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The Big E – Eliminate the Negative

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112 – September, 2020

By Elaine Lessig

Let me set the scene. It is 1944. World War II continues to dominate the country’s interest and concern. Movie goers fill every seat in their local theaters, eager to see the latest films which offer a perfect outlet, and some relief, from the rigors of war. Before the feature fills the screen, the newsreel with its stories from home and far away runs in its gritty black-and-white format. The strident voice of the narrator reverberates throughout the cinema like that of town criers of long ago. Finally, the moment has arrived for the latest blockbuster movie. Here Comes the WAVES starring the crooner of crooners, Bing Crosby, is the film for which all these theater goers have been waiting with mounting excitement.

As with so many musicals of the period, the movie recounts the happy encounters of the US servicemen with the ‘WAVES’, Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Services, who served in the US Naval Reserve–mostly in medical positions. Naturally, the musical is filled with lots of catchy tunes. The most memorable of all of them from the movie is Accentuate the Positive brilliantly sung by Bing Crosby. As you read below a small part of Johnny Mercer’s lyrics, written for Harold Arlen’s music, can you see the relevance? Are there any better words of advice we can have for each other, at this very moment in time, than these written so long ago?

Accentuate the Positive

“You got to accentuate the positive

Eliminate the negative

Latch on to the affirmative

Don’t mess with Mister In-between

You got to spread joy up to the maximum

Bring gloom down to the minimum”

Click here to read the complete article
112 – September, 2020


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