Thursday, September 25, 2014

Rainy Day Musings: Big Band Music Class Tonight; The Glenn Miller Story

Glenn Miller, Band Leader
Rain!  In California
This morning when I went to let the dog out to do his business, I noticed the patio was all shiny.  The air smelled cool and fresh.  Then it dawned on me:  it is raining!

There isn't enough rain in this gentle precipitation to cure our drought, but it is nice to reminisce.  I love rain, passionate for all things pluvial.

Big Band Class
My second big band music class is tonight.  We will be practicing "Greensleeves" and "Pennsylvania 6-5000."  I have practiced all my songs faithfully, every day this week.  I should do okay.

"Greensleeves" is a traditional English folk song from the late 16th century.  The original lyrics are a bit strange, but new lyrics are often substituted.  The tune is also used as a Christmas song, and renamed "What Child Is This?"  I love Vince Guaraldi's version.

"Pennsylvania 6-5000" is a 1940's style telephone number, the number of the Pennsylvania Hotel in New York City, where Glenn Miller and many other bands performed.  It is a famous Glenn Miller hit song.  Hear the New Glenn Miller orchestra play it here.

The Glenn Miller Story
Glenn Miller, Officer,
U.S. Army
In 1954, James Stewart starred in the film "The Glenn Miller Story."  It's all about the life and career of Glenn Miller, trombonist, big band leader and music arranger extraordinaire.  You can watch this movie in its entirety on YouTube, for only 99 cents.  It's worth it.

During World War II, Glenn Miller was given a commission as a Captain in the U.S. Army (later promoted to Major), and applied his musical talents to army bands.  He organized his own swing band for entertaining troops at the front.  His band was scheduled to play for a Christmas radio program, broadcast from newly liberated Paris, France.  Miller decided to fly from England to France in advance of his band, to arrange quarters and other matters for the band.  On December 15, 1944, he boarded an army plane for the trip.  His plane disappeared over the English Channel in bad weather, and Miller was later listed as "missing in action."  His remains were never recovered.

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