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Tag: Irving Berlin

Facial Hair Friday: A Musical Interlude

We interrupt our usual hairy programming to bring you this musical interlude.

What could be so important that we would skip mustaches, beards, and goatees?

Well, today marks the anniversary of the Washington, DC, premiere of This Is the Army, with songs written (and one performed) by Irving Berlin.

You would easily recognize Irving Berlin’s songs “God Bless America,” “White Christmas” and “Putting on the Ritz.” But the citizens and soldiers of 1943 would have easily recognized ”Oh! How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning.”

When World War II broke out, Irving Berlin was already a very successful songwriter. During World War I, he had been drafted by the Army to raise morale through music, which he successfully did with his musical Yip! Yip! Yaphank. Now, three decades later, Berlin was ready to do the same for his adopted country again.

The result was the musical production This Is the Army. Although Laurence Bergreen notes in this Prologue article, “And in case the army didn’t like it, he had another title in reserve: This Is the Navy. Or the Air Corps. Whatever. But his heart was with the army.”

One of the most interesting aspects of the show was that the performers were soldiers, and this company was integrated. Originally minstrel-style songs had been sung by white performers in blackface in Yip! Yip! [ Read all ]