October 13

Yesteryear’s Chart Toppers 4: There’s A Star Spangled Banner Waving Somewhere (WWII)

Time to don your patriotic cape with Elton Britt’s There’s A Star Spangled Banner Waving Somewhere; a sure spark to flare up your nationalistic spirit. While there were many other songs that became hits in the 1940’s, not even one was able to surpass the fame and multi-million sales of the aforementioned. Not a surprising feat for a song written by Paul Roberts and Shelby Darnell during the World War II.


The “somewhere” of the title appears to have a couple of referents: it seems to signify heaven, for, as the lyrics state, only the great heroes of Uncle Sam get to go there. The narrator states he’ll see Lincoln, Custer, Washington, Perry, “Nathan Hale and Colin Kelley [a recent air ace] too!” This nicely unites the sense of transcendence with the sacrifice of the Patriots. Later we discover that the narrator is “crippled,” but he wants to “bring the Axis down a peg” and be a hero. If that happens, he will be assured a place in “that heaven” where the Star-Spangled Banner is waving. The somewhere could also signify the country itself or any part of the free world. In the second stanza, he talks of the “mad schemes of destruction” unleashed on “sweet liberty” by dictators. He adds that he is willing to die to “be a free American” and wherever that Star-Spangled Banner is waving is where he wants to be living when his time to die is at hand.

(lifted from folkarchive.de by Timothy E. Scheurer)


 Still a teen in the 1930’s, he began touring and performing musically around the country. Aside from his mellow vocals, he made quite a reputation as a yodeling singer. He then managed to have marginal success and even secured a recording deal at the end of the decade. But when his rendition of the There’s A Star Spangled Banner Waving Somewhere turned into the biggest hit among others in 1942, the late President Roosevelt invited him to perform it in the White House.

For about two more decades, he remained active in his singing career until his repose in 1972. A bit short-lived compared with other singers yet one that was worth his while with over 600 singles and 60 albums.

Well then folks, don’t keep the pleasure of this tune to yourself. Pass it to your grandpa’s and great uncles. It will sure transport them back to their era.


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