RCA Victor Studios, New York – November 18, 1939, 1:30-4:30 PM
043390-1 Ciribiribin (RE vcl, BF arr) Bluebird 10507
043391-1 Careless (RE vcl) Bluebird 10520
043392-1 Oh Johnny, Oh Johnny, Oh! (MH vcl) Bluebird 10507
For one of the only times in his recording career, Glenn Miller devoted an entire session to songs that were already hits for other artists.
CIRIBIRIBIN, like so many of Glenn’s 1939 recordings, was a real oldie, an Italian popular song written by Alberto Pestlozza way back in 1898. Opera singer Grace Moore had made a crossover recording of it in 1936 and then Benny Goodman swung it in 1938. Shortly after the Goodman session, featured trumpeter Harry James started his own band and chose the melody for his theme song, played at both sweet and swing tempos. Harry first waxed it in February 1939 as an instrumental.
JOHNSON RAG lyricist Jack Lawrence was assigned to write English lyrics, which were then recorded by Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters in September, then by James with vocalist Frank Sinatra on November 8, followed by this Miller recording.
Bill Finegan’s cheerful arrangement is nicely played, with an equally cheery Ray Eberle vocal.
CARELESS, written by bandleader Dick Jurgens and singer Eddy Howard (with a musical assist from Lew Quadling) was a huge hit for them, and later became Eddy Howard’s theme song when he spun off his own band. Glenn’s version highlights the reeds and the Miller Sound, along with a more serious Eberle vocal.
OH JOHNNY, OH JOHNNY, OH! brings Marion Hutton back to the recording mike after a pretty long absence. It’s a jolly rendition, beginning with a lengthy riff fade-in that goes on for more than 20 seconds before the familiar melody is stated. Surprise!
The song goes back to 1917, written by Abe Olman and Ed Rose. It was a huge World War I-era hit, both in its original form and with an additional set of patriotic lyrics, exhorting potential Army recruits to enlist. Girl singer Wee Bonnie Baker revived it in mid-1939, in a cutsie-poo rendition with Orrin Tucker’s sweet band that became an enormous success.
The Andrews Sisters then struck gold with it and Glenn followed soon after. The Miller version didn’t make waves, but the Sisters would soon be collaborating with Glenn in unexpected ways!
Perhaps realizing that it’s always best to make your own hits, rather than ride on another’s coattails, the next Miller sessions would feature all-new, fresh songs.