Homecoming

gonna love him5

Perhaps the most memorable film about the aftermath of World War Two was The Best Years of Our Lives. The ironic title refers to the troubling fact that many servicemen had “the best years of their lives” in wartime, not in their experiences afterwards in peacetime America when they were forced to adapt to the much-changed demands and became the victims of dislocating forces. However, it could be argued that the servicemen also gave up and sacrificed “the best years of their lives” – their youthful innocence and their health – by serving in the military and becoming disjointed from normal civilian life.

The story depicts the lives of three enlisted men who face an uncertain future at the end of World War Two. Army Sergeant Al Stephenson (Fredric March) comes home to a family that has grown up while he was away at war and a banking job where his bosses have little interest in supporting the men who risked their lives in the name of freedom. Handsome decorated Army Air Force captain and bombardier, Fred Derry (Dana Andrews) faces a dead end job and a war bride he barely knows. After losing his hands in battle, sailor Homer Parrish (Harold Russell), the hometown’s former football hero, has a harder time adjusting to others’ attitudes and his own fear of pity than any physical challenges. The challenges of each of these three homecoming veterans capture the spirit of a country recovering from a war that affected the lives of every American. The movie never glosses over the reality of altered lives and the inability to communicate the experience of war on the front lines or the home front. The Best Years of Our Lives was the first major Hollywood production to deal with the problems faced by veterans returning from World War Two. At the time, most producers thought the war-weary public was more interested in escapist entertainment, but producer Samuel Goldwyn proved them wrong by turning this into the top-grossing film of the decade.

Dana Andrews and Virginia Mayo in a scene from The Best Years of Our Lives

Dana Andrews and Virginia Mayo in a scene from The Best Years of Our Lives


Approaching the subject of coming home after World War Two from a different perspective was a song by Frances Ash entitled, I’m Gonna Love that Girl (Guy) Like She’s (He’s) Never Been Loved Before. As can be seen from the way I have written the title, the song can be sung by either a female or male singer. The song speaks of the years of separation and waiting, of the feelings of missing and kissing, and of the hopes of never parting again and of being together forever. In its own way, I find the song every bit as poignant as the film The Best Years of Our Lives. Read the words in the context of the aftermath of a devastating and dislocating war and you will see what I mean. I have used here the words as if sung by a returning serviceman.
I’m gonna love that gal
Like she’s never been loved before
I’m gonna show that gal
She’s the baby that I adore

When she’s in my arms again
Our dreams will all come true
Then the years between might never have been
We’ll start our lives anew

I’m gonna kiss that gal
Like she’s never been kissed before
And though I miss that gal
She’s the baby I’m waitin’ for

We’ll never part again
She’ll hold my heart again
Forever and ever more
I’m gonna love that gal
Like she’s never been loved before

At the time of its first popularity in 1945, this song charted on the Billboard charts with recordings by two artists – Perry Como and Benny Goodman. Other non-charted versions were made by Dinah Shore, Randy Brooks, Betty Grable, and Paula Green. To listen to a version of the song, click on the song title. To download a song, right click on the song title, then right click on Save target as.
Charted versions

Perry Como, Russ Case and his Orchestra I’m Gonna Love That Gal
Benny Goodman and his Orchestra, vocals by Dottie Reid I’m Gonna Love That Guy

Non-charted versions

Dinah Shore (from the 25 October 1945 radio show, Bird’s Eye Open House with Dinah Shore) I’m Gonna Love That Guy
Randy Brooks and his Orchestra, vocals by Marion Hutton I’m Gonna Love That Guy
Betty Grable (from the 1951 film Call Me Mister) I’m Gonna Love That Guy
Paula Green and her Orchestra, vocals by Paula Green I’m Gonna Love That Guy (Like He’s Never Been Loved Before)

1 Comment

Filed under Pop Music

One response to “Homecoming

  1. I’ve got an Adelaide Hall version from 1945, but not 4 of the above.

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