We’ll Meet Again: The Love Songs of World War II
Smithsonian, two CDs $32.97 , CODE: SMP-1 ; two cassettes $29.97 , CODE: SMP-2
The songs in this marvelous collection, writes the music historian Robert Bamberger in the excellent explanatory pamphlet that accompanies it, “cannot be mistaken, or burdened, to tell all we want and need to know about that time. But there is still much that these songs do tell, and what they obscure may not be as important as what they illuminate. Though not shared memory itself, the love songs of World War II are a window into its heart, against the day that is coming, when remembrance is second-hand.”
It’s extraordinary, the artless power these songs can exert fifty years later. While a sometime rouser like “Goodbye Mama, Fm Off to Yokohama,” has become the quaintest of period pieces, Peggy Lee singing the number from which the album takes its title can break your heart. It may not be surprising to find that Bing Crosby’s canny, honeyed fluency doesn’t age much, but how nice to rediscover the melancholy ease of the Ink Spots singing “Don’t Get Around Much Any More.”
There are forty-two songs on this album, and every one is worth listening to. Even the silliest of them (probably “Ma, I Miss Your Apple Pie,” by the Jesters) is both sweetened and magnified by the tremendous time whose travails and yearnings it helped express.