The British War Song: Pack Up Your Troubles

--Informant Info--
Nationality: British European
Age: 79
Occupation: Retired
Residence: Sherman Oaks, California
Date of Performance/Collection: March 20, 2020
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

Song Piece:

Pack up your troubles in your old kit bag
And smile, smile, smile
As long as you have Lucifer to light your bag
Smile boys that’s the style
What’s the use in worrying
It never was worth while, So!
Pack up your troubles in your old kit bag
And smile, smile, smile

Background: My informant learned this song from her husband who was in the British Navy. Typically this song was sung by sailors on the ship as a way of bonding. Later my informant recounted that her husband would sing it to their children while they were brushing their teeth to make sure that they spent long enough on the activity.

Context: My informant and I were discussing childhood experiences and she remembered when she had children she used to sing them songs along with her husband. She then sang those same songs to her grandchildren.

Thoughts: To my informant, this song appears to be very similar to ‘It’s a Long Way to Tipperary’ in that it carries similar memories. Some research has found that the husband changed some of the lyrics so they were more kid-friendly. ‘As long as you have Lucifer to light your bag’ originally read as ‘As long as you have Lucifer to light your fag’, the British term for a cigarette.