In October, 1941, The Grand Ole Opry organized a “Camel Country” tour in a show of support for American servicemen, many of whom would be off to war two months later. Of course, in 1941, Country music was still number one. Such as “Worried Mind” – Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys.
Sunday, December 7, 1941, our American and Texas soldiers in Pearl Harbor and America were waking to some of the top Country Music songs of that year. What were those songs? Maybe one written by the great Johnny Bond called “Draftee Blues?” At 6:05 a.m. then at 7:51 a.m. those songs were silenced by the worst tragedy in U.S. history – the attack on Pearl Harbor.
On Sunday, December 7, 1941, aircraft and midget submarines of the Imperial Japanese Navy began an attack on the U.S. At 6:05 a.m. six Japanese carriers launched a first wave of 183 aircraft composed mainly of dive bombers, horizontal bombers and fighters. The Americans had, through earlier code breaking activity, determined that an attack was likely to occur.
A first wave of attacks by the Japanese occurred at 7:51 a.m. hitting American ships, military installations and airfields of Ford Island. A second wave at 8:30 a.m. attacked the fleet anchored in Pearl Harbor with of 170 Japanese aircraft – mostly torpedo bombers, The battleship Arizona was hit with an armor-piercing bomb which penetrated the forward ammunition compartment, blowing the ship apart and sinking it within seconds.
Overall, nine ships of the U.S. fleet were sunk and 21 ships were severely damaged. Three of the 21 would be irreparable. The overall death toll reached 2,403, including 68 civilians, and 1,178 injured. Of the military personnel lost at Pearl Harbor, 1,177 were from the Arizona. The U.S. military’s first shots fired were from the destroyer Ward on a midget submarine that surfaced outside of Pearl Harbor; Ward sank the midget sub at approximately 6:55 a.m., about an hour before the attack on Pearl Harbor. Japan would lose 29 out of the 350 aircraft they attacked with. Thus began World War II. Many Texans and Texas musicians rushed to join in the military after the attack on Pearl Harbor, such as Tommy Duncan, from Whitney, Texas, half of the co-creator, lyricist and vocalist with Bob Wills and the of The Texas Playboys , and Audi Murphy, from Kingston, Hunt County, Texas (became one the most famous soldiers of World War II and widely regarded as the most decorated American soldier of the war).
Top hits of the year 1941
“A Year Ago Tonight”-Gene Autry
“Alamo Rag” – Adolph Hofner
“Along the Santa Fe Trail” – Bing Crosby
“Be Honest With Me”- Roy Acuff
“Be Honest With Me” – Gene Autry
“Be Honest With Me”- Red Foley
“Be Honest With Me”- Jimmy Wakely
“Big Beaver”- Bob Wills
“Come Back Little Pal”- Roy Acuff
“Cool Water” – Sons of the Pioneers
“Draftee Blues”- Johnny Bond
“Gone and Left Me Blues”-Jimmy Wakely
“I Hung My Head and I Cried”- Jimmie Davis
“I’ll Never Let You Go Little Darling”- Gene Autry
“I’ll Never Let You Go Little Darling”- Jimmy Wakely
“In My Adobe Hacienda”- Louise Massey
“It Makes No Difference Now” – Gene Autry
“I Want to Be a Cowboy’s Sweetheart”- Patsy Montana
“I Wonder Why You Said Goodbye”- Ernest Tubb
“I Wonder Where You Are Tonight”- Jimmy Wakely
“Lil Liza Jane”-Bob Wills
“Live and Let Live” – Wiley Walker and Gene Sullivan
“Maiden’s Prayer”-Bob Wills
“My Mary”- Jimmie Davis
“Mean Mama Blues”- Ernest Tubb
“New San Antonio Rose” – Bing Crosby
“Old Shep”- Red Foley
“Please Remember Me”- Ernest Tubb
“The Precious Jewel”- Roy Acuff
“Sweethearts or Strangers”- Jimmie Davis
“Take Me Back To Tulsa” – Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys
“Tears on My Pillow”- Gene Autry
“Time Changes Everything”- Bob Wills
“Too Late”- Jimmie Davis
“Twin Guitar Special”- Bob Wills
“You Are My Sunshine”- Gene Autry
“Walking the Floor Over You” — Ernest Tubb
“When My Blue Moon Turns to Gold Again” – Wiley Walker and Gene Sullivan
“Won’t You Ride In My Little Red Wagon”- Hank Penny
“Worried Mind”- Roy Acuff
“Worried Mind”- Texas Jim Lewis
“Worried Mind”- Roy Rogers
We honor the life sacrifice of our military men and women who died at Pearl Harbor and families who lost sons and daughter during that fateful War. To the survivors, we give our undying gratitude to them as well. We can only hope Texas and American Country music gave them comfort before and after such tragedy. In life they listened to these songs. In remembrance of all who suffered there and survived WWII, we hope that music helped you heal in many ways. God bless you all. We salute you.
Continued in Part II – Honor and remembrance of Pearl Harbor with Texas and American Country music 1942 – Fightin’ mad!