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Lyrics of "Over There" (1917, by George M. Cohan)

LYRICS OF "OVER THERE" (1917, by George M. Cohan)

Penned by George M. Cohan during the earliest days of the United States' involvement in the Great War (World War I), "Over There" stands as an artifact of a more innocent time. By 1917, the war in Europe had entered its third year, and the levels of bloodshed and cruel devastation unleashed by this new mechanized conflict had reached unimaginable levels. (During the Battle of the Somme in France, some sixty thousand British soldiers were killed in a single day. That was unimaginable, except that another sixty thousand had already been killed in April at Ypres, mostly by gas. Tens of thousands more died at Loos when the British's own chlorine canisters blew back into their trenches.) But for the so-called doughboys of the United States Army, something like Old World esprit de corps was still possible. "Over There" was the greatest of the wartime propaganda songs, made famous by the singer Noya Bayes, and recorded dozens of times, once by the opera star Enrico Caruso. By 1918, and the end of hostilities in the European theater, more than a hundred thousand Americans had lost their lives. In 1940, President Franklin D. Roosevelt awarded Cohan a special Medal of Honor for his contribution to the cause in World War I.

Laura M.Miller,
Vanderbilt University

See also Music: Popular ; World War I .

Johnnie get your gun, get your gun, get your gun,
Take it on the run, on the run, on the run;
Hear them calling you and me;
Every son of liberty.
Hurry right away, no delay, go today,
Make your daddy glad, to have had such a lad,
Tell your sweetheart not to pine,
To be proud her boy's in line.


Over there, over there,
Send the word, send the word over there,
That the Yanks are coming, the Yanks are coming,
The drums rum-tumming everywhere.
So prepare, say a prayer,
Send the word, send the word to beware,
We'll be over, we're coming over,
And we won't come back till it's over over there.
Johnnie get your gun, get your gun, get your gun,
Johnnie show the Hun, you're a son-of-a-gun,
Hoist the flag and let her fly,
Like true heroes do or die.
Pack your little kit, show your grit, do your bit,
Soldiers to the ranks from the towns and the tanks,
Make your mother proud of you,
And to liberty be true.

SOURCE: Cohan, George M. "Over There." New York: Leo Feist, 1917.

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