History of the Songs

Here are some short notes regarding the history of some of the songs we play.   (Much of this historical content comes from www.wikipedia.com with our sincere thanks.)

American Patrol — Made famous by Glenn Miller’s 1941 recording, but was written in 1885 for the piano.   The ‘Patrol’ style of song represents a marching army approaching, passing by and disappearing into the distance.   There are numerous ‘Patrol’ songs — Arab Patrol, Welsh Patrol, more. 

It was arranged by trumpet player, Billy May, who joined the Glenn Miller Band in 1940.  When a boy, it was suggested by his doctor to start playing the tuba because it would help his asthma.  He loved playing music so much that he later learned the trumpet.  Little did he know he would become a famous trumpet player, composer, and arranger. 

Besame Mucho — A nice FOX TROT with a bit of a Latin twist, BESAME MUCHO is a Spanish song written in 1940 by Mexican, Consuelo Velazquez before her sixteenth birthday.  This romantic ballad was soon recorded by artists around the globe, making it an international hit.  The phrase “besame mucho” can be translated into English as “kiss me much”.  According to Valazquez, she wrote this song even though she had never been kissed yet at the time.  She was inspired by the aria “Quejas, o la Maja y el Ruisenor” from the Spanish 1916 opera, ‘Goyescas by Enrique Granados.’  Velazquez, who is said to have begun playing the piano at the age of four, started her professional career as a classical music concert pianist, but later became a singer and recording artist.  This composition has been used on the soundtrack of numerous films including:  Great Expectations; Moon River Over Parador; Arizona Dream; Moscow Does Not Believe In Tears; The Naked Gun; & Mona Lisa Smile.

Caravan — Composed by Juan Tizol in 1937.   Made famous by Duke Ellington.   Over the years, Duke and his orchestra would record this song over 350 different times.    The song was recently used in the movie Ocean’s 13 with George Cluney and Brad Pitt.

Days of Wine and Roses — Written by Henry Mancini in 1962.    Has been recorded by many famous singers including Andy Williams and Perry Como.   Andy’s version made it to #26 on the Billboard Hot 100 Songs of 1963.

Elmer’s Tune
Did you know?  Glenn Miller’s number one hit ”Elmer’s Tune” in 1941 was written by a mortician. Young Elmer Albrecht worked next door to Chicago’s Aragon Ballroom and received permission to use one of their pianos on his lunch hours. Bandleader Dick Jurgens liked one of the melodies he heard Albrecht play and arranged it for his orchestra. Lyricist Sammy Gallop added words. The rest is history.

How Insensitive / Insensatez
Antonio Carlos Jobim – his version 1963.  Loosely based on Frédéric Chopin’s Prelude No.4 with lyrics by Vinícius de Moraes. The English lyrics were written by Norman Gimbel.

In the Mood – #1 Big Band Era Smash Hit by Glenn Miller.    But the song originated with Wingy Manone and was called the Tar Paper Stomp.   Unfortunately Wingy did not write the song down and send it to be copyrighted.    So Glenn was free to take the song, arrange it for the Big Band and make it famous.   Glenn did pay Wingy a royalty anyway (partly to avoid any legal contests).   Listen for the saxophone duel in the middle of the song. 

I Wish You Love — 1957 — originally a French song recored by Keely Smith.   Has been recorded by over 60 other performers including Bette Davis, Bette Midler, Ella Fitzgerald, Engleburt Humperdink.

La Cucaracha — Spanish for ‘the cockroach’.    The song was popular during the Mexican Revolution 1910 – 1920.

Mack the Knife — Made popular by Bobby Darin in 1959.   But the song was originally a German tune from 1928 and was used in the German musical drama “Three Penny Opera”.

My Cherie Amour – made famous by Stevie Wonder in 1969 — the same year we landed on the moon, over 40 years ago.

Shiney Stockings — Composer and saxophonist, Frank Foster, at age 26, began playing with the Count Basie Orchestra in 1953.   Contributing many originals to the band, Shiney Stockings is his best known composition.

Sweetheart of Sigma Chi
Often called the most beloved and popular of college fraternity songs. Written in 1911 by Byron D. Stokes (Albion, Class of 1913) and F. Dudleigh Vernor (Albion Class of 1914).  It was the Sigma Chi  Fraternity itself that inspired the song. 

Take the A Train — Music was written by Billy Strahorn in 1940.   Became the Signature Tune for Duke Ellington.    The history is that Duke offered Billy a job.   Billy had to meet Duke at his appartment in NYC, but didn’t know the way.   Duke’s directions to him had as its first line … “Take the A Train”.   Duke and Billy were to have a long, long successful collaboration.    The A Train is a subway line in NYC that goes from Brooklyn to Harlem to Manhattan.    Near the end of the song, listen for the train whistle!

Tea for Two
Song from the 1925 musical No, No, Nanette with music by Vincent Youmans and lyrics by Irving Caesar. It is a duet sung by Nanette and Tom (Louise Groody and Jack Barker) in Act II as they imagine their future.  Covered by Alvin and the Chipmunks on their 1965 album The Chipmunks Sing with Children.

There’ll Be Some Changes Made — 1921 — Has been used in movies and TV shows including Slaugherhouse 5, Get Smart, All that Jazz.

Tuxedo Junction — Made famous by Glenn Miller in 1939.   It sold over 115,000 copies in the first week it was released.  It was one of the top 10 songs in 1939.   It’s a song about a Blues club located near a streetcar crossing at Tuxedo Park in the small town of Ensley, Alabama.  This building still stands today as a testament to the musical heritage of that era



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