Sunday, March 18, 2012

Marching Orders

G.P. Lewis. Women war workers packing lamp bulbs, 1918. © IWM Item (Q 28172)
Dear Readers,
I write to beg your pardon for a brief hiatus here at "Ghosts of 1914." An unexpectedly sudden--but positive and exciting!--need to move has come to my husband and myself. Right now, we are packing and packing, ready to mobilize our little household and head to Western shores. I'll soon be writing from California, my native state. Though the times they are a changin' in some regards, I'll still be working on my dissertation and will still be energetically traveling the highways and byways of  the global-British experience of WWI. I hope you'll continue to join me for our journeys into this compelling  and persistently resonant area of modern history.

W.A. Fry (after), "There's Room for YOU," Australia, ca 1914-18. © IWM (Art.IWM PST 12246)

Please be patient and do stay tuned for my next post, which should pop up in about a week, once our feet are on Californian ground.

The stories will continue to be told and the ghosts will continue to be summoned...

With warm thanks for reading,

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Mods, Rockers, and Ghosts

A musical musing today for my readers: I'm listening to British band The Kinks' brilliant 1969 album Arthur: Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire as I work on some writing projects this morning. While the entire album is worth a listen or fifty for many reasons, this song struck me as particularly resonant for those of us fascinated by the ghosts of 1914:

Two soldiers fighting in a trench
One soldier glances up to see the sun
And dreams of games he played when he was young
And then his friend calls out his name
It stops his dream and as he turns his head
A second later he is dead
The full lyrics to "Some Mother's Son" are here

Another song from the same era is The Zombies' nightmarish "Butcher's Tale (Western Front 1914)," written in 1968. The Guardian's Jon Savage writes about this piece:
"This is a serious song about an extremely serious subject that succeeds because of its restraint and complete synchronicity of form with content, of music with lyric, of feeling with imagination. The Zombies did not experience the western front, but they projected themselves into a terrible event with all the considerable talent at their disposal. "


The Great War and its ghosts certainly do have a lengthy and multifaceted afterlife and it is fascinating to explore the moments and places at which they manifest, even fifty or a hundred years on in time. May the music offer you some food for thought or some accompaniment to your projects today...

© Fiona Robinson