Thursday 29th August 2019

·         Serving military, veterans and their families have named Brothers in Arms by Dire Straits as the song that best reminds them of military life  

·         Nearly half (48%) of serving military said that the most important thing about music was “keeping up morale and reminding me of home” when deployed 

Whether it’s the memory of a tour in Afghanistan, the first time they set foot in Gibraltar, or waving goodbye to a loved one, more than a quarter (28%) of the British military and their families say that music was more important to them during their time in the military than it is in civvy life, according to research released today to mark 75 years of BFBS, the Forces broadcaster and media organisation.  

Since its first radio broadcast in 1944 from Algiers, BFBS has raised the morale, well-being and welfare of our armed forces and their families worldwide – and has continued to serve the Forces during operations overseas, including in the Falklands, Balkans, Afghanistan and Iraq.  

To celebrate 75 years of entertaining, informing, connecting and championing the UK Armed Forces, BFBS asked its global British audience to nominate the songs that best ignite their military memories and the moving stories behind them. The list was then voted on by more than 1000 serving military, veterans and their families to create a Top 75. 

Taking the top spot was the Dire Straits number one hit, Brothers in Arms, written by lead singer Mark Knopfler during the Falklands War. When told of the band’s top spot in the BFBS 75 list, Mark said:

“Greetings to BFBS everywhere! I’d like to thank you all for voting Brothers in Arms the best song to ignite your own military memories whatever they may be. It means a great deal to me to have given something, however small, back to so many.”

This was followed closely by Meat Loaf, Bat out of Hell. Sailing by Rod Stewart came in at number three with one military wife remembering it as “the most played record in Pompey when the boys sailed off for the Falklands. The town seemed to change, families cheered – and their waiting game began.” American rock band the Eagles took the number four spot with Hotel California and The Moody Blues, Nights in White Satin made up the top five.

The top ten most emotive songs for the military:  

1 Brothers in Arms – Dire Straits
2 Bat out of hell – Meat Loaf
3 Sailing (1975) – Rod Stewart
4 Hotel California – Eagles
5 Nights In White Satin – The Moody Blues
6 Boys Are Back In Town – Thin Lizzy
7 Don’t Stop Me Now – Queen
8 = Come On Eileen – Dexys Midnight Runners
8 = Leaving on a Jet Plane – John Denver
9 Sailing – HMS Ark Royal

Other songs which feature in the list of 75 tracks include A Horse with No Name by America at number 12, nominated by one veteran who remembered it playing in Saudi when he pulled the radio stag ‘graveyard’ stint – he can “still smell the desert air when it comes on the radio”.

Kenny Rogers, The Gambler, came in at number 28 and reminded one RAF member of the time when he signed up in 1979, as it was playing in the Southampton recruitment office. Jethro Tull’s, Living in The Past (number 37), brought back memories of singing “pack up your troubles” in a Chinook helicopter, just before one regiment landed in the Falklands – bringing the song’s nominator to tears.  It still has the same effect years later.  

Although classic nostalgic tracks make up the majority of the list. There are also some songs from more recent years, reviving military memories for serving military and veterans, such as: Dry Your Eyes by The Streets (number 34), Where is the Love from the Black Eyed Peas (number 36) and Love Yourself by Justin Bieber at number 46.   

When asked what the most important things about music during their military life were, 36% of serving military and veterans stated that it cheered them up, and 47% of military families said that music helped them through difficult times.  

Pop proved to be the genre that most respondents associated with their time in the military (19%), closely followed by rock (17%) and then country (6%). When asked what emotions people associate with their time in the military the majority were positive, with pride (53%), belonging (50%) and happiness (44%) proving the most popular.  

Mike Howarth, Content Manager for BFBS states: 

“This really is BFBS at its very best. For 75 years we’ve been alongside the British Forces – entertaining and raising morale. Music really does bring people together and this list reflects that. It’s great to see so much variety – tracks which mean so much to people – and to hear the stories and memories behind them.”

Image: © Crown Copyright 2017

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