RCA Victor Studios, New York – November 22, 1939, 1:15-4:15 PM
043909-1 In an Old Dutch Garden (RE vcl) Bluebird 10553
043910-1 This Changing World (RE vcl) Bluebird 10526
043911-1 On a Little Street in Singapore (RE vcl, AG arr) Bluebird 10526, Victor 20-1585
043912-1 Vagabond Dreams (RE vcl) Bluebird 10520
The third Miller session of November 1939 led off with a pretty banal song brightened by the distinctive Glenn touch. IN AN OLD DUTCH GARDEN (BY AN OLD DUTCH MILL) is exactly what you’d expect from the title, with wooden shoes, tulips and windmills referenced.
Will Grosz, composer of THE DAY WE MEET AGAIN, which Glenn recorded back in June 1939, wrote the song. Grosz died at the end of the year, but did produce, as one of his last compositions, a Miller hit in 1940, ALONG THE SANTA FE TRAIL. Another 1940 Grosz song, MAKE-BELIEVE ISLAND, was published with Glenn’s picture on the sheet music, even though the band never recorded it.
When perusing the Miller discography, it’s apparent that Glenn had a lower threshold for selecting second-tier songs than, say, Artie Shaw and Benny Goodman. The latter two bands recorded far more quality show and movie tunes than Glenn. Top songwriters like Gershwin, Arlen, Rodgers, Kern and Porter rarely show up in the Miller repertoire.
Glenn got involved early on with song plugging and publishing, starting his own firm, Mutual Music, in 1941. Bands he invested in, like Charlie Spivak and Hal McIntyre, dutifully played Glenn’s favored songs, as we’ll note later on.
Back to OLD DUTCH GARDEN – it’s a pleasant enough record, with smoothly varied section playing, a touch of Beneke and of course, Ray singing, all of which doesn’t disguise the basic inanity of the song.
The next record has a better pedigree – THIS CHANGING WORLD, by quirky female composer Dana Suesse (her BLUE MOONLIGHT was waxed by Glenn back in August). Harold Adamson’s thoughtful lyric is well sung by Ray and the chart has some welcome variations, including a nice Johnny Best trumpet intro, Glenn’s solo modulation into the vocal and lovely sax writing in the coda.
More Ray Eberle in a similar vein is heard on ON A LITTLE STREET IN SINGAPORE, which sounds, in the Miller version, about as Asian as an old Dutch garden. The Harry James-Frank Sinatra rendition is far more atmospheric. Still, it’s a fine disc of the Peter De Rose-Billy Hill ballad. De Rose had written THE LAMP IS LOW earlier in the year and Hill was better known for his Western songs, like EMPTY SADDLES and WAGON WHEELS, but Tin Pan Alley songwriters were nothing if not versatile!
One other note about SINGAPORE – in 1944, during the recording ban, when the Sinatra-James disc was reissued by Columbia to cash in on Frankie’s popularity, Glenn’s disc was also dusted off as the flip side of the first release of BASKET WEAVER MAN, the last unissued Miller item in the RCA vaults.
Ray is upfront again to finish the session with Hoagy Carmichael’s VAGABOND DREAMS. Not one of Hoagy’s better-known songs, it has a mournful quality that might have worked better as an instrumental without Jack Lawrence’s unmemorable lyric.
Between the first and second November recording session, Glenn and the band stepped off the road for their second engagement at the Meadowbrook Ballroom, for a three-week Autumn stint that lasted from November 16 through December 6. Their next Bluebird date was scheduled for that last day at the Meadowbrook.