According to where you chance to be in the world, yesterday was Armistice Day, Remembrance Day or Veterans Day; in the UK and its remaining colonies, today is Remembrance Sunday. The names may vary, but all derive from the same moment: the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, when the guns fell silent in 1918, and "the war to end all wars" was over.
On today's audio edition of our Song of the Week, we celebrate a sentimental song that was, without question, the favourite song of the war years - for the boys in the trenches on the western front, and for the girls waiting at home for their return. It is, as I say on the show, an old-fashioned song, yet it has endured across a century, its power acknowledged in Noël Coward's Private Lives and telly's Downton Abbey. In this episode, I talk to the composer's son, the late Nat Ayer Jr, who shares vivid childhood memories of the song's creation, including its original title - and we'll hear it sung by everyone from Louis Prima and Barbra Streisand to romantic novelist Dame Barbara Cartland and British Commonwealth boxing champ Henry Cooper.
Click above to listen.
This is a Serenade Radio show that has not been heard before here at SteynOnline. All these episodes were produced by my friend and colleague Brian Savin, who died a few weeks ago after a truly terrible and debilitating illness - and whose funeral I was unable to attend because I was supposed to be on trial at the District of Columbia Superior Court. But, just as I touched down in Washington, the wretched judge (one Alfred Irving) decided to postpone the trial, so I missed Brian's funeral for no reason at all - just one other thing for which I shall curse Judge Irving until the end of my days.
Damn, this show is just too good.
And from David, a California Steyn Clubber:
Hell of a yarn, Mark. Thanks as always.
Thanks to you, David.
~This airing of Steyn's Serenade Song of the Week is a special presentation of The Mark Steyn Club. We do enjoy your comments on the show. Steyn Clubbers are welcome to leave them below - or anybody can leave them over at Serenade Radio, where they love hearing from listeners.
Steyn's Song of the Week airs thrice weekly on Serenade Radio in the UK, one or other of which broadcasts is certain to be convenient for whichever part of the world you're in:
5.30pm Sunday London (12.30pm New York)
5.30am Monday London (4.30pm Sydney)
9pm Thursday London (1pm Vancouver)
Whichever you prefer, you can listen from anywhere on the planet right here.