Over There

Lyrics by

George M Cohan


Johnny, get your gun, get your gun, get your gun.
Take it on the run, on the run, on the run.
Hear them calling you and me,
Every Son of Liberty.
Hurry right away, no delay, go today.
Make your Daddy glad to have had such a lad.
Tell your sweetheart not to pine,
To be proud her boy's in line.


Johnny, get your gun, get your gun, get your gun.
Johnny, show the "Hun" you're a son-of-a-gun.
Hoist the flag and let her fly
Yankee Doodle do or die.
Pack your little kit, show your grit, do your bit.
Yankee to the ranks from the towns and the tanks
Make your Mother proud of you
And the old red-white-and-blue

(Chorus)

Over there, over there,
Send the word, send the word over there
That the Yanks are coming, the Yanks are coming
The drums rum-tumming everywhere.
So prepare, say a prayer,
Send the word, send the word to beware –
We'll be over, we're coming over,
And we won't come back till it's over, over there.

"Over There" is a 1917 song written by George M. Cohan, that was popular with the United States military and public during both world wars. It is a patriotic song designed to galvanize American young men to enlist in the army and fight the "Hun". The song is best remembered for a line in its chorus: "The Yanks are coming."

George M. Cohan, a successful Broadway producer, playwright, performer, lyricist and composer, wrote "Over There" on his way into work. The headlines that inspired him the morning of April 6, 1917, were not ordinary. They announced that the U.S. had abandoned its isolationist policy and entered World War I on the side of the Allied Powers against the Central Powers (Germany, Austro-Hungary, Bulgaria and the Ottoman Empire).

Cohan’s gingery song took its opening verse "Johnny, get your gun" from a popular American song published in 1886. He based his music on a three note bugle call. Although Cohan tested the song on a group of military men at Fort Meyers, Florida, without much success, the general public loved it.

"Over There" was first performed publicly in the fall of 1917 by Charles King at a Red Cross benefit in New York. But it was the popular singer and comedienne Nora Bayes who made the song famous. Cohan, it is said, personally chose her to premiere his song on stage. Bayes also recorded "Over There" for the Victor Talking Machine Company on July 13, 1917 (in a 78 rpm format). Other of Bayes’ contemporaries who recorded the song include the operatic tenor Enrico Caruso and recording artist Billy Murray.

 

By the end of the war over two million copies of sheet music of the song were sold.

President Wilson described "Over There" as "a genuine inspiration to all American manhood" and Cohan remained unwavering in his patriotic fervor. However, a significant number of artists and performers grew increasingly disillusioned with a war in which 9,000,000 individuals lost their lives (117,000 of whom were Americans).