Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Musical Statues No.2: FDR In Grosvenor Square

The NEW Daily Constitutional series in which we map our London memorials in music – songs and pieces inspired by or associated with the subjects of our many London statues. 

The series continues with… 

FDR and Happy Days Are Here Again

The statue of Franklin D. Roosevelt can be found in Grosvenor Square. This commemoration to the 32nd President of the United States, by William Reid Dick was unveiled in 1948.

FDR's campaign song in 1932 was Happy Days Are Here Again – a number that went on to be associated with FDR and with the Democratic party for years to come…

Such musical campaign choices are made after long deliberation these days, and often court controversy when the writer or performer takes issue with their song being associated with candidates that they do not necessarily back.

Back in 1932, it is said to have been a spontaneous decision to include Happy Days Are Here Again – written in 1929 by composer Milton Ager and lyricist Jack Yellen – at the Democratic convention. That FDR repealed prohibition not long after his election seems to have wedded the song to the President for all time.

In terms of popular song, Roosevelt is said to have had a fondness for the sentimental western song Home on The Range. His favourite hymn was Eternal Father Strong To Save, the hymn of both The Royal Navy and the U.S Navy…

… it is often known as simply The Navy Hymn, or by the final line of its first verse, For Those In Peril On The Sea.

When the President first met with Winston Churchill in secret in was aboard the MHS Prince of Wales in 1941 on the Atlantic Ocean to discuss the US's involvement in the fight against the Nazis. During discussions, a joint service was held with the President and the P.M and the men of both the Royal and U.S Navies in attendance.

Of the service, Churchill later wrote "It was a great hour to be alive". Of the four day-long meeting, FDR is said to have commented to an aide, "If nothing else had happened while we were there, that joint service would have cemented us."

Churchill chose the hymns from his favourites, including Onward Christian Soldiers and Oh God Our Help In Ages Past…

… written by Isaac Watts from Psalm 90 in 1719 to a melody by William Croft from 1708.

Find FDR's statue here…

A statue of both FDR and Churchill can be found in Bond Street. It is the work of Laurence Holofcener and was unveiled in 1995 and is called simply Allies

Find the statue here…

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