By Gabrielle Lamontagne
Who doesn’t like to party? No one I know. Of course, everyone’s definition of a party is different, but the concept is the same: upbeat music, good friends, laughter and fun. The song “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” by the Andrew Sisters has a little bit of all these. This 1941 hit is a precursor to the Rhythm and Blues genre of music that is tucked somewhere between Jazz and Swing.
Lyrics for this song are enjoyable in a casual way, while also leaving a subtle message about how to live life. For instance, the man in this song enjoys his job so much that being unable to perform it depressed him, as described by the line, “It really brought him down because he couldn’t jam.”
Having a passion in life that you follow can be very important: it keeps you from becoming depressed or bored and may help you to avoid that dreaded midlife (or in our case, quarter life) crisis. The words and alliteration of “boogie woogie bugle boy” add a cutesy fifties feel to the tune. Being part of any group is supposed to give people a connected feeling, just like any party they throw and audience participation in concerts. To demonstrate this, the Andrews Sisters sang, “They clap their hands and stamp their feet/cause they know how it goes when someone gives him a beat.”
This lyric expresses the sense of comradery built in to the army camp situation, which can relate to most parties or on-campus activities in college. Don’t just watch complacently—join in on the action! There’s also a lot of military lingo in this historic melody. As an example, “reveille”, from the lyric “Now the company jumps when he plays reveille,” refers to the tune well known for being played through a horn or bugle loudly in an army camp to awaken soldiers extremely early in the morning (yes, I do consider 5 a.m. extremely early.) This word derives from the French verb “se réveiller” which means to wake up.
The same line also plays on the two ideas associated with “jump” – the one meaning to jump up out of bed/in surprise or alarm, while the other refers to jumping as related to dancing to music. Another pleasant message brought to you by this golden oldie is to make the most of a bad situation. You can’t control everything but don’t let it get you down – try to enjoy the little pleasures in life.
The sounds behind this lyrical jamboree with the old-fashioned, melodious tones of the Andrews Sisters, can lift up anyone’s spirits. The “jump blues” style of music really amps up the party mood of the song, especially made for dancing—of the upbeat, swing variety—not the slow kind. Jazzy instrumentals and scat improvisational-stylings prove that this can be considered an early version of rhythm and blues. These harmonies lend an upbeat and fun quality to the song’s story.
If you’re looking for some good time music with a feel good groove or a little inspiration, turn to this lovely old ditty. Dancing away the night or just working hard on that career-making project? Consider adding this sweet number to your playlist.
Gabrielle Lamontagne is a junior majoring in French and business administration.