[Dixielandjazz] Charlie/propaganda swing

Don Ingle dingle at baldwin-net.com
Sun Jun 1 11:15:09 PDT 2003

I have a copy of "Your a Sap, Mr. Jap" by Spike Jones -- From a
transcription, put out on a Harlequin (English) CD.
Don Ingle

----- Original Message -----
From: "Anton Crouch" <a.crouch at unsw.edu.au>
To: "DJML" <dixielandjazz at ml.islandnet.com>; "SLGTJB" <SLGTJB at earthlink.net>
Sent: Sunday, June 01, 2003 9:42 AM
Subject: [Dixielandjazz] Charlie/propaganda swing

> Hello Cary
> Nobody seems to have replied on-list with details, so I'll give it a go.
> "Charlie" was Karl Schwedler, a singer who made approx 90 recordings in
> Berlin between March 1941 and February 1943. The "orchestra" of "Charlie
> and his orchestra" was that of Lutz Templin and included such well-known
> players as Kurt Abraham (reeds), Willy Berking (trombone) and Freddie
> Brocksieper (drums).
> Schwedler sang in English and the format of the performances was to take a
> popular British or American song and sing it in a "propaganda" version
> (often after singing it "straight"). The nature of the propaganda varied
> from drawing attention to Allied losses to offensive attacks on the allied
> leadership, mixed with the occasional dose of anti-semitism. The quality
> the big band swing was high, but I agree with Steve Barbone that the
> playing tended to be a bit stiff.
> An Englishman, Norman Baillie-Stewart, had some involvement in the
> undertaking and he wrote in his autobiography that the process was for the
> propaganda to be first written in German and then translated into English.
> Did the propaganda have any effect? I doubt it but I suspect that some of
> it was as amusing in the 1940s as it is now. For example:
> St Louis Blues becomes Blackout Blues and is sung by "a negro from the
> London docks" who hates to see the evening sun go down "cos the Germans,
> done bomb this town".
> Miss Annabelle Lee becomes Miss BBC.
> South of the Border features "a well known English capitalist" who wants
> move to the "western Atlantic, America way".
> Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen becomes an "Anthem of the international brotherhood
> of bolsheviks"
> The Man with the Big Cigar is Churchill, "friend of the USSR".
> Bye Bye Blackbird becomes Bye Bye Empire and has Churchill lamenting that
> all he'll have left is the London zoo.
> Pocketful of Dreams has Roosevelt declaring that "I've got a pocketful of
> schemes" and that he'll "save the world for Wall Street".
> There is the occasional serious song - for example "Thanks For the
> which includes such lines as "Thanks for the memory, that is in every
> German's mind, when you broke the ties that bind, and dictated a peace,
> called Treaty of Versailles - how rotten that was".
> The session of July 1942 is of some interest. Alongside Charlie's efforts
> are two sides by Lale Andersen and, yes, one is a version of Lili Marleen.
> This July 1942 version of Lili Marleen (not be confused with the "famous"
> version of August 1939) has the vocal in both German and English and may
> have been the stimulus for the Allied appropriation of the song. Does any
> listmate have any info on this?
> The Germans were, of course, not alone in using popular music for
> propaganda purposes. How could we forget Johnny Desmond singing "Long ago
> and far away" in German or the neo Dadaist (oops, sorry) efforts of Spike
> Jones.
> Finally a request. Who remembers a WW2 song called "You're a sap, Mister
> Jap (to mess with Uncle Sammy)"? I have the barest memory of it and have
> the feeling that it may have been sung by an Andrews Sisters type group.
> All the best
> Anton
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