Friday, 13 July 2012

Musical Interlude: Glenn Miller & His Orchestra - A String Of Pearls (1942)

Partly because I haven't done one of these in a while and partly because I don't want another seven days to slip by between posts, I thought it about time for another one of my desert island discs.

Frankly I had a bit of a job just selecting one Glenn Miller song (I very nearly went with my original plan for this post - Fletcher Henderson or 'Red' Nichols numbers - but as you'll see I've in fact selected four, plus my main choice, Miller tunes for this post so I'll save them for another time) as he and his band had so many hits between 1938 and Glenn's untimely death in 1944.  I could easily have picked one of his most famous arrangements - In The Mood or Moonlight Serenade for example - but as much as I like them all I've settled upon the 1942 classic A String Of Pearls.  To me it is one of the most complete examples of the Miller "sound" and an almost seamless composition.  In fact I rather like his more obscure recordings (like Sun Valley JumpSlow Freight, Sunrise Serenade or Boulder Buff, for instance, which I'm generously going to throw in to this post for you).

While it could be said that Glenn MIller's music has become so synonymous with the Second World War that it borders on cliché (what documentary doesn't feature a snippet of one of his songs to get the viewer into a wartime mood?!) I think it is a testament to the uniqueness and quality of his musicianship that it can still be fresh in the minds of people today (and not forgetting that actually Miller had nearly 4 years of [American] peacetime success before he formed The Army Air Force Band).

The sound of Glenn Miller & His Orchestra was, in fact,one of the first aspects of vintage that this blogger was exposed to, over 15 years ago (God that makes me feel old!).  The exact first when and where is lost to the mists of time - perhaps it was one of those war documentaries, perhaps it was helping out my nan at the local WRVS luncheon club where it was played constantly; I forget (I do vaguely remember picking up an original LP of the The Glenn Miller Story in a charity shop, since when my collection of Miller records has grown inordinately).  But along with Laurel & Hardy it set me on a path and that has led to this point and which continues to stretch into tantalisingly into the distance.  For that reason alone this music will always have a special place in my heart.


  1. This is a great post! Thank you I enjoyed it very much. Glenn Miller is actually my very first introduction into the vintage world too, I remember hearing Glenn Miller at my grandma's apartment as far back as to when I was 5 years old (I am 44 now), she told me all of the names of the songs and she would sing the words so I started singing along too. I got to where I knew all of the words. I also find the music of Glenn Miller very dear to my heart because of this.

  2. Ahhh, the one and only, wonderful Glenn Miller - thanks for that, brought a smile to my face :-)

  3. Lovely and informative post. You're so right, just hearing the music makes me think of that period, a true legend defining a generation's music.

  4. I love a bit of Glenn Miller. I mainly listen to Benny Goodman at work as he's perkier, but Glenn is my go-to when I want something smooth and reassuring. His stuff is great to wind down with.

  5. (And when my grandmother was dying in hospital, she was on morphine and everyone said she was unaware of things around her, but I took in a CD player and a CD of swing tunes, and she definitely had a reaction to the Glenn Miller ones, so somewhere his music reached her. It was nice to say goodbye to her with a song.)

  6. Glenn Miller is my favorite! I think in part to watching The Glenn Miller story when I was a little girl. I always wanted to learn to swing dance, but there was too much work to be done around our house and garden growing up for that sort of thing and now, a back injury will not allow. So, I am content with listening to the music and enjoying the opportunity to see other people dance to his timeless tunes. Thank you so much for this post! :)


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