“One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and, if it were possible, to speak a few reasonable words.” ― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship
Boy, the way Glenn Miller played
songs that made the hit parade
Guys like me we had it made
Those were the days – Charles Strouse, Lee Adams, “Those Were the Days” from All in the Family
When I was younger – say, like when I was in my senior year of high school and, after that, a journalism major at what was then called Miami-Dade Community College’s South Campus – I used to joke that I was born a generation too late.
I was, and still am, a man very much of my time…for the most part. I’m liberally-minded when it comes to social issues; I believe in social justice, gender equality, civil rights for all, and I detest any ideology that is based on Bronze Age folkways and mores. I dislike authoritarianism – be it from the far left or the far right – and anything that smacks of hyper-nationalism, white supremacy, and religious extremism.
I also love technology. I’ve owned and used computers since the mid-1980s, and I tend to embrace new audio-visual formats as early as my limited finances allow. In my lifetime, I’ve owned music on vinyl, eight-track and audiocassette tapes, compact disc, and – reluctantly – digital albums. Luddite, I am not.
But when it comes to music and my musical tastes, I am not so avant-garde.
“A band ought to have a sound all of its own. It ought to have a personality.” – Glenn Miller (March 1, 1904 – December 15, 1944)
As I wrote in yesterday’s post – On Music: But…But…I LIKE Oldies! – my musical tastes are more often than not out of step with the latest au currant styles that are heard on mass media nowadays. It was true when I was a kid in the Sixties, Seventies, and early Eighties, and it is true now in the third decade of the 21st Century.
Even as a child growing up on two continents – I was born in Miami and moved with my recently-widowed mother to Bogota, Colombia when I was three years old, then moved back to Miami at age nine in the late spring of 1972 – I had an affinity for classical music, show tunes, film scores, and pop standards. I also loved ballads and “sentimental” songs that I heard on the radio, my mom’s stereo, or on TV. But as far as trendy music went, I was usually resistant to most of the dominant genres – either they were too loud, harsh to my ears, or just generally unappealing due to overexposure.
See, while most of my contemporaries – especially my high school classmates – waxed rhapsodically about disco’s Donna Summer, The Bee Gees, Chic, and KC and the Sunshine Band or hard rock bands such as Led Zeppelin, The Clash, the Ramones, Black Sabbath, and Van Halen, I tended to listen to classical music, movie themes, songs from Broadway shows (especially after I joined my high school’s chorus), and – on rare occasions – pop artists like John Denver or Billy Joel.
In the 2020s, I am still a man who feels out of step with what is “hot” or “trendy” in today’s musical scene. I like “songs that Glenn Miller played” more than anything by Eminem, Taylor Swift, or Beyonce.
Take, for instance, my latest acquisition for my CD library, The Essential Glenn Miller.
Released in 2005 by Sony Legacy as part of its Essential series of compilation albums of great artists in various genres, this is a 2-CD set with 38 songs played by Glenn Miller and the Glenn Miller Orchestra in the Big Band era.
This musical period coincided with the Second World War as well as my parents’ adolescence, so Glenn Miller would have been part of the soundtrack of my mom and dad’s coming-of-age period. And because songs like In the Mood, American Patrol, and – especially – Moonlight Serenade are often used in scores for movies or documentaries about World War II, I’ve heard them so often that they’re part of the soundtrack of my life, too.
Like I said, I’m an odd duck, a Glenn Miller fan in an age where many of my contemporaries are still dancing to Stayin’ Alive, Disco Inferno or Dancing Queen.
I will probably review The Essential Glenn Miller in a future post; for the time being, though, here are my 10 favorite songs by Glenn Miller and the Glenn Miller Band:
- In the Mood
- Moonlight Serenade
- American Patrol
- (I’ve Got a Gal in) Kalamazoo
- Little Brown Jug
- Serenade in Blue
- Blueberry Hill
- Over the Rainbow
- The Nearness of You
- Song of the Volga Boatmen
 Sadly, when I was in high school, I didn’t know too many John Denver fans, and because I only had one of his albums (John Denver’s Greatest Hits) on eight-track tape, I wasn’t much of a fan. It wasn’t until 2017 that I paid more attention to his music.