Sometimes, when I’m doing research or writing, I’ll listen to music that inspires the mood that I’m trying to evoke. If I’m writing about a specific period, I’ll try and listen to music from that period. As I research WWI, I have been listening to music from the era. One song pops up a lot: “Till the Boys Come Home“. The recordings of this song are rousing, but the lyrics are heartbreaking:
They were summoned from the hillside
They were called in from the glen,
And the country found them ready
At the stirring call for men.
Let no tears add to their hardships
As the soldiers pass along,
And although your heart is breaking
Make it sing this cheery song:
Keep the Home Fires Burning,
While your hearts are yearning,
Though your lads are far away
They dream of home.
There’s a silver lining
Through the dark clouds shining,
Turn the dark cloud inside out
‘Til the boys come home.
I can picture mothers and wives singing this song to themselves as they watch songs and husbands march away, and worry that they will never see them again but try desperately not to let their boys see them cry. When I look at these lyrics, that’s what I hear, not the rousing versions that we recorded, but the sad lonely voice using this song to keep the tears from her eyes.