Break the News to Mother
DESCRIPTION: "While shot and shell were screaming Across the battlefield, The boys in blue were fighting, Their noble flag to shield." The flag falls. A boy volunteers and rescues the flag; he dies asking that someone "break the news to mother"
AUTHOR: Charles K. Harris
EARLIEST DATE: 1897 (sheet music)
KEYWORDS: army battle war dying mother youth
FOUND IN: Canada(Newf) US(MW)
REFERENCES (4 citations):
Greenleaf/Mansfield 179, "While the Boys in Blue Were Fighting" (2 texts)
Stout 91, pp. 113-116, "Break the News to Mother" (3 texts plus a fragment)
Neely, pp. 212-213, "Break the News to Mother" (1 text)
Spaeth-ReadWeep, pp. 175-176, "Break the News to Mother" (1 text, 1 tune).
cf. "The Brave Fireman (Break the News to Mother Gently)" (tune, theme)
NOTES: Charles K Harris wrote "The Brave Fireman" in 1891. He rewrote it as "Break the News to Mother" in 1897.
Brett Page in "Writing for Vaudeville" quotes Harris: "When Gillette's war plays, 'Held by the Enemy' and 'Secret Service' caught the national eye, I caught the national ear with 'Just Break the News to Mother.'"
Realist playwright Gillette's "Held by the Enemy" was a hit in 1886; "Secret Service" opened in New York October 5, 1896 and ran for a year. Both are set in the Civil War.
Harris wrote "Just Break the News to Mother" in 1897 and it became a big hit the following year with the outbreak of the Spanish-American War.
It became a hit again in 1917 when the World War I field uniform was no longer blue; in fact, blue uniforms were being phased out by 1898.
Harris's text can be found on the Mudcat Cafe site - BS
Last updated in version 3.2
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