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They Didn't Believe Me - just an old song

Updated on September 10, 2014
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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

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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.

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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...

Source

Recommended

How to Write Your Own Life Story: The Classic Guide for the Nonprofessional Writer
How to Write Your Own Life Story: The Classic Guide for the Nonprofessional Writer

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.

 

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    • BritFlorida profile image
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      Jackie Jackson 3 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @ecogranny: Thank you so much.

    • BritFlorida profile image
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      Jackie Jackson 3 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @gottaloveit2: It means so much to me these days.

    • ecogranny profile image

      Kathryn Grace 3 years ago from San Francisco

      My grandfather served in the first world war, and he didn't talk about it much, except with his oldest son, who served in the second world war and was never shy about talking about that. But my uncle's stories of the second great war are hilarious, and yes, he wrote a book about it--unpublished, but fascinating. I know he saw some things, but what he chose to share were his amazing escapades and his ability to find hootch almost anywhere. I can't help wondering if that adapted song didn't have to do with the stories he told with such relish.Thank you for sharing a bit of your family history here. You did it with elan and, I am sure, touched every heart lucky enough to find this page.

    • gottaloveit2 profile image

      gottaloveit2 3 years ago

      What a beautiful tribute. I've never heard of the song but sure like it.

    • BritFlorida profile image
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      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @Namsak: That's a lovely message - thank you.

    • BritFlorida profile image
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      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @mel-kav: Thank you so much.

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      Namsak 4 years ago

      I didn't recognise the title of the song but as soon as I heard it memories came flooding back. This was one of my parents' favourite songs and I remember them dancing to it one Hogmanay party many years ago. Thanks for the memory.

    • mel-kav profile image

      mel-kav 4 years ago

      Beautiful and heart-felt lens. Love it!

    • BritFlorida profile image
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      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @Ben Reed: Thank you so much- this is a very personal and important lens to me.

    • Ben Reed profile image

      Ben Reed 4 years ago from Redcar

      Wonderful, just wonderful.

    • BritFlorida profile image
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      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @SBPI Inc: What a lovely comment. Thank you.

    • John Dyhouse profile image

      John Dyhouse 4 years ago from UK

      One of my favourite songs ever. I love the old classics. A great article and such a great story

    • SBPI Inc profile image

      SBPI Inc 4 years ago

      Beautiful lens and dedication.Unconditional LoveJonathan

    • BritFlorida profile image
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      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @John Dyhouse: Thank you so much and I'm so glad that you like the song. I think the Sinatra version is really fabulous.

    • BritFlorida profile image
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      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @flycatcherrr: Mums do that, don't they? Don't miss the song and the other video too.

    • flycatcherrr profile image

      flycatcherrr 4 years ago

      I'll have to come back later to listen to the song... got all misty just reading your story.

    • BritFlorida profile image
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      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @darkflowers: Thank you so much. It was actually quite an emotional moment when I thought 'my mum won a purple star'. It's hers, not mine. I think she'd like that.

    • BritFlorida profile image
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      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @nightbear lm: Thank you - in a strange way, that's good to know. I appreciate the way you've distinguished 'like' and 'love' -that's important too.

    • BritFlorida profile image
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      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @FrancesWrites: Thank you FrancesWrites. I thought too that it could be a self-indulgent thing to do but now I think differently. We can control how we are remembered and that can be so important.

    • darkflowers profile image

      Anja Toetenel 4 years ago from The Hague, the Netherlands

      Your story touched my heart, Britt, thank you for sharing and congratulations with your well deserved purple star!

    • nightbear lm profile image

      nightbear lm 4 years ago

      I understand your feelings there were so many things I can't remember too and I know I was a rotten daughter on several levels. I know my mom loved me, I am hopeful she liked me too despite our lives together. Very touching warm lens. But your sadness is shared by many daughters I am sure.

    • FrancesWrites profile image

      FrancesWrites 4 years ago

      I agree, there are so many things I would like to know now about my parents early lives, and their parents but the chance to ask is long gone. Writing an autobiography, while it seems a foolish or self-absorbed activity, really could give your children a sense of history and legacy.

    • BritFlorida profile image
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      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @DANCING COWGIRL: I'm so glad that you enjoyed it.

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 4 years ago from Colorado

      This is such a poignant feature. I can very much relate to what you have shared here so openly, honestly, and powerfully. Yes, I do have those regrets, and I do feel like a failure as a daughter. It says a lot about your mother that that was her favorite song. Oh to have someone sing a song like that about any of us. Wouldn't that be something to treasure? I'm so glad you chose to share these memories and feelings. They deserve to be heard.

    • DANCING COWGIRL profile image

      Dancing Cowgirl Design 4 years ago from Texas

      Such a beautiful story.

    • BritFlorida profile image
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      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @Diana Wenzel: Thank you so much.We were talking about it earlier and Andy suggested that maybe my dad used to sing it to my mum when they were courting. (That was a real tissue moment). Until I wrote this, and received so many lovely comments - some by email - I thought I was a failure as a daughter too but the comments have helped me see otherwise. So I hope that this helps you and shows that you shouldn't feel a failure. It seems that we all do, or did. But then I think about being a mother myself and it puts it into perspective. Why did I never do that before, I wonder?

    • BritFlorida profile image
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      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @Nancy Hardin: Thank you very much nancycarol. I guess when we are young, we think our parents will be around for ever. The Christmas before mum died, when she was still hale and hearty, she's just been presented with her first great granddaughter.When we were on the plane back to the States, Andy realized that we didn't get a photograph of the four generations together.'Never mind' I said 'we'll get one next Christmas'. It never occurred to me that it wouldn't happen.

    • Nancy Hardin profile image

      Nancy Carol Brown Hardin 4 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      Dear lady, we all forget things about our parents, especially as we ourselves grow older. I treasure the few things I do remember and the few items I have of my Mom and Dad. And I can certainly understand your emotions upon hearing this song and you've expressed them in such a touching story. My regret about my parents is that I didn't ask them more questions about their early life, because now I will never know many things I could have. I'm sure I'm not alone in that regret. Thank you for sharing a moving tribute to your mother.

    • BritFlorida profile image
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      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @Margaret Schindel: What lovely comments, thank you. The community here is so helpful. How lovely that you have tapes of your mum. I had a few of my dad - he decided to dictate a couple of chapters of his book due to arthritis in his fingers. Because he's a tight-fisted Yorkshireman he insisted I send them back after I'd transcribed them so that he could use them again :)I could hardly tell him the real reason I wanted to keep them.

    • Margaret Schindel profile image

      Margaret Schindel 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Oh, Jackie, what an incredible tribute to your beloved mum! It brought tears to my eyes thinking about the loss of my own beloved mother (and father). It's wonderful that your dad wrote his memoirs by hand. What a labor of love that must have been! I'm very grateful that I persuaded my mom to record some audio cassette tapes of some of her memories and stories when she was in her 50s. I tried to get her to record a few more during the last year of her life but she found it too taxing, so those tapes are really precious to me as I'm sure your dad's memoirs are to you. Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful tribute!

    • BritFlorida profile image
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      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @Lady Lorelei: Thank you so much.I think that it's comforting for us all to know that other people have the same emotions - your comments certainly helped me to realize. Until I heard that song the other day,I didn't know just how much music and emotions were linked.

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 4 years ago from Canada

      What a very honest and emotional portrayal of a personal look at your mom, as well as, all mother and daughter relationships. There are indeed songs that stop my heart when I hear them. They are like memory food and they bring back a rush of memories from the past when they play.

    • BritFlorida profile image
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      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @Susan Zutautas: Thank you so much Susan. I very much appreciate your (and everyone's) comments.I am feeling 'healed'.

    • BritFlorida profile image
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      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @Pat Goltz: I hope I did. I flew from America to England just in time to visit her in hospital and she died a few hours later. The family think that she was waiting to see me. I hope that's true.

    • BritFlorida profile image
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      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @sybil watson: Oh, what a lovely thought, thank you. I used a lot of tissues writing it and the comments are bringing out more but now it's in a good way. Thank you so much.

    • BritFlorida profile image
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      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @Ruthi: Thank you so much for your lovely message. Now I've written this, I'll always think about my mum as the young woman in the photographs and not as an old lady. Somehow that's important to me. When I edited my dad's book I discovered that because I'd been working with photographs of him as a young man, that's how I thought of him. Now, it's the same with my mum. That's good.

    • Susan Zutautas profile image

      Susan Zutautas 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      What a beautiful tribute to your mom. Whenever I hear "Somewhere Over the Rainbow", it brings me to tears. Like Pat say you have nothing to feel guilty about at all.

    • Pat Goltz profile image

      Pat Goltz 4 years ago

      Don't feel guilty for not remembering her favorite song, please! This is such a touching lens. You remember your mother with love, and I am sure you showed her love when she was alive, and that's what matters.

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      sybil watson 4 years ago

      Other daughters do feel the same way you do - I know I was very self-absorbed as a teenager and then my mom died of cancer and I felt she'd never know that I turned into a kind human being. Instead of feeling bad about it, think of it as a gift, like a treasure in a memory box that you'd forgotten. I'm sure moms know what's truly in their daughter's hearts, I know I do with my teenage daughter.

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      Ruthi 4 years ago

      You definitely should have included a box of tissues with this tribute to your mom. Just lovely! Yes, we should all write down who we are and make sure to pass it along to the next generation of loved ones. Like you, I treasure the tidbits of memories of my mom. I smile, I laugh, and yes, I cry. Thanks for sharing your mother with us.

    • BritFlorida profile image
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      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @opatoday: Oh Scott, what a lovely message. I truly don't know what to say. Thank you so much.

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      opatoday 4 years ago

      My heart is crying, Who knew your soul better than your dear mother, you have nothing to feel guilty aboutBecause Jackie you are truly one of the great ones, I'm still thinking how I can possibly repay you for saving my entire Business. Know this, your mother knows who you have become and smiles with pride and love for you. I count it a privlidge to know you.and call you friend.Thank You :)Scott

    • BritFlorida profile image
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      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @lesliesinclair: Sadly,I am not a spiritual person but I do hope that now, somehow, my mum knows how much I loved her and always will.

    • BritFlorida profile image
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      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @Kim Milai: Oh what a lovely story. Cry if you want to - I think its OK.

    • BritFlorida profile image
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      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @jimporsche86: Thank you so much, Jim. Your comments mean a lot.

    • Kim Milai profile image

      Kim Milai 4 years ago

      I am so touched by your story. And beautifully written too. My husband used Debussy's Reverie for a video montage of my daughter when she was a baby. Now she's learning it on the piano and it takes everything in me not to cry when she plays it. Your mothers song filled a deep deep part of you. I love your article.

    • BritFlorida profile image
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      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @lesliesinclair: Thank you so much,Papier. I truly appreciate your comment.

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      jimporsche86 4 years ago

      This is a very moving story and very personal. Both of my parents are still here although my dad is not in good health. I think we take it for granted that we can remember all the memories but we can't. Writing it down somehow is a great thing to do. Thank you for sharing.

    • lesliesinclair profile image

      lesliesinclair 4 years ago

      What a rich story, triggered by memory of a song and its meaning to your mom. I think you've told it brilliantly. I agree with your point about feeling some guilt about the type of daughter I was, and I'm sure it's also not the only feeling you have about your relationship with your mom because of the tender way you write about it. Thanks

    • BritFlorida profile image
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      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @anonymous: I imagine the title resonates with a lot of people but I understand what you're saying. I just hope that this lovely music doesn't get lost in the mists of time - even I'd forgotten it, to my shame. I think part of my reason for writing it was so that my memory doesn't let me down again.Plus, it's a tribute too,to my mum and almost coincidentally to the soldiers who died in the First World War.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Very moving story. 'They didn't believe me' are words that hit close to home. I never knew the song. Do now.