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«Resisting war priorities in song: a comparison of Britain and France»

Abstract : «Resisting war priorities in song: a comparison of Britain and France» Colloque Resistance to War 1914-1924, Université de Leeds, 18-20 mars 2016. Resisting war priorities in song: a comparison of Britain and France To understand the expression of dissent or the lack of such expression in wartime popular song, we need to put the song back into the society and the social circles where it was performed. I'm going to look first at British music hall song, then British soldier songs, before going on to compare them with their French counterparts. Music hall was the most popular entertainment in Britain in 1914, and the centre of gravity of the musical experience of the masS of the population. Much cheaper than the theatre, much more raucous than the ballad concert or the classical concert, it was the solid favourite among factory workers whether men or women, soldiers on leave, domestic servants, office clerks and shop assistants. It is well known that the very word « jingoism » was invented in reference to a 19th century music hall song, and first world war music hall has been much criticized for supposedly having a glorious or trivially enthusiastic view of war. Siegfried Sassoon wrote a poem denouncing this, J B Priestley attacked it fiercely in his autobiography, and the influential musical show « Oh What a Lovely War », written in the 1960s but much revived for the centenary, also shows music hall as naively warlike and patriotic. It is understandable that we expect a lot of information from looking at music hall. Large numbers of working class people singing along in unison in one of their favourite places, along with their very own stars, who were often themselves brought up in poverty-Harry and Ernie and Marie and Florrie-singing in working class accents on neighbourly themes: surely what they were singing will tell us much about popular attitudes to the war?
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John Mullen. «Resisting war priorities in song: a comparison of Britain and France». Resistance to War 1914-1924, Mar 2016, Leeds, United Kingdom. ⟨hal-02465375⟩

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