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"When We Wind Up the Watch on the Rhine"
by Peerless Quartette


Sheet music courtesy of Clarence Johnson

"When We Wind up the Watch on the Rhine" seems to be most clearly intended to allay public concern. Playing on "Die Wacht Am Rhein," the German national air, the singer says "When we wind up the watch on the Rhine," an intentionally bravado understatement of the gravity of the task, "When the war is done /And the victory is won / I'll go back to the girl that I call mine." The lyric never allows the doubt of "if" the war is won to creep into the statement and the end is the return to a happy reunion where "Wedding bells will be ringing / 'Home Sweet Home' we'll be singing / When we wind up the watch on the Rhine." Furthermore, the lyric nods to the earlier lyric which avers that Uncle Sam is "ready to fight for a cause that is right" when the singer declares that "right must prevail." That earlier lyric, from "Keep Your Eye On Uncle Sammy," was an anti-war statement indicating that the "right" fight had not been found, yet. Now, the American entry into the Great War was the "right" that "must prevail." Americans were inundated by this kind of subtle affirmation and reconciliation to encourage their belief and acquiescence in a cause that, only months before, had been borderline anathema.

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