Starting with a reveille (signal sounded with a bugle and/or drum) played by a bugle boy, “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy”, sang by the Andrews Sisters, is a swing and boogie woogie (jump blues) recording first introduced in 1941, right before World War II broke out. A bugle is a brass instrument, similar to a trumpet in appearance and sound. During World War II, many men were drafted into the United States armed forces to fight against the Axis nations (Germany, Italy, and Japan).
The lyrics of the song talk about a “famous trumpet man from out Chicago way”,whose “number came up and was gone with the draft”. Then the song goes on to describe how the bugle boy was “down because he couldn’t jam” and “the captain seemed to understand because the next day the cap’ went out and drafted a band”. So now “the company jumps when he plays reveille, he’s the boogie woogie bugle boy of company B”.
Given the situation in the United States during World War II, it is not surprising to hear of a man who started playing reveille for the rest of his crew to cheer himself up (if based on a true story). Even if it was not based on a true story, civilian life and military workforce were fused together with the help of propaganda from the United States government to motivate civilians to help the war cause.
This song will make you get up on your feet and want to clap your hands, tap your feet, and swing to the beat. At 1 minute and 41 seconds into the video, the vocal emphasis that Patricia Marie “Patty” puts into the lyrics is impressive. Not only is she singing at a fast pace, she also puts emotion into the lyrics.
Moreover, the equally tuned vocals of the Andrews Sisters really stands out when compared to singers of my generation, who often modify their voices using equipment in recording studios. In modifying their voices by changing let’s say the pitch of their voice, it takes away the soul put into the song and adds a robotic feel to the song. An example of this would be “Break Free”, sung by Ariana Grande. I think Ariana Grande has great vocals, but the addition of an echo each time she finishes a verse can be quite distracting, and the first time I heard the song, I did not understand what she was saying.
In contrast, the Andrews Sisters’ do not appear to have a change in their voices by the studio. This may be due to the simpler technology available back then.
In addition, downing their voices to almost whispering “he puts the boys to sleep with boogie every night, and wakes ‘em the same way in the early bright” invokes the mood of the action that the lyrics describe.
This song attracts others to it, even if it does not belong to their generation (myself included). It is my belief that others will not be able to be equal to the Andrews Sisters finely tuned vocals (e.g., Katy Perry, Keri Hilson, and Jennifer Nettles did their own version of “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” but did not manage to reach the high standards of the Andrews Sisters). There is nothing like the original!