It’s one of those songs that we’ve all known forever. Published in 1921, the lyrics by Raymond B. Egan and Gus Kahn, music by Richard A. Whiting, and recorded here by Gus Van and Joe Schenck, the song had first been performed in 1920 in the Fanchon and Marco revue Satires of 1920.
Should we hear this song as a veiled protest song? George Orwell, in The Road to Wigan Pier, seems to suggest that we might do so:
All through the war and for a little time afterwards there had been high wages and abundant employment; things were now returning to something worse than normal, and naturally the working class resisted. The men who had fought had been lured into the army by gaudy promises, and they were coming home to a world where there were no jobs and not even any houses. Moreover, they had been at war and were coming home with a soldier’s attitude to life, which is fundamentally, in spite of discipline, a lawless attitude. There was a turbulent feeling in the air.
Note to myself: add this to our forthcoming book on protest songs. Yep … 🙂