Before there was the Swinging Sixties, there was the Blitz. And before there was the Beatles, there was Vera Lynn. While the Fab Four’s oeuvre from 1962 to 1970 is still hugely popular and is making yet another decade-defying comeback, thanks to the release of digitally remastered CDs of all their albums last week, it is the 92-year-old Lynn who has stopped the Liverpudlians who the world has claimed as their own in their tracks.
On Monday, Lynn made her comeback by reaching No. 1 on the British charts with her collection, We’ll Meet Again: The Very Best of Vera Lynn, blocking the punter’s favourite, The Beatles. The year Paul McCartney was born and when John Lennon was two years old, the 25-year-old Lynn recorded her most famous song, a rendition of the 1939 Ross Parker-Hughie Charles number, ‘We’ll meet again’.
Lynn got her nickname ‘The Force’s Sweetheart’ by broadcasting her uplifting songs to Allied troops on her own radio programme, ‘Sincerely yours’ during World War II. During the war years, she also toured to perform before troops all across the world including in India. But it would seem that a British national icon like Lynn can evoke a strong enough mixture of nostalgia and curiosity as, say, another ‘forgotten’ British hero Winston Churchill among the Brits. Between the homage paid to her by Pink Floyd in their 1979 number ‘Vera’ and listeners meeting her again this week, the British mainland was never attacked in a war. Can that explain why the Beatles ‘lost out’?