There are many songs, you could call them folklore I guess, which are all but forgotten. Some were put on disk years ago but most have been lost or consigned to very old, obscure songbooks. Such as the various ‘Songs from Aldermaston’ sung on the long marches between the nuclear bomb base and London.
There are also old songs which circulated, some on tiny 78s I believe, before the Second World War which have been lost or forgotten. Many of these would now be considered politically incorrect for various reasons, but they are historical artefacts like the peace movement songs mentioned above, which are also very dated. Some of the peace movement songs, like ‘Family of Man’ and ‘Go Limp’ would also nowadays be considered politically incorrect. The first because of its sexist language, and the second because it’s about a daughter being warned by her mother not to go on a CND march as she might lose her virginity. She does, and gets pregnant by a bearded marcher because she remembers her briefing for sit-down demos when the police arrest you and uses it when seduced: ‘Go perfectly limp and be carried away’.
There are also, of course, the many old jingles used in the early TV adverts, long before the boring and confusing ones nowadays for comparison sites and others on the Internet. These are part of our past culture and I remember loads of them for products like Germolene, Hoover, Murraymints, Double Diamond, Esso, Windolene, Mazda light bulbs, Typhoo tea, etc., etc.
I’ve now, with the help of my mobile/cell phone, put 36 of the peace songs on YouTube:: http://www.youtube.com/user/antonyjohn?feature=watch. Scroll down to next pages and look for CND songs. I’m no singer, the voice is shaky at times and I had no musical accompaniment, but I felt it important these songs should not be lost forever as few people remember them nowadays. They helped many tired feet on the long marches, and raised spirits when we sat down blockading nuclear bases or London streets waiting to be arrested. Sadly shouting of ugly slogans on demos replaced these songs, and the jazz bands, guitars and other musical instruments which used to be on all the marches.
There are also many Socialist and progressive songs, but many of these are preserved on records or CDs. However I’ve also recorded some of these with my mobile/cell phone – obvious ones like The Red Flag, The Internationale, Bandiera Rossa (the Red Flag of Italy), but also more obscure ones like England Arise!, Harry Was A Bolshie (about Harold Pollitt, the Stalinist ex-leader of the British Communist Party), Red Fly The Banners-O, etc.
I haven’t yet consigned the old advertising jingles to mp4 files on my PC, but will probably do so as they too are part of a culture being forgotten of the early days of commercial television.
There are also the old music hall songs, though these too are preserved on recordings to a large extent. Some are probably not, so I may do mp4s of some of the more obscure ones like ‘One Sunday Over The Lea’ (my boyfriend did it to me… he did it once, he did it twice, then he had the cheek to say it weren’t nice) about a girl getting pregnant over by the River Lea in East London. This and other old songs were revived by the late Dockyard Doris who did music hall in drag along with others like the late Phil Starr in a pub in Hackney.
There are also the alternative versions, usually very vulgar, of popular songs of the day. Such as ‘Lady of Spain’, ‘Catch a Falling Star’, the Popeye cartoon song ‘I’m Popeye The Sailorman’ which we taught each other in the school playground. Michael Holliday’s ‘Catch a Falling Star’ came out at the time of the first Soviet sputnik which astounded the world and shocked the USA, spurring the Space Race and worries about nuclear bombs put into orbit. We changed the lyrics to: ‘Catch a falling Sputnik, put it in a matchbox, send it to the USA’. What Popeye the sailor did in a caravan and a frying-pan I’ll leave to your imagination for the moment, as also what we wanted to do with the lady of Spain.
All part of our past culture and consigned to history, but perhaps some of it at least should be preserved in some format before those that remember it are also consigned to history.