey Arthurs version of “The Green Fields of France” was a constant. I can still sing it word for word. It’s such a beautiful and evocative song and the voice of Finbar Furey just suits it.
I’m pretty sure it was the Rolf Harris version of “Waltzing Matilda” that I heard first but The Pogues evoked the meaning of it more . I hadn’t realized but there was a vote in Australia in 1977 on their National Anthem.

“Waltzing Matilda” received 28% of the vote compared with 43% for “Advance Australia Fair”, 19% for “God Save the Queen” and 10% for “Song of Australia”.

A lot of the other songs, despite the subject are quite jolly the likes of “Pack up your Troubles”, “Its a Long Way to Tipperary” and “Here We Are, Here We Are Again!” come to mind.


1. Eagle - November 15, 2014

Just wondering, but are you mixing up “Waltzing Matilda” and “And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda”? The latter was written by Eric Bogle, who also wrote the “Green Fields of France.”


2. Brian Hanley - November 15, 2014

This was a huge hit in the United States in 1916



3. Brian Hanley - November 15, 2014

Sorry, it’s ‘I didn’t raise my boy to be a soldier’ hopefully this works


4. starrystarryknight - November 15, 2014

There are hundreds and hundreds of AMERICAN songs from First World War. Britain didnt either fight or ‘win’ WW1 on its own; thats a BBC impression! The ‘Matildas’ — as above — are two completely different songs. On a different (related) note could I recommend late John Wright version of ”Dumbarton’s Drums,” the march-past of I think the Argylls. The late Jean Redpath also did a fine version of it. English punk/folk band The Men They Couldnt Hang also did a raw version of Bogle’s ”Green Fields of France.” Don’t overlook Cormac McConnells fine song ”Christmas 1915/Silent Night” — the year may be wrong but the song is super. Best version for me is always by Jerry Lynch. Saw him do it in the National Concert Hall as a guest with The Kilfenora. A show stopper.
Good listening. Love the site.


WorldbyStorm - November 15, 2014

That’s a great point re US songs from the First World War starrystarrynight.

Just to say IEL, good call incorporating Motorhead much of whose output has been focused on World War One.


5. Joe Mooney - November 15, 2014

Really Powerful , and a surprising source –


6. Joe Mooney - November 15, 2014

And this is amazing – from band best known for their psychedelic output I couldn’t believe this first time I heard it –


7. Joe Mooney - November 15, 2014

And this one , revived by Chumbawamba . Words as originally sung by soldiers to a marching song during war, much to annoyance of their ‘superiors’.


8. Brian Hanley - November 15, 2014

This one’s a bit obvious but there we go


9. Brian Hanley - November 15, 2014

The Pogue’s version of ‘The Recruiting Sergeant’


10. Brian Hanley - November 15, 2014

Ahh! Maybe this one works


11. rockroots - November 15, 2014

Love the Zombies’ track above, and wasn’t there a Paul McCartney video with that Christmas truce recreated? Quite a lot of Roger Waters/Pink Floyd’s songs are based on the two world wars, this one particularly uses the voice-over of a veteran: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u3YlNNG_1Z8


12. Brian Hanley - November 15, 2014

McCartney’s was ‘Pipes of Peace’ but please don’t put that up!


rockroots - November 15, 2014

Heh heh, that’s the one!


13. Gearóid - November 15, 2014


14. eamonncork - November 15, 2014

Surprised no-one;s mentioned these. Great songs from a great album of three years ago which is largely about war in general and the same Gallipoli Campaign which inspired And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda in particular.




Always thought this was the definite version of And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda which probably is the greatest anti-war song of them all.


15. Joe Mooney - November 15, 2014

Awful video here , but good version of song


16. eamonncork - November 15, 2014

And from another musical tradition but an undeniably powerful setting of one of the most powerful texts to emerge from the war.


17. Paul Dillon - November 16, 2014

Half a million boots went slogging through hell


18. eamonncork - November 16, 2014

And a marvellously jaundiced view from the Home Front.


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