While "Blue Smoke" was recorded and released 70 years ago, it was actually written on the troopship Aquitania which left Pipitea Wharf, Wellington on 2 May 1940 by Private Ruru Karaitiana, a member of the 28th Maori Battalion concert party. It was first performed on that troopship, and sung on the battlefields of the Middle East and beyond, before making its way home with returning soldiers. They made the song popular back home long before it was recorded.
The soldiers found comfort in music and the reminders of singing at home. Music helped them cope with the horrors of battle, and calmed and focused them to enjoy the peacetime, before fighting another day.
Today, 80 years after it was written to remind the boys of the home they were sailing away from, "Blue Smoke" endures as a song of remembrance for all those who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations. And for those of us at Blue Smoke Records it's a day that we are marking with a different sound as we head to Massey University and their state-of-the-art recording studio at the College of Creative Arts to record a new orchestral arrangement, by Mike Gibson, of this iconic wartime song 'Blue Smoke" with Stroma FilmWorks and Hamish McKeitch conducting.
In 2010, when asked what music meant for her Pixie said, "Music - it's what keeps you going through good times and bad. It kept me sane in the hard times. Forget the pills. When you've got music in your life - you'll be ok."