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.

 

gm shadows

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.

gm goodbye sheet

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.

gm goodbye

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.

gm five o

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.

gm beat me

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.

gm sig

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!

gm 4goodbye

2 thoughts on “Falling Leaves

  1. Once again, thoughtful and enlightening comments. You always make me think about recordings l’m so familiar with and often make me see a new facet. Your time and efforts are greatly appreciated and your next posting eagerly awaited…

    Tom

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