Elton John, Laura Mvula, Bee Gees, R.E.M., Gilbert & George and Dame Vera Lynn
BBC Radio 2

Hello from Stuart


Firstly, Happy New Year. I'm in the wilds of the Northern Lake district, but wherever you are in Britain or indeed the world, I hope you can be near a radio or a computer tonight at 10pm (Wednesday 2 January) for the first of a series that has been occupying mine and several other minds for many months now, our epic series The Peoples Songs.

I wanted to make a series that would be different from every other pop history, however admirable, by concentrating on how music feeds into our lives and our culture, our jobs and our homes and our schools and our streets, rather than dissect it under the microscope of critical opinion.

We'll Meet Again by Dame Vera Lynn - the focus of tonight's inaugural episode - is never going to top an NME poll of the best singles ever. But during the dark days of the Second World War it did more in the fight against fascism than Woody Guthrie or The Clash could have ever dreamed. Pop music – silly, sentimental, saccharine, but stirring – was as crucial a part of our armoury as Spitfires and Tommy Guns.

June recalls a wartime request show. Joan & Frank talk about women working for the troops.

Hearing the voices of the people who were there when Vera Lynn first sang of "meeting again some sunny day" was moving and fascinating. I hope you agree.



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