Vera Lynn

(June 2020)

103? I had no idea Vera Lynn hadn’t been long gone when people began writing tributes to her on Facebook. You just automatically associate her with the Blitz in WW2, Londoners traipsing down the long stairs underground into the Underground to wait out another night of Luftwaffe bombing and singing her hit We’ll Meet Again. It was to the Brits what White Christmas and Over the Rainbow were to Americans. You know those two, but Americans will likely remember We’ll Meet Again only from the closing shots of Dr. Strangelove, Vera Lynn’s voice over one nuclear explosion after another. The historical irony is lost on most viewers now, though, the Battle of Britain was eight decades ago. But it’s still a nice song, with a chorus that hangs with you a long time. Her recording of it, perfectly timed in 1939 as the men were mobilizing for war again, was a sweet delicate little thing, a little frail even, with a faintly ridiculous solo on one of those organs you’d hear in 1940’s soap operas. Within a year or two the song had swelled into a vast voiced thing, Vera singing along with hundreds of voices, whether civilians in bomb shelters or men in uniform, as in the movie clip below, and I suspect this is the arrangement many of her British mourners remember, and I hope they’ll forgive any of my inaccuracies here. Rest In Peace, Vera Lynn.