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cover to sheet music

George M. Cohan’s patriotic song “Over There,” written in 1917, was quickly published and was recorded several times during the war.

George M. Cohan claimed throughout his life to have been born on the Fourth of July, though his birth certificate said July 3, 1878. As a child, he starred with his family in vaudeville theater productions, and he grew up to write, direct, and star in musical theater productions. Shortly after the United States entered World war I, Cohan wrote the words and music to “Over There,” which quickly became the anthem of American soldiers. The song did so much to boost morale that years later, in 1940, Cohan would be given the Congressional Medal of Honor for his patriotic music.

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Billy Murray recorded this version of “Over There” in 1917. About the recording
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Johnnie, get your gun,
Get your gun, get your gun,
Take it on the run,
On the run, on the run.
Hear them calling, you and me,
Every son of liberty.
Hurry right away,
No delay, go today,
Make your daddy glad
To have had such a lad.
Tell your sweetheart not to pine,
To be proud her boy’s in line.


Over there, over there,
Send the word, send the word over there -
That the Yanks are coming,
The Yanks are coming,
The drums rum-tumming
So prepare, say a pray’r,
Send the word, send the word to beware.
We’ll be over, we’re coming over,
And we won’t come back till it’s over
Over there.

(Chorus repeats)

Johnnie, get your gun,
Get your gun, get your gun,
Johnnie show the Hun
Who’s a son of a gun.
Hoist the flag and let her fly,
Yankee Doodle do or die.
Pack your little kit,
Show your grit, do your bit.
Yankee to the ranks,
From the towns and the tanks.
Make your mother proud of you,
And the old Red, White and Blue.

(Chorus repeats twice)