Education

"Good-Bye Broadway, Hello France," Sheet Music, 1917


Historical Context
During the WWI years, almost every family had a piano with at least one person who knew how to play it.  For this reason, sheet music helped the American government mobilize the nation for war. The music that came out during World War I was used as a propaganda tool to help convince people to help the war effort in a variety of ways including enlistment, help with financing the war, support for the Allies, hatred of the enemy, pushing messages of hope/optimism, etc. When the U.S. first went to war, anti-war sentiment was still quite strong among the American citizens, so the government created the Committee on Public Information to help convince Americans to aid the war effort. George Creel was in charge of this committee that employed 75,000 "four-minute men" to get propaganda messages out to the American people (often using music as a tool.)  Americans were urged to sing the new patriotic songs that were written, often using the word “we” to make people feel involved in the war effort. Singing took place in the home, in theaters, during community events, and at rallies with marching bands and popular singers in attendance. Songbooks of patriotic music were given out to audiences in music halls and even to the troops. Sheet music was advertised in newspapers and samples of new songs were given out with the Sunday paper. The covers of the sheet music were also chosen to specifically help push the patriotic messages the government was trying to send to the American people.  Even though the music didn’t always have accurate data about what was going on abroad, it did inspire patriotism and hope and was very popular.  Many people in the music industry became very rich during the war years because the sheet music was so well-liked.  One music publisher, Leo Feist, claimed that music would help win the war and based on the amount of music that came out during this time and the impact that it had on the war effort, it seems as though he was right.



This song was one of the most popular songs during WWI.  It was written in 1917 by C. Francis Reisner and Benny Davis and used music composed by Billy Baskette. The song was introduced in the stage musical The Passing Show of 1917 at New York's Winter Garden.  The song had lots of references to women being left behind, as well as Miss Liberty. It goes on to talk about Pershing’s landing in France and brings in references to Lafayette’s help during the American Revolution.  
Essential Question
How is music used to influence people's opinions?

 
Check for Understanding
Explain the message of this song using evidence from the song.
[click to enlarge]
Sheet music cover, "Goodbye Broadway, Hello France", New York State Library, NYSL_SCO3018
Document Description
Cover from Broadway Musical, "Good-Bye Broadway, Hello France," 1917.
Questions
  1. What main sentiments are expressed in this song?
  2. What groups/people does the song say goodbye to?
  3. Do the lyrics seem to represent a sad goodbye? If not, what type of mood does the song portray? What do the lyrics promise?
  4. What symbols are used on the cover to represent the American soldier? What symbols are used to represent the French soldier?
  5. How can you tell the war is already being fought based on the cover of this song?
  6. Do you think Pershing’s landing in France and the sending of American troops following that landing served as a repayment of a debt owed to France? Why or why not?
  7. What mood does this song evoke for people who are singing it?
  8. How would you categorize this song in terms of its main goal during the WWI years?
Historical Challenge
Research Lafayette’s role in the American Revolution and compare this to Pershing’s role during WWI.
Interdisciplinary Connections
Music: Sing the song with piano accompaniment.
Art: Design a new cover for this song.
Resources
  1. Duffy, Michael. “A Multimedia History of World War One.” firstworldwar.com. 2000-09. Retrieved from:

    http://www.firstworldwar.com/audio/goodbyebroadway.htm
  2. Parlor Songs. “World War One in American Song Part 1: A Call To Arms, Going to War.” 1997-2010. Retrieved from:

    http://parlorsongs.com/issues/2000-11/2000-11b.php
  3. Wells K. A. “Music as War Propaganda: Did Music Help Win The First World War?,” 1997-2010. Retrieved from:

    http://parlorsongs.com/issues/2004-4/thismonth/feature.php