Posted 09 November 2002 - 12:31 am
Ivor Novello wrote ‘Keep the Home Fires Burning’ in the early weeks of war, and was premiered in London in September 1914 (I have the exact details somewhere, if you wish) by one of his mother’s pupils, young Vera. It was encored 8 times at that first performance, and instantly achieved ‘hit’ status. “You couldn’t get away from it if you tried” remarked Ivor, as it was played on barrel organs, cinema pianos etc and quickly recorded. Although Lena Guilbert Ford supplied most of the lyrics, ‘Keep the Home Fires Burning’ were Novello’s words, inspired by a (dreadful) patriotic song his mother was trying to compose, entitled ‘Let’s keep the flag a’flying’. The words changed as Novello’s tune emerged from the piano.
Novello then joined the RNAS, but proved much less proficient as a pilot. He was given a desk job at the Admiralty, and as one of the first entertainers to make an official tour to France in March 1915, Novello played ‘Home Fires’ at the base hospitals and rest areas in and around Rouen and Le Havre, again to great acclaim. As Myrtle says, Lena G Ford lost her life due to enemy action; as for Novello, ‘Home Fires’ gave him lifelong fame and fortune, from the age of 21. The official song title is Till the Boys Come Home. It was an inspired composition, especially the lyrics, which matched the public mood perfectly.
Another popular song was the old Boer War hit ‘Goodbye Dolly Gray’.
By the way, could you not change your main character's name to Michael and make someone happy (I know you would get several extra sales!!)