Gramophones At The Front [Twenty Minutes]



How soldiers kept sane during World War I listening to gramophone recordings from home.

The manufacturers of gramophone records and players thought war would be a disaster for business. But by 1916 sales had doubled with the largest captive market in the world. Patriotic songs quickly gave way by 1915 to sentimental tunes about girlfriends and home. How did soldiers in the alienated landscape of the trenches maintain an emotional connection to happier times and places? ('If you were the only girl in the world' was the biggest selling tune of the war.) Soldiers loved to subvert songs with their own robust words and themes. As for recordings being made on the front, only one exists and is almost certainly a fake.