Long Time No See, Baby

Mickey McMickle, Johnny Best, Ray Anthony, Billy May (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,vcl); Trigger Alpert (b); Maurice Purtill (d); Ray Eberle, Marion Hutton (vcl); Bill Finegan, Jerry Gray (arr).

RCA Victor Studios, New York – November 15, 1940, 1:45-4:45 PM

057648-1      Somewhere (RE vcl, JG arr)             Bluebird 10959

057649-1      Yes, My Darling Daughter (MH & Band vcl, JG arr) Bluebird 10970


RCA Victor Studios, New York – November 22, 1940, 1:30-4:30 PM

057661-1      A Stone’s Throw from Heaven (RE vcl, BF arr)  Bluebird 11063

057662-1      Helpless (RE vcl, JG arr)       Victor 20-1600

057663-1      Long Time No See, Baby (MH vcl, JG arr)   Victor 20-1563

057663-2      Long Time No See, Baby (MH vcl, JG arr)    first issued on LP

057664-1      You Are the One (RE vcl, BF arr)     Bluebird 11020

gm ASCAPThe war in Europe was having less effect on America than the war between ASCAP and BMI that had also been brewing since 1939. The American Society of Composers and Publishers had been issuing warnings to the radio networks that they would shortly be increasing song royalty charges by an enormous amount. In retaliation, broadcasters formed a competing royalty agency, Broadcast Music Incorporated. Since ASCAP had nearly every major songwriter and music publisher under their umbrella, they weren’t overly worried about competition from BMI. The new agency tried signing up composers who went underneath ASCAP’s radar, like country, blues and Latin writers, even amateurs.

By the end of 1940, BMI had built up a rather meager catalog, but it would have to do. When the ASCAP deadline of January 1, 1941 came around, the products of BMI and the public domain would have to suffice for all music broadcast by NBC and CBS. The smaller Mutual network signed early with ASCAP, so they had no worries. To make matters worse, the networks decreed that BMI tunes had to be interspersed with ASCAP songs starting on October 10, 1940, to get listeners used to the new music. For each half-hour music broadcast, four of the usual eight tunes played had to be from BMI or elsewhere.

gm ascap coverAncient, out-of-copyright composers like Stephen Foster and Eddie Leonard suddenly became popular again, as did classical song adaptations (which were already a familiar occurrence). Tchaikovsky and Debussy were now hot tickets! South American music, also newly popular, got a big boost when the song libraries of Ernesto Lecuona and Alberto Dominguez were raided for melodies and new BMI-friendly English lyrics were added.

Glenn Miller’s recorded output would shortly begin reflecting the new radio rules, since Glenn certainly wanted to get his records played on the air. His own Mutual Music publishing arm signed with BMI and he corralled any of his arrangers and musicians who also wrote songs.

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The short session of November 15th consisted of two ASCAP compositions, one a flop and the other a huge hit. SOMEWHERE is a bland song from of all things, an ice skating revue, the Ice Capades of 1941. It was written by distinguished songwriters Peter DeRose and John Latouche (the lyricist of Cabin in the Sky), but is forgotten as soon as it’s heard. The band and Ray do their usual professional job, but why Glenn singled the number out for recording is a mystery.

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On the other hand, YES MY DARLING DAUGHTER is a knockout from start to finish. Jerry Gray’s kicky arrangement, Marion’s vocal and 16 supercharged bars by seldom-featured Al Klink combine to produce a winning record. Dinah Shore and the Andrews Sisters also got big sales from their discs.

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Another session a week later produced four neglected sides, familiar only to Miller completists and all BMI products. A STONE’S THROW FROM HEAVEN is a lovely melody unfortunately saddled with a clichéd lyric. Three unknowns composed it – Bob Ray, Jan Burton and Irving Green. Ray Eberle sings the song nicely and Bill Finegan wrapped it in a fine arrangement, but nothing came of it.

YOU ARE THE ONE is yet another dull, undistinguished ballad. It was a rare collaboration between John Scott Trotter, conductor of Bing Crosby’s Kraft Music Hall radio series and Carroll Carroll, head writer for the show. Likely Glenn’s friendship with Bing resulted in this recording.

Moe Purtill, Johnny Best, Jack Lathrop, Ernie Caceres

Moe Purtill, Johnny Best, Jack Lathrop, Ernie Caceres

Miller had been using guitarist Jack Lathrop as an occasional vocalist. Now he gave him a tryout as a composer, recording and publishing two of his songs. Both tunes got a fair amount of airplay, but they went nowhere. Oddly, neither record was issued at the time, a very rare occurrence for Glenn’s output.   If RCA had not been desperate for new product during the 1942-44 recording ban, they might have languished in the vaults forever.

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HELPLESS is a sweet little tune, well sung by Ray and the record is a forgotten treat. LONG TIME NO SEE, BABY had definite possibilities, a jaunty, hip number with Marion at her best and Tex grooving on sax. The record’s delayed release did it no favors. gm long time

LONG TIME was issued in 1943 on Victor with HERE WE GO AGAIN, a product of the last Miller dates, as the flip side. HELPLESS was paired in early 1944 with a timely reissue of the 1942 WHEN JOHNNY COMES MARCHING HOME and has the distinction of being the last “new” Glenn Miller civilian band recording to be issued on Victor 78s.

Marion Hutton

Marion Hutton

For some reason, Glenn had lately been featuring Marion Hutton less frequently on records and broadcasts. On the Chesterfield airings, Marion and Ray would get one number apiece, but at the Café Rouge, she’d usually get just one vocal per half-hour program, while Ray would sing three. Her lone vocal on the November 22nd session would be her last with Miller for a long time.

Meanwhile, the trumpet section, having been in a state of flux since Clyde Hurley left in May, finally settled into a personnel configuration that would remain intact for long time.  The rest of the band was firmly set, so now Glenn had the musicians he wanted, most of whom would stay until the band broke up.

Now he needed more popular records. Glenn’s hit-making ability seemed to be on the blink as 1940 wound to its conclusion, but the next session would be a step in the right direction.

Isn’t That Just Like Love?

Mickey McMickle, Johnny Best, Ray Anthony, Billy May (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,vcl); Trigger Alpert (b); Maurice Purtill (d); Ray Eberle, Marion Hutton (vcl); Bill Finegan; Jerry Gray (arr).

RCA Victor Studios, New York – November 8, 1940, 1:30-4:30 PM

057610-1      Fresh As a Daisy (MH, TB, JL vcl, JG arr)          Bluebird 10959

057611-1      Isn’t That Just Like Love ? (JL vcl, BF arr)         Bluebird 10936

057612-1      Along the Santa Fe Trail (RE vcl)                         Bluebird 10970

057613-1      Do You Know Why ? (RE vcl, BF arr)                  Bluebird 10936


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Marion Hutton, in the first of several colorful Chesterfield promotions, 1940.

Romance was running rampant in the Glenn Miller family during the fall of 1940. Marion Hutton and Ray Eberle got married (not to each other). Also tying the knot was Glenn’s personal manager, Don Haynes, to Polly Davis, Glenn’s secretary/office manager.

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FRESH AS A DAISY is a rarity for Miller – an honest-to-goodness current Broadway show tune, from Cole Porter’s Panama Hattie. Starring Ethel Merman, the rowdy show ran over a year, but produced no lasting hits. Coincidentally, DAISY was sung in the show by Betty Hutton, Marion’s sister! The Miller record is warbled by the trio of Marion, Tex and Jack Lathrop. A Porter “list” song, along the lines of LET’S FALL IN LOVE and YOU’RE THE TOP, it has none of the wit of the earlier numbers.

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There isn’t much that Glenn can do with the wordy opus, except let the singers sing and then wrap it up. One obvious lyric change – for the line, “mild as a cigarette,” Glenn’s Chesterfield broadcast versions substituted, “mild as a Chesterfield.” Gotta keep the sponsor happy!

Radio stars Jack Benny and Fred Allen had an on-air “feud” going on in the late 30s and early 40s that spilled over from their starring programs to other shows and finally, to the movies. Love Thy Neighbor was the cinematic version of the quarrel, starring Benny, Rochester, Allen and lovely Mary Martin, thrown in for songs and romantic complications.

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In addition to the new songs by Johnny Burke and Jimmy Van Heusen, Mary Martin also performed MY HEART BELONGS TO DADDY, which had put her on the Broadway map a few years earlier.

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Jack Lathrop croons ISN’T THAT JUST LIKE LOVE, which was sung in the film by the Merry Macs vocal group. It’s pleasant, but not nearly long enough. Tex barely gets started on his solo after the vocal and is cut short by the sudden coda. As with a number of the rhythm tunes Glenn recorded during this period, there was plenty of room for an additional chorus or more.


DO YOU KNOW WHY takes its time, at a comfortable ballad tempo. It’s a superior song, aside from the questionable “until the cows come home” lyric line. Once again, Ray Eberle gets a better showcase in Bill Finegan’s plush arrangement than Frank Sinatra’s on the rather formulaic Tommy Dorsey disc. Sinatra is in great form, however. For those Miller detractors that complain about Glenn’s fast ballad tempos, let it be noted that the Dorsey recording is taken more rapildy, as are many of the other 1940 Frank/Tommy records.

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Back to the prairie again for ALONG THE SANTA FE TRAIL, a tie-in with the epic motion picture, Santa Fe Trail. This was a fanciful retelling of the pre-Civil War hunt for abolitionist John Brown.  Brown was portrayed by Raymond Massey and historical figures Jeb Stuart, George Custer and Kit Carson were enacted by Errol Flynn, Ronald Reagan and Olivia DeHavilland. The story was mostly historical hogwash, but the film was exciting and very successful.

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The title song was woven through the musical score and became quite popular.  Composer Will Grosz was by now dead for nearly a year, but apparently was still turning out hits! Veteran lyricist Al Dubin wrote the words and this right combination resulted in a first class recording of a lovely song. There’s nothing formulaic about this (uncredited) Miller ballad chart, which frames Ray Eberle at his very best.

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While events within the Miller band were running smoothly and successfully, the outside world was steadily encroaching on America’s isolationist bubble. War news from Europe was getting increasingly worse and the nation’s first peacetime draft was enacted at the end of October 1940,  Closer to home, another war was brewing between the radio networks and ASCAP that would have more immediate effects on Glenn and the orchestra.

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A Nightingale Sang

Mickey McMickle, Charles Frankhauser, Zeke Zarchy, 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); Jack Lathrop (g,vcl); Trigger Alpert (b); Maurice Purtill (d); Ray Eberle, Marion Hutton, The Four Modernaires {Hal Dickinson, Chuck Goldstein, Bill Conway, Ralph Brewster} (vcl); Bill Finegan; Jerry Gray (arr).

RCA Victor Studios, New York – October 11, 1940, 1:45 PM-4:55 PM

056479-1      Make Believe Ballroom Time (Mods vcl, JG arr)   Bluebird 10913

056479-2     Make Believe Ballroom Time (Mods vcl, JG arr)       RCA Victor EPA-5035

056480-1     You’ve Got Me This Way (MH vcl, JG arr)       Bluebird 10906

056481-1      A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square (RE vcl, BF arr)    Bluebird 10931

056481-2      A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square (RE vcl, BF arr)   RCA Victor PR-125

056482-1      I’d Know You Anywhere (RE vcl, BF arr)       HMV 45 EP 7EG-8224

056482-2      I’d Know You Anywhere (RE vcl, BF arr)       Bluebird 10906


Happiness is a season at the Café Rouge! That thought likely went through the minds of the Glenn Miller musicians when they settled in for a three-month residency at The Hotel Pennsylvania, as they had done the preceding winter. Traveling on the road may be exciting, with the accolades of fans ringing in their ears every night, but having a chance to relax, get the laundry done and eat regularly had its charms, too.

The band’s only record session in October 1940 also had its charms. The story behind the first number waxed, MAKE BELIEVE BALLROOM TIME, is an interesting one. WNEW Radio in New York City initiated one of the first regular “disc jockey” programs with Martin Block’s Make-Believe Ballroom in 1935. Since so much live music was available on the air, few though that listeners would take to a program of recorded music. Also, the record companies weren’t too keen on having their discs played on the air for free. They preferred customers to buy the record or pay for jukebox plays.

Glenn & Martin Block at the WNEW microphone. In the background are Clyde Hurley, Moe Purtill, Rollie Bundock & Willie Schwartz.

Glenn & Martin Block at the WNEW microphone. In the background are Clyde Hurley, Moe Purtill, Rollie Bundock & Willie Schwartz.

Block’s show was a huge and instant success and his relaxed, laid-back speaking style was a novelty in an age of stentorian announcers. In 1936, Charlie Barnet’s new band recorded MAKE BELIEVE BALLROOM, by the popular black songwriting duo of Paul Denniker and Andy Razaf. The vocal was handled by the “Barnet Modern-Aires,” and was designed to be used as an on-air theme. With vocals at the beginning and end, the lengthy instrumental mid-section provided space for Block’s announcements.

Strangely, this recording was not specially made for Martin Block’s personal use, but was issued by RCA-Bluebird as a regular commercial release, so home collectors had the ability to recreate the popular program at home, if they so desired.

By 1940, apparently it was felt that a more up-to-date theme recording was needed, so Glenn (at his own expense!) agreed to produce a replacement. This time, Martin wisely cut himself in for a share of the song royalties, by collaborating on the lyrics with Harold Green and Mickey Stoner (who had written FAITHFUL TO YOU, which Glenn had waxed).   The Four Modernaires, by this time, veterans of the Paul Whiteman band, returned to add a bit of continuity to the new recording. This momentary collaboration with Miller would eventually reap big rewards for the Mods.

The Modernaires' autographs, from January 1940, when they were still with Paul Whiteman.

The Modernaires’ autographs, from January 1940, when they were still with Paul Whiteman.

The new song was as catchy as the first one, and Jerry Gray crafted a bouncy arrangement featuring the singing foursome and solos by Johnny Best and Tex Beneke.  Newly arrived, bassist Trigger Alpert brings an extrovert personality to his instrument, boosting the rhythm section immeasurably. The alternate take, first issued on an EP in the late 50s, likely by mistake, has noticeable differences in the solos and some rare clinkers by the band.

No clinkers are to be heard on A NIGHTINGALE SANG IN BERKELEY SQUARE, an all-time Miller classic and his first recording to allude, though glancingly, to World War II, then entering its second year in Europe. Offering a nostalgic look back to peacetime London, it was written by British songwriters Eric Maschwitz (aka Holt Marvell) and Manning Sherwin. Featured in the West End revue, New Faces, the song became a hit in England before repeating its success in the States.


Bill Finegan outdid himself with this exquisite arrangement. Willie Schwartz trills the introduction like a songbird and Ray Eberle enters, offering one of his most assured vocals. Tex Beneke is as smooth as butter and Ray and Willie’s clarinet return for a dynamic finish. Perfection from beginning to end! It’s also one of Glenn’s longest 78s, clocking in at three minutes and thirty-five seconds. The alternate take, first released on a compilation LP set in 1961, is almost indistinguishable from the master take.

The other two selections, though not reaching the heights of NIGHTINGALE, were goodies.   YOU’VE GOT ME THIS WAY and I’D KNOW YOU ANYWHERE originated in the Kay Kyser film, You’ll Find Out, which is best known today for the one-time teaming of horror stars Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff and Peter Lorre. In 1940, however, the hugely popular Kay Kyser band brought in the movie admission shekels.

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Kyser, reportedly the only band whose financial success made Glenn jealous, was then shifting from a corny style to a smoother, more swing-oriented sound. Kay made nine films with his orchestra, more than any other Swing Era group. He always got the best songwriters to work on his pictures – You’ll Find Out boasted a fine score by Johnny Mercer and Jimmy McHugh.

YOU’VE GOT ME THIS WAY is full of typically Mercerian wordplay. Harry Babbitt sings it smoothly with Kyser, the Pied Pipers try to be overly hip on the Tommy Dorsey rendition and our Marion Hutton chirps it charmingly with Miller. Ernie Caceres can be heard again anchoring the sax section on baritone, a welcome addition to an increasing number of arrangements. At only two minutes and twenty seconds, Jerry Gray’s score could have benefited from an extra chorus with some solos.

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The film’s love ballad, I’D KNOW YOU ANYWHERE, gets the distinctive Miller mid-tempo ballad treatment. Arranger Bill Finegan wrote a nice brass modulation to Eberle’s vocal, which finds the singer in a cheerfully eager mood. Tommy Dorsey’s record is taken at an even faster tempo, with Frank Sinatra in typically efficient mode. Ray’s more callow approach seems to suit the song a little better, though Ginny Simms also did a great rendition with Kyser.

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Though Glenn and the band were now stationed in the New York area, an entire month would go by before the band’s next record date. They would cut more show and movie songs, plus another swipe at the wide open range!

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Falling Leaves

Mickey McMickle, Charles Frankhauser, Zeke Zarchy, 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); Jack Lathrop (g,vcl); Tony Carlson (b); Maurice Purtill (d); Ray Eberle, Marion Hutton (vcl); Bill Finegan (arr).

RCA Victor Studios, New York – September 3, 1940, 11:00 AM-5:00 PM

055579-1      Yesterthoughts (RE vcl, BF arr)       Bluebird 10893

055580-1      Falling Leaves            Bluebird 10876

055581-1      Shadows on the Sand (RE vcl)        Bluebird 10900

055582-1      Goodbye, Little Darlin’, Goodbye (RE vcl)   Bluebird 10931


RCA Victor Studios, New York – September 12, 1940, 9:00 AM-1:30 PM

056106-1      Five O’Clock Whistle (MH & band vcl, BF arr)       Bluebird 10900

056107-1      Beat Me Daddy, Eight to the Bar (JL vcl)    Bluebird 10876

056107-2      Beat Me Daddy, Eight to the Bar (JL vcl)    first issued on LP

056108-1      Ring Telephone, Ring (RE vcl)         Bluebird 11042 (gold label)

056108-2      Ring Telephone, Ring (RE vcl)         Bluebird 11042 (silver label)

Once again, a road tour interrupted Glenn Miller’s recording schedule. They didn’t go too far, though – some dates in Pennsylvania and Boston, two engagements at the Steel Pier in Atlantic City (including Labor Day weekend) and – wonder of wonders! A three-day vacation, from August 23-26.

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Back in the studio on September 3rd, the band sounds refreshed and relaxed on an all-ballad session. As it turns out, all the songs were written by musicians who had crossed Glenn’s path before.

Though he had been dead for 16 years, composer Victor Herbert contributed the first song, YESTERTHOUGHTS. Actually written as a piano piece in 1900, lyricist Stanley Adams now added words, as Al Dubin had done in 1939 for Herbert’s INDIAN SUMMER. The previous song was an enormous hit; YESTERTHOUGHTS not so much, but it drew respectable attention. Raymond Scott and Jimmy Dorsey also waxed it, but the Miller recording got the most jukebox plays.

Bill Finegan arranged a beautiful introduction, followed by a richly scored chorus, played by the reeds and Glenn, with his horn tightly muted. Ray Eberle enters and does well by the lyric, which is not up to the level of INDIAN SUMMER. It would have played better as an instrumental, which was the case for the next tune.

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FALLING LEAVES was a big success for its composer, pianist Frankie Carle, then featured with Horace Heidt’s band. Carle had given Glenn a huge hit with SUNRISE SERENADE and this new composition made for one of Miller’s most memorable renditions. It’s a beauty of a theme, starting with an arresting out-of tempo intro that suggests a clutch of leaves swiftly gliding to the ground. The reeds joyously sing the melody and then Tex Beneke uncorks a lovely half-chorus solo. Sadly, the arranger isn’t credited in any of the discographies.


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Another arresting introduction leads into SHADOWS ON THE SAND, a mournful tale of love betrayed, well, nearly so, by another deceased composer, Will Grosz. Grosz had published IN AN OLD DUTCH GARDEN in 1939, which Glenn recorded. Stanley Adams wrote these words too, as he had for YESTERTHOUGHTS. Apparently Adams liked to work with collaborators who wouldn’t talk back! Eberle handles the song slowly and with feeling. By comparison, Frank Sinatra sounds rather blasé on the competing Tommy Dorsey version.

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It’s back to cow country for the last number, GOODBYE, LITTLE DARLIN’ GOODBYE. Cowboy star Gene Autry is credited with this one, along with popular 1920s singer Johnny Marvin, who likely wrote the whole thing. Marvin was a longtime pal of Autry’s and crafted songs for dozens of Autry westerns. Ray handles this sad-saddle ballad smoothly and quite wistfully.

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Glenn and the boys then played a week’s engagement at the RKO Keith Theater in Boston, then swung back to New York for more records. This time, Ray shared the microphone with two other familiar voices.

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Bill Finegan’s FIVE O’CLOCK WHISTLE chart brings Marion Hutton front-and center and showcases that new “Lunceford lope” feel that the band was employing occasionally. It’s a groovy, hep number, written by neophyte songwriters Josef (later Joseph) Myrow, Kim Gannon and Gene Irwin. Myrow and Gannon would have many hits to come, including others for Miller – MOONLIGHT COCKTAIL and ALWAYS IN MY HEART. WHISTLE was also recorded by Duke Ellington, Erskine Hawkins, Count Basie (as a marvelous Lester Young feature) and Ella Fitzgerald. Marion is a bit more polite than Ivie Anderson and Ella, but the Miller version holds its own against such formidable competition. Ernie Caceres’ rollicking baritone sax anchors the reeds and Beneke’s tenor solo is a winner.

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The next song is a distinct letdown, for Glenn, that is. BEAT ME DADDY, EIGHT TO THE BAR was a huge hit for the Will Bradley band (as an epic, uptempo two-sided 78) and the Andrews Sisters. Glenn’s conception is a decided runner-up. The catchy theme originated with drummer Ray McKinley of the Bradley ensemble and was expanded into a full-fledged song by Don Raye and Hughie Prince. (On the published song sheet, McKinley used his wife’s name, Eleanore Sheehy, for some reason).

Raye and Prince parlayed the number into a franchise of boogie-woogie- flavored blockbusters – BOOGIE WOOGIE BUGLE BOY, BOUNCE ME BROTHER WITH A SOLID FOUR, RHUMBOOGIE, ROCK-A-BYE THE BOOGIE. COW COW BOOGIE and SCRUB ME MAMA WITH A BOOGIE BEAT.

Chummy MacGregor liked to play in boogie style, so it’s natural he would lead off and conclude the Miller version. Jack Lathrop sings the number rather blandly and this slowed-down arrangement generates little heat, except for Ernie Caceres’ piercing clarinet solo.

Ray Eberle makes his sole appearance for this session on RING TELEPHONE, RING, an oddly affecting ballad by Peter Tinturin and Buck Ram, whose names have appeared here before (as writers of TWILIGHT INTERLUDE and BOOG-IT). Beneke plays one of his loveliest melody choruses, and Ray sings the somber lyrics in an appealingly yearning fashion. The song did not achieve popularity, but someone must have remembered it, as it was revived and recorded again in 1947 by Kay Kyser with Harry Babbitt.  This record also holds the distinction of being one of the very few Miller numbers where two different takes of the song were issued on 78.

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Once more, a month would go by before the next recording date. The Miller band would play more East Coast engagements, before finally settling in on October for another fall/winter New York residency at the Hotel Pennsylvania’s Café Rouge.

Some new faces would appear on the bandstand for the October 11th session at RCA Victor!

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A Handful of Stars

Same personnel as June 13th.

RCA Victor Studios, New York – August 8, 1940, 11:15 AM-3:15 PM

05501-1         The Call of the Canyon (RE vcl, BF arr)    Bluebird 10845

05502-1         Our Love Affair (RE vcl)                              Bluebird 10845

05503-1         Crosstown (JL vcl)                                        Bluebird 10832

05504-1         What’s Your Story, Morning Glory? (TB vcl)   Bluebird 10832


RCA Victor Studios, New York – August 14, 1940, 11:00 PM-2:00 AM & 3:00-5:00 AM

055515-1      Fifth Avenue (MH & TB vcl, JG arr)    Bluebird 10860

055516-1      I Wouldn’t Take a Million (RE vcl)      Bluebird 10860

055517-1      A Handful of Stars (RE vcl, BF arr)     Bluebird 10893

055518-1      Old Black Joe (GM, ChM arr)              Bluebird 10913


Missouri, Kentucky, Iowa and then back to New York – the Glenn Miller band came off the road in early August 1940 for two recording sessions after nearly two months without a new disc being waxed. Song-wise, we first head out west again for THE CALL OF THE CANYON, with cowboy Ray in the saddle. Billy Hill, writer of so many Western hits, crafted this one for Gene Autry, who featured it in Melody Ranch, a 1940 Republic musical.

gmmelodyranchAutry’s Republic movies were usually pretty cheap endeavors, but this one got a budget boost, along with co-stars Jimmy Durante and Ann Miller, both somewhat out of sync with the rural setting. The film was a hit, and gave its name to Autry’s radio series and his later movie studio.

gmcalcanyonGlenn’s recording boasts an attractive Bill Finegan arrangement and a lovely opening solo by Tex Beneke. Ray sounds a bit strained and less effective than Frank Sinatra on the Tommy Dorsey rendition. The Miller chart is more imaginative than Dorsey’s, so you pays your money and you takes your choice!

OUR LOVE AFFAIR is another movie song, from the overblown Mickey Rooney-Judy Garland blockbuster, Strike Up The Band. The film costars bandleader Paul Whiteman as himself; Whiteman actually mentions Glenn in the dialogue, referring to Miller as one of the newer bands!

gm Strike Up the Band_01MGM’s all-around music guru Roger Edens wrote it, with lyrics by Arthur Freed (of SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN fame). Freed was then transitioning from songwriter to film producer and would soon lead the Freed Unit at the studio, turning out some of the finest film musicals of the next two decades.

gm our love affairIt’s a sweet little song, handled well by Glenn and Ray, who sounds much happier than on the preceding track. In the film, the song acts as a lead-in to a sappy (and endless) sequence with real pieces of fruit dressed as members of a miniature symphony orchestra – no kidding!

CROSSTOWN is a forgettable novelty number, which brings Jack Lathrop back to the microphone.   Composer Nat Simon struck it big with POINCIANA and with his collaborators James Cavanaugh and John Redmond had also written THE GAUCHO SERENADE, recorded by Glenn earlier in the year.

gmcrosstownNow something really special, WHAT’S YOUR STORY, MORNING GLORY?, composed by pianist-arranger Mary Lou Williams (of the Andy Kirk band) and trumpeter Paul Webster (of the Jimmie Lunceford band). Versatile lyricist Jack Lawrence crafted a lyric to fit the meandering, bluesy melody and he sang it on the premiere recording by Andy Kirk in 1938. It sat around until mid-1940, when apparently Webster promoted an instrumental recording by the Lunceford band.

A few months later, it got to Glenn, who waxed it here with Tex Beneke on the vocal. The unfortunately uncredited arranger takes a fresh approach, giving the band a groovy “Lunceford lope,” with solos by Beneke and Johnny Best, along with Tex’s appealingly plaintive voice.

gm morning gloryyPost-Swing Era, the song was deservedly resurrected by Ella Fitzgerald, Anita O’ Day and Julie London, among others.

Back to movie songs again for the August 14th session, this time from 20th Century Fox and superstar Shirley Temple’s last film there. Young People had Shirley as a 12-year-old vaudeville veteran, who, along with adoptive parents Jack Oakie and Charlotte Greenwood, leaves show business for life in a small midwestern town. The stuffy townspeople turn up their collective noses to these “show folk,” in extremely nasty ways, it must be added, until a local disaster allows the newcomers to show their worth. Personally, I would have told the smug residents to buzz off and headed back to Broadway on the first train, but that’s not how these films worked.

gm YoungPeopleThe picture was not too successful and Fox, seeing the handwriting on the wall as Shirley was reaching the awkward age, unceremoniously dumped her. The movie holds up well today, with fine performances all around and a superlative song score by veterans Harry Warren and Mack Gordon, teamed here for the first time. They would go on to write a batch of sensational songs for Fox musicals, including the scores for Glenn’s two films and the Oscar-winner, YOU’LL NEVER KNOW.

gm take a millionUnfortunately, neither of the Young People songs is handled especially well by the Miller vocalists. This might be due to the fact that this session was held in the middle of the night, between 11 PM and 5 AM! Both Marion and Ray sound pretty pooped on FIFTH AVENUE and I WOULDN’T TAKE A MILLION. Also, the Marion-Tex jive dialogue routine was starting to wear out its welcome and this turned out to be the last record that featured it.

Ray literally runs out of voice on the line, “the twinkle in your eyes” and the band sounds pretty enervated, too. An hour-long break was taken midway in the proceedings and this may have recharged the guys, as the next tune, A HANDFUL OF STARS, is an all-around winner.  Versatile Jack Lawrence also wrote these lyrics, to Ted Shapiro’s melody.  Few music aficionados are aware that this standard song came from an MGM B-musical, Hullabaloo, which reteamed Wizard of Oz co-stars Frank Morgan and Billie Burke.

gm handfulA new, more “mature” sound on Miller ballad arrangements started developing with THE NEARNESS OF YOU and now is heard on A HANDFUL OF STARS. Credit is due to arranger Bill Finegan, who wrote both. It’s a richer, slower, more thoughtful approach, providing a sympathetic frame for Ray Eberle’s vocals. A more congenial tempo and subtler backing now replace the relentless pumping rhythm of MOON LOVE and OH, YOU CRAZY MOON.

On his Chesterfield show, Glenn had a regular feature titled, “From the Album of Musical Favorites.” These included such ancient melodies as GOIN’ HOME, FLOW GENTLY SWEET AFTON, I’LL TAKE YOU HOME AGAIN KATHLEEN and Stephen Foster’s JEANNIE WITH THE LIGHT BROWN HAIR and OLD BLACK JOE. Only the last of these was recorded by Victor, almost as an afterthought at the end of the August 14th date.

Jointly arranged by Glenn and pianist Chummy MacGregor (like their DANNY BOY effort), the chart might have been around since the early days of the band. It’s a simple one-chorus performance of the theme, with MacGregor’s piano tinkling sweetly throughout.

Having these vintage public domain numbers in the band book would soon come in handy, as the American Society of Composers and Publishers (ASCAP), was starting to rumble with dissatisfaction over radio royalties paid for performances of songs they controlled. Before too long, nearly all post-World War I pop music would be off-limits for airplay, affecting everyone from Kate Smith to Duke Ellington to Glenn Miller.