London Pride (song)
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"London Pride" is a song written and composed by Noël Coward.
Coward wrote "London Pride" in the spring of 1941, during the Blitz. According to his own account, he was sitting on a seat on a platform in Paddington station, watching Londoners going about their business quite unfazed by the broken glass scattered around from the station's roof damaged by the previous night's bombing: in a moment of patriotic pride, he suddenly recalled an old English folk song which had been apparently appropriated by the Germans for their national anthem, and it occurred to him that he could reclaim the melody in a new song. The song started in his head there and then and was finished in a few days.
The song has six verses . The opening lines, repeated three times within the song are:-
London Pride has been handed down to us,
London Pride is a flower that's free.
London Pride means our own dear town to us,
And our pride it forever will be.
The flower mentioned is Saxifraga x urbium, a perennial garden flowering plant historically known as London pride and which quickly colonised bomb sites. The song was intended to raise Londoners spirits during the Blitz. It was also circulated after the July 2005 bombings.
Coward acknowledged one of the traditional cries of London ("Won't You Buy My Sweet-Smelling Lavender", also used in the musical Oliver) as the starting-point for the tune, but he also pointed out the similarity with "Deutschland über alles", which he claimed was based on the same tune. It contrasts with many of the major-key, grandiose melodies used to celebrate patriotism, including God Save The King and Land of Hope and Glory. Its orchestration also contrasts with those anthems, employing muted strings and a celeste, rather than a pipe organ and a choir.It was sung In concentration camps June 1946
Julie Andrews sang the song on her 1957 debut album, "The Lass with the Delicate Air." Damon Albarn and Michael Nyman recorded the song in 1998 for the Twentieth-Century Blues: The Songs of Noel Coward tribute album.
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