A Million Dreams Ago

Mickey McMickle, Charles Frankhauser, Zeke Zarchy, John Best (tp); Glenn Miller, Paul Tanner, Jimmy Priddy, Frank D’Annolfo (tb); Hal McIntyre, Wilbur Schwartz, Ernie Caceres, Tex Beneke, Al Klink (reeds) Chummy MacGregor (p); Jack Lathrop (g); Rollie Bundock (b); Maurice Purtill (d)’ Ray Eberle, Marion Hutton (vcl); Jerry Gray, Bill Finegan, (arr).

RCA Victor Studios, Chicago, IL – June 13, 1940, 1:00-5:25 PM

053130-1      When the Swallows Come Back to Capistrano

(RE vcl, BF arr)          Bluebird 10776

053131-1      A Million Dreams Ago ((RE vcl, BF arr)       Bluebird 10768

053132-1      Blueberry Hill (RE vcl, BF arr)                      Bluebird 10768

053133-1      A Cabana In Havana (MH vcl, BF arr)         Bluebird 10776

053134-1      Be Happy (MH vcl, BF arr)                             Bluebird 10796

053135-1      Angel Child (RE vcl, BF arr)                           Bluebird 10796

053135-2      Angel Child (RE vcl, BF arr)                          first issued on LP

 

"Glenn Miller Orchestra" Brass

On the road since the April 28th recording date, Glenn and the band now headed further west than they had ever been. After another week in the DC area, they turned the band bus up and down the East Coast on the spring college prom circuit, then south to North Carolina, up north to Western Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Illinois, arriving in Chicago on June 11.  A studio session came two days later.

Glenn hadn’t recorded in Chicago’s Victor facilities since his Ben Pollack sideman days in 1928. One can wonder how he felt returning there as a top bandleader. It is too bad that the song selection for this date wasn’t better – three of the six numbers were not truly worthy of the hottest band in the land.

Personnel-wise, the main change was the loss of hot trumpeter Clyde Hurley, who left in early June. Hurley had not been particularly inspired by the band and soon was playing with Tommy Dorsey. Charlie Frankhauser replaced him and hung around for a while. Johnny Best took on most of the jazz solos.

Oddly, two of the songs on this date were revived successfully in the early rock ‘n roll years of 1956-57 – WHEN THE SWALLOWS COME BACK TO CAPISTRANO by Pat Boone and BLUEBERRY HILL by Fats Domino. Both had connections to Louis Armstrong. The composer of SWALLOWS, Leon Rene, has also written Louis’ theme song, WHEN Its SLEEPY TIME DOWN SOUTH and Satchmo had recorded BLUEBERRY HILL in 1949. His slow, bluesy interpretation likely influenced Fats Domino to similarly revive it.

gm swallowsGetting back to Miller, WHEN THE SWALLOWS COME BACK TO CAPISTRANO is handled in typical Miller fashion. Ray Eberle sounds OK, if a bit less relaxed than on the previous session. A pleasant, though not particularly memorable rendition. The tune’s background is actually more interesting than the song itself, memorializing the yearly springtime return of the swallow flocks to the Mission San Juan Capistrano in California.

gm blueberryhBLUEBERRY HILL was a top hit for Glenn, but truth to tell, is nothing special as a record.   Composer Vincent Rose had been a well-known bandleader-songwriter in the 1920s, turning out WHISPERING, AVALON and LINGER AWHILE early in the decade. Fifteen years later, he caught fire again with THE UMBRELLA MAN and now, BLUEBERRY HILL.

gm millilonThough he was reputed to be slower at turning out arrangements than Jerry Gray, Bill Finegan penned all the charts on this date, for the first and only time. A MILLION DREAMS AGO originated in the Dick Jurgens band, as had the earlier hit, CARELESS. It was composed by the same trio – bandleader Jurgens, singer Eddy Howard and lyricist Lew Quadling and proved to be nearly as popular.

gm milliomAfter a lovely reed intro, Beneke plays the first chorus in a most mellow fashion. With above-average lyrics to work with, Ray turns out a fine vocal. Marion Hutton isn’t so lucky with her two songs, however. In interviews, she later complained that Ray got the good numbers and she was stuck with the “crap songs.” Two cases in point – A CABANA IN HAVANA and BE HAPPY.

In a Latin-swing vein, CABANA is an attempt to cash in on earlier hits, SAY SI-SI and especially, Johnny Mercer’s witty WEEK-END OF A PRIVATE SECRETARY (which Marion had sung on radio earlier in the year).  Unusual in that era, the composers, Mabel Wayne and Tot Seymour were women. Wayne specialized in Latin-tinged songs like IT HAPPENED IN MONTEREY, IN A LITTLE SPANISH TOWN and RAMONA; lyricist Seymour was more eclectic, penning the words to swing tunes CROSS PATCH and NO OTHER ONE.

The words to A CABANA IN HAVANA are just wordy, not witty. Marion has a hard time getting them all out at a fast tempo. The only part of the disc that pleases is the section after the vocal, where Finegan’s writing and Beneke’s sax take some pleasant liberties.

As mentioned earlier, BE HAPPY is another mindless ditty, written by the unlikely trio of songwriter Henry Nemo, bandleader Louis Prima and Harlem arranger Edgar Battle. After the opening vocal, there is a nice passage for the trombones and a fine Beneke solo, but then Marion comes back to chirp another inane chorus. Oh, well – at least the whole record is only a fraction over two minutes in length!

gmangelchildLastly, the “crap song” virus infects Ray Eberle, who is saddled with ANGEL CHILD, a tired-sounding number that might have been fresh in 1922. Not surprisingly, that’s when it was written by vaudevillians Georgie Price, Benny Davis and Abner Silver. Why this vintage non-hit was revived here is anyone’s guess. Maybe Glenn, who was getting into music publishing, had a hand in its reappearance?

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After the session ended, once again the band went back on tour through the Midwest. A two-week July engagement at the Panther Room of Chicago’s Hotel Sherman was the only respite from a constant schedule of one-nighters. Recording sessions took a back seat, until the second week of August.

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PENNSYLVANIA 6-5000

Legh Knowles, Clyde Hurley, Zeke Zarchy, John Best (tp); Glenn Miller, Paul Tanner, Jimmy Priddy, Frank D’Annolfo (tb); Hal McIntyre, Wilbur Schwartz, Ernie Caceres, Tex Beneke, Al Klink (reeds) Chummy MacGregor (p); Jack Lathrop (g); Rollie Bundock (b); Maurice Purtill (d); Ray Eberle, Marion Hutton, Beneke, Lathrop (vcl); Jerry Gray, Bill Finegan, Miller (arr).

RCA Victor Studios, New York – April 28, 1940, 1:00-5:45 PM

048963-1      Pennsylvania 6-5000 (JG arr)         Bluebird 10754

048964-1      Bugle Call Rag (GM arr)       Bluebird 10740

048965-1      The Nearness of You (RE vcl, BF arr) Bluebird 10745

048966          W.P.A. (TB & Band vcl, BF arr)             rejected & unissued

048967-1      Mister Meadowlark (JL vcl, JG arr) Bluebird 10745

048967-2      Mister Meadowlark (JL vcl, JG arr) first issued on LP

048968-1      My Blue Heaven (BF arr)     Bluebird 10994

 

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Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Virginia and Washington, DC – that was the Glenn Miller band’s road itinerary since it concluded its engagement at the Café Rouge on April 4th. Since they were broadcasting their thrice-weekly Chesterfield shows from DC, they couldn’t venture too far from the nation’s capitol during April.

Returning briefly to New York and RCA Victor at the very end of the month, Glenn scored with one of his best-ever record dates. Every record was a winner, though the one unissued number will always remain a cipher.

Who (even today) doesn’t know that PENNSYLVANIA 6-5000 is the phone number of New York’s Pennsylvania Hotel? This most famous of phone numbers commemorates Glenn’s engagements at the hotel’s Café Rouge and will still connect you, though it is now written as 736-5000.

gmPa65000Earlier in 1940, Jerry Gray had written an arrangement of THE DIPSY DOODLE for one of Glenn’s radio medleys. Glenn liked catchy riff tunes and thought the countermelody that Jerry had inserted might make a good number on its own. That was the genesis of PE6-5000, which became one of the band’s catchiest riff tunes. The title, chanted by the band and signaled by the sound of a ringing telephone helped make the record memorable. Having been with the band for just a few months, Jerry Gray was already proving his worth.

On the jazz side, trumpeter Johnny Best contributes a lengthy, well-constructed solo, Beneke is his usual dependable self on tenor and Moe Purtill provides rhythmic support. As if the title riff isn’t enough to carry the piece, the increasing volume of the repeated rising and falling riffs at the end were guaranteed to send fans into swing nirvana.

BUGLE CALL RAG was an oldie in the band book, dating back at least to 1938, in the frenzied up-tempo mode that Glenn was starting to pull away from, as evidenced by the dancier pulse of PENNSYLVANIA 6-5000. Miller’s chart is very different from the dainty, refined one he penned in 1935 for Ray Noble’s band.

gm glenn-miller-bugle-call-rag-rca-victor-78 Still, the fans did dig the killer-dillers and this one’s a doozy, giving Moe Purtill a trademark workout. Aside from brief explosions from Glenn, Tex and Ernie Caceres, it’s all Moe and band riffs. Often, the Miller band’s jazz numbers came off as constrained in the studio, with live versions being looser and more effective. In this case, the record is a fine representation of the band’s hot style, with an imaginative Purtill solo.

gm-bugle_call_ragIntroduced by the New Orleans Rhythm Kings in 1922, BUGLE CALL RAG was composed by band members Jack Pettis and Elmer Schoebel, with lyrics by Billy Meyers. The NORK was one of the most influential early white New Orleans jazz bands. Members also contributed FAREWELL BLUES, ECCENTRIC, PANAMA and TIN ROOF BLUES to the Dixieland repertoire, though many swing bands like Tommy Dorsey, Bob Crosby and Benny Goodman performed them as well.

Big change of pace – THE NEARNESS OF YOU, a classic song given a classic treatment. Composed by Hoagy Carmichael with lyrics by Ned Washington, it’s a great vehicle for an inspired Bill Finegan ballad arrangement. The Miller Sound leads off, with Tex leading into one of Ray Eberle’s best-ever vocals. He is totally assured, even reaching smoothly for the high notes; the lush accompaniment makes for a memorable interpretation.

gm nearnessWe shall never know how the next record sounded, since the masters were rejected and destroyed. The song, W.P.A., written by Jesse Stone, referenced the Roosevelt New Deal program that provided jobs for the jobless. The term was an acronym for the Works Progress Administration, which employed three million men and women at its peak, including many minority workers, handling public works, road construction and infrastructure projects. Needless to say, the program came under enormous criticism by the Republicans, as did nearly all of FDR’s New Deal legislation.

gm wpaThe song, too, came under heavy criticism from left-wing groups (and record producer John Hammond) for its lyrics lightly kidding the cushy jobs in the program, which portrayed minority workers as working as little as possible. That image was far from the truth. Ironically, composer Jesse Stone was himself black, with a resume that included arranging and writing for many Harlem bands, including his own.

In any case, the American Federation of Musicians condemned the song and no recordings were issued on RCA or Columbia. Apparently, Decca didn’t get the memo, as they released 78s by Jan Savitt and Louis Armstrong with the Mills Brothers with little protest.

Moving on to MISTER MEADOWLARK, a delightful Walter Donaldson melody with hip lyrics by old friend Johnny Mercer. Johnny always enjoyed writing about birds – BOB WHITE and SKYLARK, for example. Johnny made a charming disc of MISTER with Bing Crosby and while never a huge hit, it was also covered by Glenn, Benny Goodman, Harry James, Artie Shaw and Woody Herman.

gm meadowlarkThe Miller version also marks the vocal debut of Jack Lathrop, the band’s new guitarist. In the 30s, Lathrop was a member of the Tune Twisters vocal group, who sang with Glenn and Ray Noble under the nom-de-disque of the Freshmen. Miller also employed the Twisters on his 1937 Decca date, so when the time came to replace Richard Fisher, whom he had never hit it off with, Glenn brought in Lathrop on April 26th. Figuring he had acquired a singer as well as a guitarist, Miller put him right to work. Jack’s voice had an impish quality, perfect for light tunes like this one and he acquits himself well. Jerry Gray wrote the cheery arrangement.

Last up was another oldie in the band book, Bill Finegan’s chart of MY BLUE HEAVEN, which had been played on the air as early as March 1939. Walter Donaldson (again) and George Whiting wrote it in 1927 and it provided a huge hit for crooner Gene Austin. In 1935, Jimmie Lunceford recorded the grooviest version ever, with a super-hep vocal by the Lunceford Trio.

Glenn swings for the rafters here and he plays a very assured full-chorus solo, followed by a hectic one from Tex. Moe brings it home, concluding one of the band’s best hot swing records.

Finishing up this lengthy date at 5:45 PM, the band took a dinner break, then headed right up to Harlem for an 8 PM to 2 AM performance at the Savoy Ballroom (with a break from 10 PM to midnight), which brought in 4,000 screaming fans.   Heading right back onto the road the next day, we wouldn’t catch the band in a recording studio again until mid-June and at a new venue!

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Fools Rush In

RCA Victor studios, New York – March 30, 1940, 1:00-5:00 PM

048482-1      Boog-It (MH vcl, JG arr)        Bluebird 10689

048483-1      Yours Is My Heart Alone (BF arr)   Bluebird 10728

048484-1      I’m Stepping Out With a Memory Tonight (RE vcl) Bluebird 10717

048485-1      Alice Blue Gown         Bluebird 10701

048486-1      Wonderful One (JG arr)       Bluebird 10701

048487-1      Devil May Care (RE vcl)       Bluebird 10717

 

RCA Victor studios, New York – March 31, 1940, 2:00-6:30 PM

048488-1      April Played the Fiddle (RE vcl, BF arr)      Bluebird 10694

048489-1      Fools Rush In (RE vcl)          Bluebird 10728

048490-1      I Haven’t Time To Be a Millionaire (TB vcl, JG arr) Bluebird 10604

048490-2      I Haven’t Time To Be a Millionaire (TB vcl, JG arr) first issued on LP

048491-1      Slow Freight (BF arr)            Bluebird 10740

After the February 24th RCA session, five weeks would pass before the Glenn Miller band returned to the studio.  They weren’t traveling; New York was their home base, as they were in the midst of a three-month residency at the Hotel Pennsylvania. Non-stop work kept them too busy for much else.  Two nightly evening sessions at the Cafe Rouge, three Chesterfield shows a week plus rehearsals and an additional two-week killer gig at the Paramount Theater (36 stage shows!) had the band panting for relief.

The strain finally got to Glenn, who collapsed from exhaustion and the flu on February 27th, the day before the Paramount opening.  He was hospitalized for over a week, returning to the bandstand on March 6th.  During his absence, friends Tommy Dorsey, Gene Krupa, Charlie Barnet and Dick Stabile led the band at the Paramount.  Charile Spivak and Claude Thornhill brought their bands to fill in for Glenn at the Pennsylvania while the band was doing their Chesterfield radio programs.

The Andrews Sisters join Glenn on the Chesterfield show, early 1940.

The Andrews Sisters join Glenn on the Chesterfield show, early 1940.

The Andrews Sisters, costars of the Chesterfield show, also appeared with the band at the Paramount. Cab drivers likely made a bundle, constantly ferrying the orchestra all over the city.  Once he returned to lead his band, Glenn thanked all the friends who helped him out in a special appearance on the Paramount stage.

Tommy Dorsey, Gene Krupa, Dick Stabile and Charlie Barnet join Glenn on the Paramount stage.

Tommy Dorsey, Gene Krupa, Dick Stabile and Charlie Barnet join Glenn on the Paramount stage.

The Sisters finished their 13-week contract for the radio program on March 21 and weren’t renewed. The sponsors decided that Miller could carry the show by himself; also, Glenn was scheduled to take the band on the road in April and the gals were going on their own road trip to Hollywood.  Coordinating the two schedules to include three live joint programs a week was an impossibility.

The wildly successful (and profitable) Paramount engagement concluded on March 12 and the Cafe Rouge-Hotel Pennsylvania residency would end on April 4. Health restored, Glenn was ready to take the band back into the studio for two sessions to get some new tunes on wax for the fans.  Ten numbers on two consecutive days were completed – six good popular songs and four instrumentals.

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Once again, Glenn used Marion Hutton sparingly, assigning her just a single vocal.  BOOG-IT originated in the Cab Calloway band, written by Buck Ram, who had also composed UTT DA ZAY and CHOP CHOP CHARLIE CHAN for Calloway. Though Ram was Jewish, he specialized in “hep” novelties for black artists like the Ink Spots, Ella Fitzgerald and later, the Platters. Lyricist Jack Palmer also regularly wrote for the Calloway and Jimmie Lunceford bands, penning THE JUMPIN’ JIVE and HI-HO TRAILUS BOOT WHIP.  The new dance described in the lyrics consisted of gesturing with your hands “like shinin’ a window, but you ain’t got no window, so you just picture a window and BOOG-IT!”  Miss Hutton likely danced her tuchus off while performing the number in person!  On record, the band adds vocal punctuations and handclaps, along with swinging solos by Hal McIntyre on alto and fat-toned trumpeter Clyde Hurley.

Marion steps away from the microphone for a gorgeous Bill Finegan instrumental arrangement of YOURS IS MY HEART ALONE, the most popular melody from Land of Smiles, a Viennese operetta by Franz Lehar, composer of The Merry Widow.  Published in 1929, it was introduced by tenor Richard Tauber who made the first recording in German.  Several British singers and bands went on to popularize the song in a rather stiff English translation by veteran lyricist Harry B. Smith.  In a revised form, it was republished and recorded in 1940 by Glen Gray & Kenny Sargent, Tommy Dorsey & Frank Sinatra, Benny Goodman & Helen Forrest and Glenn, who did it strictly instrumental.  Taken at a brisk tempo, the reeds sing out in the first chorus, muted brass in the second, capped by a liquid tenor sax passage by Tex Beneke.  The mutes come off for the last chorus, as filigrees by Finegan wrap around the melody.  A lovely, underrated recording!

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Ray Eberle shows up for I’M STEPPING OUT WITH A MEMORY TONIGHT, by Herb Magidson and Allie Wrubel, an uncelebrated team who nevertheless wrote a pile of hits – GONE WITH THE WIND, MUSIC MAESTRO PLEASE, I’LL BUY THAT DREAM, THE MASQUERADE IS OVER and others.  The Miller Men give it a pleasant performance all around, with an efficient Eberle vocal and a distinctive Beneke solo.

Back to instrumental territory, for two lovely waltzes, ALICE BLUE GOWN and WONDERFUL ONE.   A musty favorite from the 1919 Broadway score of Irene, ALICE BLUE GOWN was built around a topical reference to the color Alice Blue, an azure fabric tint favored by Alice Roosevelt Longworth, daughter of former President Teddy Roosevelt.  Long favored as a fashion trendsetter, Ms. Longworth popularized the hue for female attire.  The Harry Tierney musical about a poor Irish shopgirl who breaks into high society was a massive hit, as was the song.

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RKO remade the story in 1940, with British stage star Anna Neagle as Irene, including a lavish Technicolor sequence that showed off the famous gown in all its glory.  Though a number of hot renditions had been done by Red Nichols (including Glenn in the personnel) and Ben Pollack, the Miller 78 plugged the new film and the song’s original waltz tempo.  Bill Finegan’s richly detailed arrangement shifts the melody from section to section and then to Beneke’s plush saxophone.

WONDERFUL ONE originated in the 1922 Paul Whiteman band, then creating its first sensation of the nascent Jazz Age.  Crafted by Whiteman and arranger Ferde Grofe, the beautiful melody was as far from jazz as you could get, but still became an instant hit.  Jerry Gray treats the number simply and effectively, with softly muted brass and reeds. The coda is especially lovely.

We return to the present for the last tune of the day, DEVIL MAY CARE, written by familiar Miller contributors Johnny Burke and Harry Warren. It’s a quality pop song, which sounds like it might have been arranged by Glenn. Ray Eberle sings in a comfortable range for a change and the tempo in slow enough to allow him to give some meaning to the words. There is a very pleasant trombone choir in the final chorus before the full band finishes it off.

gm If_I_Had_My_Way_Postergmif i had

Glenn and the boys were back in the studio the very next day with more new songs, including two from Bing Crosby’s latest film, If I Had My Way. Though some of the movie’s music looked back to the Gay 90’s, these tunes by Johnny Burke and Jimmy Monaco were right up to date.  APRIL PLAYED THE FIDDLE is a very endearing number, sung in rather lackluster fashion by Bing, but handled much more cheerfully by Glenn and Ray.

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Bing sounds half-asleep singing I HAVEN’T TIME TO BE A MILLIONAIRE in the film; Tex Beneke doesn’t bring much more connection to his rendition, sounding as if he’s reading the lyrics for the first time, which could very well have been the case!  Despite this, the band and altoist Ernie Caceres deliver the tune in a jaunty fashion.

Johnny Mercer and Rube Bloom next deliver a classic standard, FOOLS RUSH IN, a major hit from day one.  Glenn’s recording is iconic, with Eberle and the band combining for a straightforward, yet totally memorable rendition.  The Tommy Dorsey-Frank Sinatra version was nearly as big a hit as Glenn’s. Incidentally, Tommy was still dogging Glenn’s heels.  Of the ten tunes on these March Miller sessions, Dorsey had competing records out of six of them.

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Our BOOG-IT friend Buck Ram also composed SLOW FREIGHT, first recorded by Benny Carter’s orchestra in January 1940. Glenn quickly picked up on it, hoping for another hit in the TUXEDO JUNCTION vein. Even the title was reminiscent of the earlier number.  Though the record went nowhere, it’s a more interesting and varied composition than JUNCTION.  To maximize the similarity, Glenn again had Mickey McMickle playing it straight on muted trumpet, in conversation with the groovier Clyde Hurley, who uses a different-sounding mute for his horn.

No rest for the weary – with the New York gigs completed, the road beckoned for the Glenn Miller band. Another month of travel would pass before RCA Victor welcomed them back – and they wouldn’t be traveling by SLOW FREIGHT!

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Polka Dots and Moonbeams

Legh Knowles, Clyde Hurley, Mickey McMickle, Johnny Best (tp); Glenn Miller, Paul Tanner, Jimmy Priddy, Frank D’Annolfo (tb); Hal McIntyre, Wilbur Schwartz, Ernie Caceres, Tex Beneke, Al Klink (reeds); Chummy MacGregor (p); Dick Fisher (g); Rollie Bundock (b); Maurice Purtill (d); Ray Eberle, Marion Hutton (vcl); Jerry Gray, Bill Finegan (arr).

RCA Victor Studios, New York – February 19, 1940, 1:00-4:30 PM

047067-1      Imagination (RE vcl)                         Bluebird 10622

047068-1      Shake Down the Stars (RE vcl)        Bluebird 10689

047069-1      I’ll Never Smile Again (RE vcl, JG arr)   Bluebird 10673

047070-1      Starlight and Music (RE vcl, JG arr)            Bluebird 10684

 

RCA Victor Studios, New York – February 24, 1940, 2:00-5:15 PM

047093-1      Polka Dots and Moonbeams (RE vcl, JG arr) Bluebird 10657

047094-1      My, My (MH vcl, JG arr)        Bluebird 10631

047095-1      Say It (RE vcl, BF arr)           Bluebird 10631

047096-1      Moments in the Moonlight (RE vcl) Bluebird 10638

047097-1      Hear My Song, Violetta (RE vcl)       Bluebird 10684

047098-1      Sierra Sue (RE vcl, JG arr)    Bluebird 10638

Two Glenn Miller record sessions during the latter half of February 1940 produced ten record sides, all popular songs of the day. Nine of them had vocals by Ray Eberle, with one brief look-in from Marion Hutton. Churning out the commercial pops kept the music publishers happy; and several of these songs were hits, though not necessarily for Glenn!

gmimaginationIMAGINATION, by the prolific Jimmy Van Heusen and Johnny Burke, was a major Miller success and became a standard. It’s a sweet, charming song well handled by Ray and the band. Unusually, there is no band intro, we are plunked right into the song, performed at a relaxed, medium tempo.

And who wrote the next song, SHAKE DOWN THE STARS? Jimmy Van Heusen again, this time with lyricist Eddie DeLange. The lyrics paint a pretty grim picture of thwarted love, but Miller gives it a more hopeful feel. A bluesy, Lunceford-style introduction sets the mood and Eberle’s vocal is plaintively effective.

I’LL NEVER SMILE AGAIN is known far and wide as a huge record hit for Tommy Dorsey, Frank Sinatra and the Pied Pipers. Their innovative, hushed chamber group approach with celeste backing was a fresh sound for the time and well suited the mournful song. In fact it was Sinatra’s first hit with the band. (Songwriter Ruth Lowe later wrote Frank’s theme song, PUT YOUR DREAMS AWAY.)

gmsmilgmgmsmiletdgmsmilefsThe story given at the time was that Ruth Lowe wrote it in the aftermath of her young husband’s death. Later it was reported that she had actually written it earlier. Whatever the case, the song certainly struck a chord with listeners.   Glenn got to it first, though. He recorded it two months before Tommy attempted it in April 1940. That first Dorsey recording was unissued; a remake a month later first hit the charts in July and was Number One for 12 weeks.

Glenn had a real head start, but his Bluebird disc was a major disappointment. Getting the standard Miller treatment, the song comes across as nothing out of the ordinary; it needed special handling, as Tommy realized.   Strangely, Glenn apparently sensed that the song had hit potential. On a March 4th broadcast, he took pains to introduce the song’s radio debut with a prediction that it would be a big hit. It was, but not for him!

STARLIGHT AND MUSIC, which concluded the February 19th session, is another forgettable recording. The song is unmemorable and it gets a decent performance, but that’s about all that can be said. Writers Maurice Hart, Al Hoffman and Walter Kent sound like nobodies, but Hoffman later wrote the score for Walt Disney’s CINDERELLA and Kent composed I’LL BE HOME FOR CHRISTMAS and THE WHITE CLIFFS OF DOVER.

gmpoladotsThe February 24th date opened with another Miller 78 hit, POLKA DOTS AND MOONBEAMS. Whaddya know, once again the composers were Johnny Burke and Jimmy Van Heusen. In the wrong hands, the cheerful lyric, referencing a “pug-nosed dream,” could border on treacle, but Glenn (and Dorsey-Sinatra) handled it well.

The lovely melody became a jazz standard, with Lester Young, Bud Powell, Stan Getz, Gerry Mulligan, Bill Evans and Johnny Hodges among those who performed it in later years.

gm1940 Buck Benny rides again (ing) 01Paramount Pictures must have had some kind of deal with RCA and/or Glenn, as Miller regularly recorded songs from their musicals. Here come two more, MY! MY! and SAY IT. The great Frank Loesser and Jimmy McHugh teamed up for these tuneful numbers from Buck Benny Rides Again, a Jack Benny musical Western. It featured his radio cast, taking place on his fictitious Nevada ranch that was a sketch favorite on the air.  Benny was so popular at the time that the film was one of the Top Ten moneymakers of 1940!

gmmymygmsayiteMY! MY! was a familiar catchphrase of Benny’s sidekick, Eddie “Rochester” Anderson, making it an appealing title hook for a song.   Rochester sang it in the film, but here Marion takes her only vocal on these two sessions. Following Miss Hutton is the first recorded Miller solo by newcomer Ernie Caceres. This talented Mexican jazzman came to Glenn from Jack Teagarden’s band and was an important addition to the band’s jazz contingent with his spiky solos on alto and baritone sax, clarinet and even the occasional vocal.

gmsay itEberle takes a nicely relaxed vocal on SAY IT, the film’s lovely ballad. It’s a song that should have become a standard.   Ray is even more hushed and effective on a broadcast version of the song a few weeks later, part of a Something Old/New/Borrowed/Blue medley.

Society bandleader Richard Himber co-wrote the next song, MOMENTS IN THE MOONLIGHT. Himber apparently was a leader who actually wrote the songs he is credited with, including his popular theme song, IT ISN’T FAIR. Lyrics were provided by Irving Gordon and Al Kaufman. Their other hits include UNFORGETTABLE, BLUE PRELUDE and Duke Ellington’s PRELUDE TO A KISS.

It’s a pleasant number taken at the perfect medium tempo, but pitched at the high end of Ray Eberle’s range, giving his voice a strained quality. It took a long time before Glenn began to lower Ray’s keys, allowing him to sing at a more comfortable pitch. Tex Beneke peeks in briefly before the windup.

gmviolettaHEAR MY SONG, VIOLETTA had a strange lineage. It was a popular German ballad by composers Othmar Klose and Rudolf Lukesch, introduced in 1936. Somehow it made it’s way to these shores; Buddy Bernier and Bob Emmerich provided the English lyrics. It became a moderate hit, with recordings by Glenn, Jimmy Dorsey, Tommy Dorsey and Van Alexander. Later, in 1947, Irish tenor Josef Locke recorded it (with new lyrics by Buddy Pepper) in tango tempo and it practically became his theme song.

Glenn treats the melody as a fast ballad and Ray sings it unadorned, with slightly suspect intonation. The band swings it a bit in the final chorus, with nice cymbal work by Moe Purtill.

gmsierra s posterFinally, the six-tune February 24th session wraps up with SIERRA SUE, another Miller excursion into Western territory. Subtitled “A Song of the Hills,” it was written by Joseph B. Carey back in 1916. Dusted off 24 years later, it became the title song of a Gene Autry musical Western. Gene Krupa and Casa Loma also waxed it and it was performed by such diverse talents as soignee cabaret singer Doris Rhodes and jazzman Bud Freeman!

gmsierraThough the term “country-western music” didn’t exist in 1916, the tune is a typical prairie ballad, played in citified style by Glenn, who throws in some “boo-wah” brass phrases before Eberle’s vocal.

Ten songs in five days – that was a lot of recording in such a short time for Glenn.  It’s worth noting that of these ten, Tommy Dorsey would also record eight of them, all after Glenn did! It might simply be coincidence, but Tommy was feuding with Glenn at the time over money matters and it’s not unlikely that Dorsey wanted to cut into Glenn’s Bluebird record sales (at 35 cents a copy) by cutting the same songs for the prestigious full-priced (75 cents) Victor label.

More than a month would pass before we next join the band in the studio and a lot would happen in the interim!

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