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Lyr Req: The Second Front Song (Ewan MacColl)

DigiTrad:
BALLAD OF ACCOUNTING
BRITAIN'S MOTORWAYS
DIRTY OLD TOWN
FAREWELL TO TARWATHIE (2)
GIRLS OF THE SHAMROCK SHORE
GO DOWN, YOU MURDERERS
GOODBY TO THE THIRTY FOOT TRAILER
JOY OF LIVING
MANCHESTER RAMBLER
MY OLD MAN
NOBODY KNEW SHE WAS THERE
NORTH SEA HOLES
SCHOOLDAYS END
SECOND FRONT SONG
SHELLBACK SONG
SHOALS OF HERRING
SONG OF THE IRON ROAD
THE BALLAD OF TIM EVANS
THE FIRST TIME
THE TERROR TIME
THE TROOPER CUT DOWN IN HIS PRIME
THE WEEK YOUR MAN'S AWA' or FISHERMAN'S WIFE


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bradfordian 15 Feb 03 - 09:45 AM
Sorcha 15 Feb 03 - 11:08 AM
Leadfingers 15 Feb 03 - 12:22 PM
Leadfingers 15 Feb 03 - 12:29 PM
Joe Offer 15 Feb 03 - 12:40 PM
GUEST,MCP 15 Feb 03 - 01:31 PM
Leadfingers 15 Feb 03 - 02:15 PM
bradfordian 15 Feb 03 - 02:25 PM
curmudgeon 15 Feb 03 - 02:43 PM
Joe Offer 01 Feb 21 - 07:26 PM
GUEST,# 01 Feb 21 - 07:43 PM
Lighter 02 Feb 21 - 08:46 AM
GUEST,# 02 Feb 21 - 09:21 AM
Charmion 02 Feb 21 - 12:20 PM
GerryM 02 Feb 21 - 04:05 PM
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Subject: Lyr Req: war song
From: bradfordian
Date: 15 Feb 03 - 09:45 AM

The chorus of which is (more or less)

It's here boys, it's here boys, it's the second front for you
In spite of the old atlantic wall, we're the boys to see you through
It won't take long to finish it, once we have got the range
Then we can all go home and live like humans for a change

Brad. (Having tried searching)


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: war song
From: Sorcha
Date: 15 Feb 03 - 11:08 AM

Any more clues? Who, when, etc?


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE SECOND FRONT SONG (Ewan MacColl)
From: Leadfingers
Date: 15 Feb 03 - 12:22 PM

THE SECOND FRONT SONG
written by James Miller aka Ewan MacColl
As sung by Ewan MacColl on "Bundook Ballads" (Topic, 1965)
NOTE: This is NOT a very pro American song.

Now, my boys, if you will listen, I'll sing you a little song.
So sit you down a while here; I'll not detain you long.
I was serving in the infantry, was told I would receive
With all the other blokes a weekend's embarkation leave.

    CHORUS:
    It's here, chum; it's here, chum; it's the Second Front for you.
    In spite of the old Atlantic Wall, we're the boys to see you through.
    It won't take long to finish it, when we have got their range,
    And then we can all go home and live like humans for a change.

So I packed my bag at the double and I was ready soon.
I took my place in an army truck with the rest of my platoon.
Nobody made much noise that trip; the driver he did blind.
We were all too busy thinking of the ones we'd leave behind. CHORUS

When we reached the railway station, the queue was three miles long.
They'd have filled the Wembley Stadium and still left quite a throng.
'It's every man for himself, lads' cried Corporal McShane,
So we rushed that crowd with a roar and tore our way onto the train. CHORUS

We were all packed in the corridor; it was eighty in the shade.
The seats had all been taken by the chewing gum brigade.
They smoked their Camel cigarettes and petted with their Janes,
And looked at us as though we were something crept out of the drains. CHORUS

For eleven long hours we stood there and watched the fields slip by.
We were packed so close we couldn't even smoke, and that's no lie.
And all the time the Yanks talked big and boasted they were tops,
And wrestled with their Judies now and then between the stops. CHORUS

At last the train reached Manchester; the station was Exchange.
It was too late to get a car or bus to Whalley Range
I tried to flag a taxi but I didn't stand a chance.
They'd all been commandeered to take the Yanks home from a dance. CHORUS

I humped my pack upon my back and made to cross the street,
And just escaped a sudden death from a madly driven Jeep,
But the thought of Nelly waiting made happiness arise,
And my heart was beating pleasantly at the thought of her surprise.

I let myself in quietly and tiptoed up the stairs.
The thought of being home again had banished all my cares.
In the bedroom then I murmured: 'Gal, your soldier boy has come',
When a voice replied in sharp surprise: 'Say, Nell, who is this bum?' CHORUS

For a moment I stood speechless there and rooted to the ground,
And then I switched the lights on and what do you think I found?
My little Nell was lying there exposing all her charms
Like the famous whore of Babylon in a Yankee M.P.'s arms. CHORUS

This geezer looked me over and then sat bolt upright.
He was wearing my pyjamas, the ones with the purple stripe.
He made a sudden movement, then tried to grab his gun,
And I landed him a good straight left and stopped his bleeding fun. CHORUS

And then I waded in, my boys, and pasted him like hell.
That bastard lost so many teeth he couldn't even yell.
I kicked him down the stairs, my lads, and out into the street.
That geezer must have thought it was the middle of next week. CHORUS

My story's nearly over; there's little more to tell.
I wasn't wearing any overtures from little Nell.
For every time i think of her, with grief my body fills,
But she'll do all right as long as there's a Yank to pay the bills, CHORUS


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: war song
From: Leadfingers
Date: 15 Feb 03 - 12:29 PM

Brain fade strikes again with regard to the above.One alteration I have to the chorus(very minor,but I always was pedantic)is the line

In spite of their old Atlantic Wall

Tune by the way is almost the same as the Great Lakes song about the passage down from Buffalo to Milwaukee.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: war song
From: Joe Offer
Date: 15 Feb 03 - 12:40 PM

Leadfingers, I think the song you're referring to as the tune source may be The Bigler's Crew. Am I right?
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: Tune Add: THE SECOND FRONT SONG (Ewan MacColl)
From: GUEST,MCP
Date: 15 Feb 03 - 01:31 PM

According to Karl Dallas' Cruel Wars the tune is Musselburgh Fair, and I give his version below.

He has some minor textual differences with Terry's version, different verse order and 1 extra verse. The version there has:

Now my boys if you will listen...
So I packed my bag at the double...
When we reached the railway station...
We were all packed in the corridor...

For eleven long hours we stood there and watched the fields go by
We were packed so close we couldn't even smoke and that's no lie.
And all the time the Yanks talked big and boasted they were tops
And wrestled with their judies now and then between the stops.

At last the train reached Manchester...
I humped my pack upon my back...
I let myself in quietly...
For a moment I stood speechless...
And then I waded in, my boys...
This geezer looked me over...
My story's nearly over...

Mick



X: 1
T:Second Front Song
M:C
L:1/4
C:Words: Ewan MacColl Tune:Musselburgh Fair
S:Dallas - The Cruel Wars
K:DDor
A/ A/|A A A A|A A2 A|A A/ A/ A< E|C3
w:Now my boys if you will lis-ten I'll sing you a lit-tle song
G|G G G> A|G G2 G|D E F G|A3
w:So sit you down a-while here I won't de-tain you long
A/ A/|D D D D|d d d d|c B A G|c3
w:I was se-ving in the in-fan-try was told I would re-ceive
D|F F E E|D E F G|A G F E |D3||
w:With all the oth-er blokes a week-end's em-bar-ka-tion leave
A|A2 D A|A2 D A/ A/|A/ A/ G2 E|C3
w:It's here chums, it's here chums, It's the Se-sond Front for you
F|G> G G< G|G/ G G/ G G/ G/|D E F G|A3
w:In spite of their old At-lan-tic Wall we're the boys to see it through
A|D D D D| d/ d/ d z d|c B A F|c3
w:It won't take long to fin-ish it when we have got their range
E|F F/ F/ E E|D E F G|A G F E|D3||
w:And then we can all go home and live like hu-mans for a change.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: war song (Second Front - MacColl)
From: Leadfingers
Date: 15 Feb 03 - 02:15 PM

Yes indeed Joe-couldnt remember the title but a mate of mine sings Bigglers and I commented on the tune at the time.

Thanks for the extra info Mick I put that lot in from memory and used to have the extra verse you added I have now noted it.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: war song (Second Front - MacColl)
From: bradfordian
Date: 15 Feb 03 - 02:25 PM

Joe, the tune for Bigler's Crew sounds very similar to the tune I remember for the Second Front song. There's an Australian song "Lachlan Tigers" which also has the same tune which I assume is the Scottish Musselburgh Fair.
Thanks Leadfingers, MCP & Joe

Brad (sorry about the political overtones):o(


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: war song (Second Front - MacColl)
From: curmudgeon
Date: 15 Feb 03 - 02:43 PM

The same tune also is used for "Sailing Over the Dogger Banks" and "The Knickerbocker Line."


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Subject: Origins: The Second Front Song (Ewan MacColl)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 01 Feb 21 - 07:26 PM

So, was MacColl the author?

Inconclusive. Here's what Peggy Seeger says in The Essential Ewan MacColl Songbook: Sixty Years of Songmaking (Oak Publications, 2001), pp 306-307:
    THE SECOND FRONT SONG (1943-1944) Ewan always maintained that this song, a racy and concise account of a premature homecoming, was the work of men serving in a regiment of the Black Watch —but it has his unmistakable stamp on it. If I am wrong about this, I would like the real author to come forward. Both during and after the war there was some con?ict between U.S.A. troops and UK. swaddies, fuelled chie?y by the fact that the former had more money than the latter, money with which to buy food and goods unavailable to wartime and post-war Britons. This gave the Yanks an image and privileges which tended to attract British women. Feelings ran high and were not improved by the tact that these foreign troops stayed in Britain quite a long time alter the war (see also “Leave Me, Yankee Man, Leave Me”). By I945, singing of this song was forbidden in pubs frequented by both sets of soldiers and a riot was narrowly averted on VE night when a thousand fighting men defied the authorities by chanting its chorus in the Leeds Civic Centre. tune: traditional English (“The Knickerbocker Line") new words and trad. arr.: Ewan MacColl @ 1978 Ewan MacColl, Ltd. disc 8, 12, 14


THE SECOND FRONT SONG
(Ewan MacColl)

Now me boys, if you will listen, I'll sing you a little song,
So sit you clown awhile here, I won’t detain you long;
I was serving in the infantry, was told I would receive
With all the other blokes a weekends eembarkation leave.

CHORUS
It's here. chum, it's here. chum, it's the Second Front for you,
In spite of their old Atlantic Wall, we're the boys to see it through.
It won’t take long to finish it when we have got their range.
And then we can all go home and live like humans for a change.

I packed me bag at the double and I was ready soon;
I took my place in an army truck with the rest of my platoon.
Nobody made much noise that trip, the driver he did blind,
We were all too busy thinking of the ones we’d left behind.
CHORUS

We reached the railway station, the queue was three miles long;
They'd have ?lled the Wembley Stadium and still left quite a throng.
"It's every man for himself, lads!” cried Corporal McShane;
So we rushed that crowd with a roar and tore our way into the train.

We were all packed in the corridor, it was eighty in the shade;
The seats had all been taken by the chewing—gum brigade.
They smoked their Camel cigarettes and petted with their janes,
And looked at us as though we were something crept out of the drains.

For eleven long hours we stood there and watched the fields go by;
We were packed so close we couldn’t even smoke. and that’s no lie.
And all the time the Yanks talked big and boasted they were tops,
And wrestled with their judies now and then between the stops.

CHORUS

At last the train reached Manchester, the station was Exchange;
It was too late to get a car or bus to Whalley Range.
to flag a taxi but l didn’t stand a chance —
They'd all been commandeered to take the Yanks home from a dance

So I humped me pack upon me back and made to cross the street
And just escaped a sudden death from a madly driven jeep;
But the thought of Nellie waiting there made happiness arise,
And my heart was beating pleasantly at the thought of her surprise.

I let myself in quietly and tiptoed up the stairs—
The thought of being home again had banished all my cares.
In the bedroom then I murmured, “Nell, your soldier boy has come.”
When a voice replied, in sharp surprise, “Say, Nell, who is this bum?”

For a moment I stood speechless and rooted to the ground.
And then I switched the light on, and what do you think I found?
My little Nell was lying there, exposing all her charms
Like the famous whore of Babylon — in a Yankee M.P.’s arms.

CHORUS

This geezer looked me over and then sat bolt upright:
He was wearing my pyjamas (the ones with the purple stripes).
He made a sudden movement and tried to grab his gun,
When I landed him a good straight left and stopped his bleeding fun.

And then I waded in, me boys, and pasted him like hell;
That bastard lost so many teeth he couldn’t even yell.
I kicked him down the stairs, me lads, and out into the street.
That geezer must have thought it was the middle of next week.

My story’s nearly over, there's little left to tell—
I wasn’t wearing any overtures from little Nell.
And every time I think of her, with grief my body fills . . .
But she'll do all right as long as there’s a Yank to pay the bills.

CHORUS



Music note: The chorus is sung to the same tune as the verse, although there are some very different internal rhythms. Despite the fact that this song has the same tune as "Roll Up the Coal Up," there are many different rhythms and inflections needed ot adapt the melody to the text. It is also interesting to see how the same tune can accommodate two such contrasting ideas.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Second Front Song (Ewan MacColl)
From: GUEST,#
Date: 01 Feb 21 - 07:43 PM

Hold the press. There seem to be more stanzas at the following link (and it's credited to MacColl (Miller)).

https://www.antiwarsongs.org/canzone.php?id=47846&lang=en


THE SECOND FRONT SONG
(Ewan MacColl)

Now, my boys, if you will listen, I'll sing you a little song.
So sit you down a while here; I'll not detain you long.
I was serving in the infantry, was told I would receive
With all the other blokes a weekend's embarkation leave.
    It's here, chum; it's here, chum; it's the second front for you.
    In spite of the old Atlantic wall, we're the boys to see you through.
    It won't take long to finish it, when we have got their range,
    And then we can all go home and live like humans for a change.
So I packed my bag at the double and I was ready soon.
I took my place in an army truck with the rest of my platoon.
Nobody made much noise that trip; the driver he did blind.
We were all too busy thinking of the ones we'd leave behind.
    It's here, chum; it's here, chum; it's the second front for you.
    In spite of the old Atlantic wall, we're the boys to see you through.
    It won't take long to finish it, when we have got their range,
    And then we can all go home and live like humans for a change.
When we reached the railway station, the queue was three miles long.
They'd have filled the Wembley Stadium and still left quite a throng.
'It's every man for himself, lads' cried Corporal McShane,
So we rushed that crowd with a roar and tore our way onto the train.
    It's here, chum; it's here, chum; it's the second front for you.
    In spite of the old Atlantic wall, we're the boys to see you through.
    It won't take long to finish it, when we have got their range,
    And then we can all go home and live like humans for a change.
We were all packed in the corridor; it was eighty in the shade.
The seats had all been taken by the chewing gum brigade.
They smoked their Camel cigarettes and petted with their Janes,
And looked at us as though we were something crept out of the drains.
    It's here, chum; it's here, chum; it's the second front for you.
    In spite of the old Atlantic wall, we're the boys to see you through.
    It won't take long to finish it, when we have got their range,
    And then we can all go home and live like humans for a change.
For eleven long hours we stood there and watched the fields slip by.
We were packed so close we couldn't even smoke, and that's no lie.
And all the time the Yanks talked big and boasted they were tops,
And wrestled with their Judies now and then between the stops.
    It's here, chum; it's here, chum; it's the second front for you.
    In spite of the old Atlantic wall, we're the boys to see you through.
    It won't take long to finish it, when we have got their range,
    And then we can all go home and live like humans for a change.
At last the train reached Manchester; the station was Exchange.
It was too late to get a car or bus to Whalley Range
I tried to flag a taxi but I didn't stand a chance.
They'd all been commandeered to take the Yanks home from a dance.
    It's here, chum; it's here, chum; it's the second front for you.
    In spite of the old Atlantic wall, we're the boys to see you through.
    It won't take long to finish it, when we have got their range,
    And then we can all go home and live like humans for a change.
I humped my pack upon my back and made to cross the street,
And just escaped a sudden death from a madly driven Jeep,
But the thought of Nelly waiting made happiness arise,
And my heart was beating pleasantly at the thought of her surprise.

I let myself in quietly and tiptoed up the stairs.
The thought of being home again had banished all my cares.
In the bedroom then I murmured: 'Gal, your soldier boy has come',
When a voice replied in sharp surprise: 'Say, Nell, who is this bum?'
    It's here, chum; it's here, chum; it's the second front for you.
    In spite of the old Atlantic wall, we're the boys to see you through.
    It won't take long to finish it, when we have got their range,
    And then we can all go home and live like humans for a change.
For a moment I stood speechless there and rooted to the ground,
And then I switched the lights on and what do you think I found?
My little Nell was lying there exposing all her charms
Like the famous whore of Babylon in a Yankee M.P.'s arms.
    It's here, chum; it's here, chum; it's the second front for you.
    In spite of the old Atlantic wall, we're the boys to see you through.
    It won't take long to finish it, when we have got their range,
    And then we can all go home and live like humans for a change.
This geezer looked me over and then sat bolt upright.
He was wearing my pyjamas, the ones with the purple stripe.
He made a sudden movement, then tried to grab his gun,
And I landed him a good straight left and stopped his bleeding fun.
    It's here, chum; it's here, chum; it's the second front for you.
    In spite of the old Atlantic wall, we're the boys to see you through.
    It won't take long to finish it, when we have got their range,
    And then we can all go home and live like humans for a change.
And then I waded in, my boys, and pasted him like hell.
That bastard lost so many teeth he couldn't even yell.
I kicked him down the stairs, my lads, and out into the street.
That geezer must have thought it was the middle of next week.
    It's here, chum; it's here, chum; it's the second front for you.
    In spite of the old Atlantic wall, we're the boys to see you through.
    It won't take long to finish it, when we have got their range,
    And then we can all go home and live like humans for a change.
My story's nearly over; there's little more to tell.
I wasn't wearing any overtures from little Nell.
For every time i think of her, with grief my body fills,
But she'll do all right as long as there's a Yank to pay the bills.
    It's here, chum; it's here, chum; it's the second front for you.
    In spite of the old Atlantic wall, we're the boys to see you through.
    It won't take long to finish it, when we have got their range,
    And then we can all go home and live like humans for a change.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Second Front Song (Ewan MacColl)
From: Lighter
Date: 02 Feb 21 - 08:46 AM

It's an anti-American song based on the occasional Brit complaint that GI's were "oversexed, overpaid, and over here."

But nobody in a combat unit, British or American, had much sympathy for rear-echelon Military Police, of which the song's villain is one.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Second Front Song (Ewan MacColl)
From: GUEST,#
Date: 02 Feb 21 - 09:21 AM

I think that was responded to with the remark that the Brits complained because they were "undersexed, underpaid and under Eisenhower."


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Second Front Song (Ewan MacColl)
From: Charmion
Date: 02 Feb 21 - 12:20 PM

News flash: Nobody in any unit, of whichever echelon, from commandos to conchie stretcher-bearers, had much sympathy for the Military Police, who are not called "meatheads" for nothing.

The version posted just above has one stanza that MacColl did not include in his performance of this song on "Bless 'Em All": the one that begins, "And then I waded in, boys, and pasted him like hell".

This song always struck me as a Tommy's revenge fantasy.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Second Front Song (Ewan MacColl)
From: GerryM
Date: 02 Feb 21 - 04:05 PM

As mentioned earlier in this discussion, in Australia the tune was used for Lachlan Tigers, but also for The Station Cook, and for The Great Northern Line, and for The Sandy Hollow Line.


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