Although no one knew it at the time, the United States entry into the Second World War signed a death knell Soundies, although that demise would be delayed for more than five years.
In the fall of 1941, a few months before the formal declaration of war, one of the main suppliers of aluminum to Mills – an ore was an essential component of the Panoram – was fined by the Office of Production Management. While the reason is not clear, all sales to Mills ceased at that time. By February Mills was out of allunimun and all Panoram production stopped. The company was left with an obligation to release eight Soundie weekly which resulted in an large expendure of moey, and a rather fixed and insufficient income flow.
Another result of war was an increase in Soundies with a patriotic theme. While very few listeners today are familiar with Barry Wood, he was a household name to radio listeners in the early 1940s. A baritone with a fine set of pipes, Wood preceded Frank Sinatra as the featured vocalist on radio’s “Your Hit Parade.”
In 1941 Irving Berlin “stole” from himself and reinvented an earlier hit “The Yam” (from the 1938 Astaire and Rogers musical Carefree) – a song with the plaintive call, “any yams today” – as a new song, “Any Bonds Today?” The song was reportedly written at the request of US Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau to promote the sale of war bonds. “Any Bonds Today?” was introduced by Barry Wood at a June 1941 event at the War College in Washington, D.C. The song was a hit, and its message was important enough that the song was made into two different Soundies. Here we present the Barry Wood version, produced in January 1942, with musical support by a studio orchestra under the direction of Jack Shilkret. The swing and upbeat feel of the music notwithstanding, this is a chilling reminder that in 1942 victory over the Axis powers was anything but assured.