Songs about War on Ukulele

In Australia and New Zealand it is Anzac Day on 25 April and in 2018 we will be remembering the final year of WWI, as well as later conflicts. This year it is the one hundredth anniversary of the battle at Villers-Bretonneux where the Australians had a major victory after so much loss and there will be commemorations at the Australian National Memorial on that site in France on April 25. At these times singing songs is an appropriate way to remember such events. The following songs about war sound great on the ukulele, whether they are about the sad or happier times.

One of the most powerful war songs is The Band played Waltzing Matilda written by Scottish Aussie, Eric Bogle in 1971. It’s about the Gallipoli campaign of 1915 but could be about the horror of any war and that is why it has become so popular in other countries. Silly Dave does a good version. And by the way, matilda is the swag or the bed roll carried by a swagman on his journeys and not a woman.

A song that was popular with the troops in France during WWI was Mademoiselle from Armentieres. It is probably one of those songs where soldiers kept making up humorous verses to suit the occasion. Some were quite risqué and many were in protest to the awful conditions or the behaviour of superior officers. Here is an amusing example.

By WWII the radio played an important part in keeping up the soldiers’ morale. One of the happiest songs was Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy sung by the Andrews Sisters. The Rocky Mountain Ukulele Orchestra Trio did a lively version with nice harmonies in 2013.

During the Vietnam War there were many great songs written about war. One that captures the mood of the 60s is Eve of Destruction, performed by Barry McGuire in 1965. Sadly the words are still relevant today. Ken Middleton did a terrific version at Martha’s Vineyard Uke Fest in 2015.

There are many war songs from different periods to choose from if you want to have a sing-along on Anzac Day and this is just a selection.

Happy Anzac Day!

Kat, Bayside Ukes Member

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