They Didn't Believe Me - just an old song
Just an old love song 'They Didn't Believe Me'
This morning I was alone in the house. It was about 6.30 and I was drinking my first cup of tea.The radio was on in the background - very quietly. It was BBC Radio 4 and I've no idea what the programme was about but I heard singing. An old song.
Suddenly I was covered in goosebumps and could hardly move.
When I could, I went and turned up the volume and I could hear it properly. It was just a simple love song called They Didn't Believe Me, that's all. I was transfixed and was reduced to a blubbering wreck. Why?
Well actually, I'm still a a blubbering wreck thinking about it. You see, I'd forgotten that song and yet once I knew it so well. I grew up knowing it. If someone had asked me yesterday what my mum's favorite song was, I would have said The Folks Who Live on the Hill because we did live on a hill and Mum did like it.
I'd have no problem telling you her favorite hymn - Abide With Me - it was played at her funeral in 2006 and I can't listen to it now without a box of tissues. But hearing They Didn't Believe Me this morning made me realize something.It was my mum's all-time favorite song and I had completely forgotten.
The photographs are of my mum and from my own family collection .
Why everyone should write an autobiography
Here you see my mum and dad. If you're familiar with my other articles you'll know that my dad spent five years recently writing his life story (in longhand) and that we have recently published it. We often had daily phone calls and I have the book - and the other stories he told me - so I know a great deal about his life. But not about my mum's.
After all, until today I had even forgotten her favorite song.We should all write about our lives for future generations. It doesn't have to be a published book, it can just be hand-written, disorganized notes. But don't you want your family to know what you were really like?
This is gloomy, I know, but the last time I saw my mum she was an old lady in a hospital bed. She wouldn't want me to remember her like that. She'd want me to think about the lovely young woman who adored They Didn't Believe Me. A young woman with her life in front of her; attractive, vital and young.
They Didn't Believe Me
Although this first appeared in 1914, I rather think that the version she knew was this one by Frank Sinatra - her favorite singer. In my youth, the days of ACDC,Cream and Jimi Hendrix, Frank Sinatra was well off my radar. I love his music now.
Daughters feel guilty?
Many years ago in England, there was a television programme that interviewed prominent women about their mothers. A box of tissues was always available on the interviewee's side table.
What was interesting was that every woman, as far as I can recall, had feelings of guilt when they talked about their mothers.I sort of understand this. I think that a lot of us think that we were rotten daughters (I do).
After all, I'd even forgotten her favorite song.
What else have I forgotten?Part of my immobilization when hearing the song on the radio was guilt. How could I have forgotten? If I'd never heard it again, would I have remembered? Probably not. Do other daughters feel this way? Is it that we realize how much our mothers did for us and how little we did for them?
Oh What a Lovely War - We'll Never Tell Them
Of course, what I've written so far was just my personal feelings but here's something else I want to tell you.
Before I started writing this, I looked the history of the song. It originated in England in 1914, coinciding with the start of the First World War. Many of the popular songs at the time were adopted - and adapted - by soldiers in the trenches.
They Didn't Believe Me was one of them but the soldiers created their own lyrics and re-titled it to We'll Never Tell Them.Many years later, in 1969, it was used in the final sequence of the film Oh What a Lovely War. I've had a lump in my throat writing this but that's because of my mum - just a personal thing.
But I challenge you to watch the video below without getting a lump in your own throat.
We'll Never Tell Them
When the First World War soldiers adapted songs, they created their lyrics to reflect their circumstances. At one time during the war, they were accused of having an easy life in the trenches.
That seems hard for us to believe today - we've seen footage and we've read the statistics so we know the horrors they faced.The soldiers reacted by writing their own ironic lyrics, sung to the tune of They Didn't Believe Me. Read them and watch the Oh What a Lovely War clip again...
I'm saying this with feeling - PLEASE write about your life. It doesn't have to be professionally done and I can assure you that your children and grandchildren really won't care about your grammar and spelling.
But they WILL want to know about you and your life, I promise. Maybe not until they are older themselves but you have no idea how valuable your story will be to them.