Like "Red Wing" transformed by Woody Guthrie into "Union Maid," this song's place in history is probably better secured by a parody: T-Bone Slim's "The Popular Wobbly," which appeared in the legendary Little Red Songbook of the IWW. But it's enough of an earworm that it still gets performed occasionally with the original lyrics--which were, after all, pretty parodic to begin with.
Joseph McCarthy, the lyricist, also collaborated on "I'm Always Chasing Rainbows" (another wartime song I vaguely mean to work up at some point) and "Alice Blue Gown," among others. And Fred Fisher, the composer, left a pretty hefty legacy of memorable tunes, what with "Peg O' My Heart," "Chicago," "Your Feet's Too Big" and (my favorite; I do go for the silly ones) "Come Josephine in My Flying Machine." Fisher's family name was Breitenbach, which he changed to "Fischer" when he immigrated to the U.S. from Cologne. The "c" in that invented name went missing during the War, when like many other Americans of German background he was doing what he could to disguise his heritage. Popular prejudices ran deep, and were known to turn violent.
I can't hear or sing this song without vividly imagining it being performed in a vaudeville setting. Maybe that's why, although it's not remotely connected with the war drums of 1917, it evokes that year for me as well as any other selection I can think of.
Edited by Bob Michel, 19 October 2015 - 02:57 PM.