The documentary The War, by Ken Burns has been aired multiple nights over the past few weeks on PBS stations in the United States. Once again, Ken Burns has exhibited exceptional sensitivities towards the recalling and redaction of the Second World War in a superlative and historically correct manner. Throughout each episode the music that accompanies each episode is a vignette of the sometimes chaotic, sometimes disastrous, and sometimes unnerving sequence of events which we now refer to as the Second World War. However, in the American cultural psyche, music played an extremely pivotal role in not only the liberation of the world from tyranny, but also freeing each and every individual from individual solipsism as the world battled all around them. The music that was nascent during the Second World War period was the critical escapism of the mind and the spirit that provided refreshment to wearied allies fighting a global war from which there was no visible end.  To this author, a late Baby Boomer, the music of Duke Ellington, Glen Miller, Artie Shaw, Count Basie and similar swing and big band groups is a colorful example of the innovative and creative spirit that musically helped forge the Allied forces to victory in 1945. When listening to the volumes of this 4 CD musical collection, the energy and vitality of a humming American Industrial War machine can be felt in songs like, Little Brown Jug & Sentimental Journey just to name a few. Ken Burns in selectively choosing cross examples of musical pieces from all aspects of American life in the 1940’s has provided excellent symphonic support to all of the historical details and experiences that are wrapped into the documentary series, The War.

It is impossible not to feel the ebb and flow of American emotions and sentiments through this period’s lively and upbeat music. After all, America was at war and music provided the stimulation and impetus that drove Allied soldiers onto foreign shores, pushed Rosie to work long hours in the naval assembly yards and helped Johnny from Nebraska endure the trans-oceanic voyages that would bring him to some theater of international war and end his adolescence.

The soundtrack that accompanies The War is a vital testimony to the spirit of innovation and the discipline of human perseverance that untimely provided Allied victory over Japan and Germany. When one listens to the music that went to war with these relentless and untiring Americans, it is very easy to recognize through music and deeds that they were truly America’s Greatest Generation!

You can get your own copy of this fine soundtrack from Sony.

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