Over There! and Back Again: Patriotic American
Sheet Music from World War I

Selections from the
Wade Hall Sheet Music Collection

The W.S. Hoole Special Collections Library
The University of Alabama

Exhibit by:
Jessica Lacher-Feldman,
W.S. Hoole Special Collections Library
and Daniel Goldmark, School of Music,
The University of Alabama




Wartime Hits!

Like the War Between the States and the Revolutionary War before it, certain songs associated with American wars resonated especially well and became extremely popular with the public. Unlike the previous conflicts, the songs written during World War I became a huge commercial business, selling hundreds of thousands of copies at a time. No song had more of a hold on the American people than a song written in April 1917, on the very day the United States declared war: George M. Cohan’s “Over There.” This song sold more than two million music sheets and another one million recordings, including versions by Nora Bayes, Enrico Caruso, and the American Quartet.

Some of the other hits shows here include “Oh How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning,” one of Irving Berlin’s numerous contributions to the patriotic song oeuvre, and “Keep the Home Fires Burning” by English composer Ivor Novello, an enormous hit in 1916.




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