by Charlton “Chuck” Stanley
It is late and I am too tired to post anything profound. As I sit here and think of those dark days of WW2, when it was not at all clear the Allies were winning or losing, a few brilliant spots shone through the darkness falling over the land. Vera Lynn was one of those bright spots.
I grew up listening to British singer Vera Lynn during WW2. She was barely out of her teens when she recorded timeless songs about separation, hope, and lovers separated by the war. One of her signature songs during those dark days was, The White Cliffs of Dover.
Another was the poignant, We’ll Meet Again, recorded at a time where empty seats and overturned glasses were a nightly occurrence at mess hall tables every evening. It was written by Ross Parker and Hughie Charles. The nostalgic lyrics spoke to a generation of young people whose every goodbye kiss might well have been their last kiss or hug: “We’ll meet again, don’t know where, don’t know when, but I know we’ll meet again some sunny day”
After the war, her career as a singer continued, peaking in the early fifties. However, she continued to make appearances, and about 1969, she was Ennobled by the Queen as Dame Vera Lynn That honor and title are the feminine version of being knighted. Remarkably, Vera Lynn was rediscovered by the public at age 93, and her music took off again. Perhaps being involved in a war again had something to do with it. At any rate, she holds the distinction of being the oldest performer to have top hit recordings over such a huge span of her lifetime.
Although her pop music career had peaked ten years earlier, in 1962 she did a concert in the Netherlands. Two of her iconic songs have been preserved as Kinescope recordings. Hopefully, one day some enterprising video technician will remaster them to modern video standards. One was Land of Hope and Glory, one of the several National Anthems of England. It was composed by Edward Elgar and most people know it as Pomp and Circumstance. Elgar got his friend, poet A. C. Benson, to write lyrics. The new tune was presented at the coronation of Edward VII as king of England. in 1902.
At the time of her 1962 concert in the Netherlands, Vera Lynn was a the height of her vocal powers at the age of 45. This is the national anthem, Land of Hope and Glory:
However, I saved the best for last. This is Vera Lynn singing, Because You’re Mine. It is almost embarrassing to watch this. The emotion in this song is palpable. I feel as if I am almost peeking into their bedroom. I don’t think she could have made this performance unless she were deeply in love. BTW, she lost her husband in 1999. She had been married to fellow musician Harry Lewis 60 years.