Noel Coward: London Pride (1941)

 |   |  1 min read

Noel Coward: London Pride (1941)

A glance at the year puts this classic Noel Coward song into the context of its era. It was the height of the Second World War and London was being battered by the Blitz.

Coward was real Londoner who, when playing truant from school, would roam the streets and watch the trains at Clapham Junction and Victoria Station.

It's no coincidence then at he was at Paddington Station when the idea of London Pride came to him as he observed hardy locals stepping around the destruction and going about their daily lives, despite it all.

"In 1941, the real sharp lights of London shone through the blackout with a steady brilliance that I shall never forget," he said later.

At the same time he wrote Could You Please Oblige Us With A Bren Gun? but it is London Pride which is the more enduring.

He admitted he took the tune from an old street song of London flower sellers. He said it was Won't You Buy My Sweet Blooming Lavender? but others have said it sounds similar to Who'll Buy My Violets?

There is also, ironically, a similarity to Deutschland Uber Alles.

It is a romantic song in many ways, but also taps into the resilience of Londoners and, as Paul Du Noyer notes in his excellent book In The City; A Celebration of London Music, "[it] begins amid the 'coster barrows' and expands into a meditation on the city's collective memory, preserved by tradition, imprinted in the very streets".

And it also -- in its final verse -- refers directly to the Blitz and how the city's resolve just toughens with each assault. 

For other one-off songs with a bit of history or an interesting back-story see From the Vaults.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   From the Vaults articles index

The Hombres: Let It Out (Let It All Hang Out) (1967)

The Hombres: Let It Out (Let It All Hang Out) (1967)

The great thing about disposable pop is that the minute it gets stuck to the bottom of your shoe you just can't shake it. Like this from the one-hit-wonders the Hombres out of Memphis whose... > Read more

Perry Como: (Get Your Kicks on) Route 66 (1959)

Perry Como: (Get Your Kicks on) Route 66 (1959)

In the hands of Chuck Berry and the Rolling Stones, Route 66 became a classic rock song -- but its history goes further back and the song has been rendered in the styles of earlier eras. And later... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Azymuth: Pure, The Best of Far Out Years 1995-2006 (Far Out/Southbound)

Azymuth: Pure, The Best of Far Out Years 1995-2006 (Far Out/Southbound)

The Brazilian trio at the core of Azymuth have been together since Adam was a young man: they started playing together in the 60s, named themselves Azymuth in the early 70s, and are still going... > Read more

Darren Watson: Too Many Millionaires (Beluga)

Darren Watson: Too Many Millionaires (Beluga)

Although most people might not know it, the tenacity of Darren Watson (and animator Jeremy Jones) created a landmark ruling in this country pertaining to freedom of speech and the right to express... > Read more