Following up their number one smash, ‘Jingle Jangle Jingle,’ in the summer of 1942, Kay Kyser & His Orchestra continued in their winning ways with another popular, war-themed hit, ‘Praise The Lord And Pass The Ammunition!!,’ released on Columbia Records seventy years ago today. Written by Tin Pan Alley song man Frank Loesser, who would later compose the music for such Broadway blockbusters as Guys And Dolls and How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying; ‘Praise The Lord And Pass The Ammunition!!’ reached all the way to number two in late October 1942, with only Bing Crosby’s unstoppable ‘White Christmas’ – then in the midst of its 11-week run at the top – keeping Kyser and Co. from reclaiming the number one spot for a second time that year.
An enduring classic from the war years, the song was composed by Loesser in the aftermath of the attacks on Pearl Harbor and, despite some artistic license taken with the lyrics, was based on true events and a true turn of phrase uttered during the December 7 assaults. ‘Praise The Lord And Pass The Ammunition!!’ began as a rallying cry repeated by Lt. Howell M. Forgy, chaplain aboard the USS New Orleans(CA-32), who shouted the future song title during the attack to urge the crew members to keep up the fight. Both Lt. Forgy and the New Orleans would survive the attacks and the war. Forgy’s words would also provide audiences with one of the great patriotic songs and slogans of the period.
Click below to hear Kay Kyser’s big hit.
Post by Collin Makamson, Red Ball Express Coordinator at The National WWII Museum
The Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans was certainly hopping during the war. Seventy years ago today on 2 October 1942, New Orleans jazz legends trumpeter Bunk Johnson and clarinetist George Lewis recorded Big Chief Battle Axe for WSMB broadcasting station (New Orleans’ first professional radio station founded in 1925).
Born in Okemah, Oklahoma on 14 July 1912, the revered American songwriter Woodrow Wilson Guthrie would have celebrated his hundredth birthday today; centennial tributes abound, including a This Land is Your Land Tribute concert at the Kennedy Center schduled forOctober. In honor of the anniversary, we’d like to feature the song The Sinking of the Reuben James, which Guthrie wrote to memorialize the sailors who gave their lives on the destroyer, the USS Reuben James. On 31 October 1941, the Reuben James was underway near Iceland escorting a convoy en route to Britain when she was sunk by U-552. Of the crew, 44 survived and 115 perished. Guthrie wrote the song soon after the attack and it was recorded in 1942 for the album Dear Mr. President by the Almanac Singers (which included Pete Seeger). Initially an isolationist left-wing group, after the Nazi invasion of Russia, the Almanac Singers recorded songs like the Deliver the Goods and Round and Round Hitler’s Grave urging American intervention.
In 1943, Guthrie signed on as a merchant seaman and made several voyages and lifelong friends. On these voyages, Guthrie would often perform for his crewmates, including the song The Sinking of the Reuben James. Guthrie wrote many songs during this time about the fightagainst fascism and oppression including All You Fascists are Bound to Lose, Tear the Fascists Down, Talking Merchant Marine, Life Belt Washed up on the Shore, and Miss Pavlichenko, about the famed Soviet sniper Lyudmila Pavlichenko. Thanks for these songs and a happy birthday to Woody Guthrie.
Post by Curator Kimberly Guise.
The National WWII Museum tells the story of the American Experience in the war that changed the world - why it was fought, how it was won, and what it means today - so that all generations will understand the price of freedom and be inspired by what they learn.