‘We’ll Meet Again’: A Song’s Revival in the Midst of the COVID-19 Pandemic

A World War II era song has taken on a new meaning during our current period of crisis.

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Jiada Valenza

Streamed over 15 million times on Spotify alone, Vera Lynn’s song speaks to an international audience during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 1939, Vera Lynn first sang the lyrics to a timeless and generation-defining tune. At the time of its release, the British singer’s song spoke to the troubles of a world at war and encouraged both troops and civilians to keep hope. Over 80 years later, the song has seen a revival in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, reminding us that “We’ll Meet Again.”

Lynn’s song has quickly become attached to the global crisis, beginning with a re-release of the song by Lynn on her 103rd birthday on March 20th, 2020. Featuring lyrics such as “tell them it won’t be long” and “but I know we’ll meet again some sunny day,” it is easy to see why the song resonates with listeners in quarantine. Less than a week later, Bud Light aired a commercial showing empty sports stadiums with the Johnny Cash rendition playing in the background. The most striking use of the song thus far, however, occurred during one of the most tuned-into events in BritainQueen Elizabeth’s address to the nation. 

The Queen’s April 5th, 2o2o speech was the fifth time in history Queen Elizabeth gave an address to the nation, emphasizing the importance of the event. Before 24 million viewers in Britain alone, Queen Elizabeth concluded her address on coronavirus with the reassurance that “we will be with our friends again, we will be with our families again, we will meet again.” 

Sonia Kalam ’21 found the speech to be inspiring, explaining that “Queen Elizabeth has made millions of people calm down in this international panic, and she did it so comfortingly.” Following the Queen’s speech, Lynn’s 81-year-old song rose to number one on iTunes, where it remained through mid-April 2020.

The words “We’ll Meet Again” resonate with a large audience due to the globally shared experience of quarantine. “Everyone right now is feeling the same way, where we are confined and isolated in our houses with no one but our families to talk to,” said Kalam, who enjoys being with family, but wishes to see her friends again as well. Lynn’s words have become commonplace among many in conversations with those that we cannot see in-person. “During this pandemic, most of my messages to my friends have always ended with ‘We will see each other soon,’” Kalam said. 

This is not the first time that Vera Lynn’s song has met such great acclaim. Since its 1939 release, “We’ll Meet Again” has been covered by the likes of Frank Sinatra and Johnny Cash, used in the final scene of the classic 1964 film, Dr. Strangelove, and appeared in an episode of the Netflix hit series, Stranger Things, in 2019. Despite these various adaptations of the song, the message behind Lynn’s words has remained consistent, reminding worlds at oddsboth fictional and realthat there is light at the end of the tunnel. Kalam, who was not surprised by the power of Vera Lynn’s song, remarked, “Music has always connected people, and right now, everyone is in need of bonding.”

The revival of Lynn’s song highlights silver linings in a time of great uncertainty. There is beauty in seeing Lynn, who was known as the “Forces’ Sweetheart” in 1940s Britain, continue to be an inspiring figure at the age of 103. A new generation has begun to acknowledge and celebrate Lynn’s work, as seen in the hundreds of new covers of the song on YouTube within just two weeks of the Queen’s address.

“We need to work together to put an end to the coronavirus outbreak. It’s our fight. People should stay at home and limit contact with others, and this song displays our rainbow at the end of the rainstorm,” Kalam said. Despite the strange new circumstances that the world has been experiencing, Lynn’s song is a strong reminder to stay in quarantine for the sake of the day that we meet again. It is important to remember that even while social distancing, we remain connected through the changes that we have faced together.

“We need to work together to put an end to the coronavirus outbreak. It’s our fight. People should stay at home and limit contact with others, and this song displays our rainbow at the end of the rainstorm,” said Sonia Kalam ’21.

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