By Numbers

Graphing trends of war-time music

The tunes of the war from "The White Cliffs of Dover" to "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" have given a lasting impression of America's wartime sonic landscape. So too, the lyrics of these songs and their relative recurrence or rarity highlight changing perspectives on the war over time (Cooper 1994; Smith 2003; Jones 2006). Below is an exploration of our collection's over 200 78's of popular music reflecting on the war recorded and released during the five years of official American involvement. For this analysis singles were organized by year, their lyrics were compiled, and these corpora were analyzed for word frequency. The graphs below do not give a comprehensive overview of trends in all popular wusic of the war. Rather, these charts give a glimpse into how, in our collection, the vocabulary of the war in popular culture changed through song. Swipe through each year to see the dynamic nature of language in popular music.

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Works Cited

Cooper, B. Lee. “From ‘Love Letters’ to ‘Miss You’: Popular Recordings, Epistolary Imagery, and Romance during War-Time, 1941-1945.” The Journal of American Culture 19:4, 1996: 15–27.

Jones, John Bush. The Songs That Fought the War : Popular Music and the Home Front, 1939-1945. Waltham, Mass.: Brandeis University Press, 2006.

Smith, Kathleen E.R. God Bless America: Tin Pan Alley Goes to War. Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 2003.