Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Glenn Miller

(There’ll Be Bluebirds Over) The White Cliffs of Dover

First recorded by The Bunny Berigan Orchestra (1941).
Hit versions Kay Kyser & His Orchestra (US #1 1941), by The Glenn Miller Orchestra (US #6 1942), Vera Lynn (1942), The Checkers (1952), The Righteous Brothers (UK #21 1966).

From the wiki: “So ‘British’ was its diction, imagery and tone, many Americans thought ‘(There’ll Be Bluebirds Over) The White Cliffs of Dover’ was written by an Englishman. Instead, it was composed in 1941 by a couple of Americans, Walter Kent (allegedly based on ‘Over the Rainbow‘) with lyrics by Nat Burton, inspired by an American poem written by Alice Duer Miller and Walter Kent titled ‘The White Cliffs’.

“First introduced on the radio by Kate Smith, the first recorded release of the song was by the Bunny Berigan Orchestra in late 1941. Kay Kyser & His Orchestra topped the Hit Parade with their recording, while Glenn Miller’s recording also charted in the Top-10. There was, for a time in early 1942, fourteen different recordings of ‘White Cliffs of Dover’ vying for public attention. But, the most-famous arrangement was recorded in England by Vera Lynn in 1942, with Mantovani’s orchestra, for Decca Records, becoming one of Lynn’s best-loved recordings and among the most popular World War II tunes, serving to uplift civilian morale at a time when Great Britain ‘stood alone’ against Nazi Germany.

“Symbolically, the White Cliffs of Dover are a guardian and protector of the English, a symbol of England’s strength against potential enemies and a reassuring sight to returning travelers. The lyrics refer to the RAF and RCAF fighter pilots (in their blue uniforms) as ‘bluebirds’ (although bluebirds are not native to Europe, and are not migratory) and expresses confidence that they would prevail. Notable phrases include ‘Thumbs Up!’, which was an RAF and RCAF term for permission to go, and ‘flying in those angry skies’ where the air war between Great Britain and Germany was taking place. The lyrics also looked towards a time when the war would be over and peace would rule over the iconic white cliffs of Dover, Britain’s symbolic border with the European mainland.

“The Checkers’ 1953 R&B treatment of ‘White Cliffs of Dover’ was a Top-5 hit in Los Angeles but did not chart nationally. In 1966 the Righteous Brothers reached #21 in the UK with their cover version of ‘White Cliffs of Dover’.”

When You Wish Upon a Star

First performed by Cliff Edwards (1940).
Hit versions by Cliff Edwards (US #1 1940), Glenn Miller & His Orchestra (US #1 1940), Guy Lombardo & His Royal Canadians (US #4 1940), Dion & the Belmonts (US #30 1960), Linda Ronstadt (MOR #32 1986).
Also recorded by Mary J. Blige, Barbra Streisand & Chris Botti (2013).

From the wiki: “‘When You Wish Upon a Star’ was written by Leigh Harline and Ned Washington for Walt Disney’s 1940 animated adaptation of Pinocchio. The song won the 1940 Academy Award for Best Original Song, and was also the first Disney song to win an Oscar. It has since become the representative song of The Walt Disney Company (e.g., the ships of the Disney Cruise Line use the first seven notes of the song’s melody as their horn signals).

“The original version was sung by Cliff Edwards (‘Singin’ in the Rain‘) in the character of Jiminy Cricket, and is heard over the opening credits and in the final scene of Pinocchio. Edwards’ original recording for ‘Pinocchio’ won the 1940 Academy Award for Best Song. The American Film Institute ranked ‘When You Wish Upon A Star’ seventh in their 100 Greatest Songs in Film History, the highest-ranked Disney animated film song.

The Woodpecker Song

First recorded (as “Reginella campagnola”) by Carlo Buti (1939).
Also recorded by Kate Smith (1940).
Hit versions by The Andrews Sisters (US #7 1940), Glenn Miller & His Orchestra (US #1 1940).

From the wiki: “‘The Woodpecker Song’ (‘Reginella campagnola’) was originally an Italian song, written by Eldo Di Lazzaro, and first recorded by Carlo Buti in 1939. English lyrics were written by Harold Adamson and the song became a US hit in 1940, recorded by Glenn Miller and His Orchestra, The Andrews Sisters, and Kate Smith the same year. The Glenn Miller recording featured Marion Hutton on vocals and reached #1 on the Billboard charts in 1940.”

Fools Rush In

First recorded by Bob Crosby with Marion Mann (1940).
Hit versions by Tommy Dorsey & His Orchestra (US #17 1940), Tony Martin (US #16 1940), The Glenn Miller Orchestra (US #1 1940), Billy Eckstine (R&B #6 1949), Brook Benton (US #24/R&B #5 1960), Etta James (US #87 1962), Ricky Nelson (US #12/R&B #24/UK #12 1963).

From the wiki: “‘Fools Rush In’ was written in 1940 by lyricist Johnny Mercer with music by Rube Bloom. First recorded by the Bob Crosby orchestra with Marion Mann, major hits at the time of introduction were recorded by Tony Martin, Glenn Miller with Ray Eberle, and Tommy Dorsey with Frank Sinatra. It was also recorded by Billy Eckstine. In the 1960s, ‘Fools Rush In’ saw a resurgence of popularity, resulting in charted remakes in 1960-61 (Brook Benton), 1962 (Etta James), and 1963 (Ricky Nelson).”

Perfidia

First recorded by Lupita Palomera with Lira de San Cristobal (1937).
Hit versions by Xavier Cugat & His Waldorf-Astoria Orchestra (US #3 1941), The Four Aces (US #7 1952), The Ventures (US #15/UK #4 1960).
Also recorded by The Glenn Miller Orchestra (1941), Linda Ronstadt (1992).

From the wiki: “‘Perfidia’ (Spanish for ‘perfidy’, as in faithlessness, treachery or betrayal) was written by Alberto Domínguez about love and betrayal, and first recorded (in Spanish) in 1937 by Lupita Palomera. Other hit versions were recorded by The Four Aces (1952) and The Ventures (1960).

“Linda Ronstadt’s 1992 recording of the song in English with a Spanish introduction was used in the 1992 movie The Mambo Kings. Ronstadt also recorded the song in Spanish for her 1992 album Frenesí. At the 9th Lo Nuestro Awards, in 1993, her español version received a nomination for Tropical Song of the Year.

Song of the Volga Boatman

First recorded (as “Ey, Ukhnem!”) by G.A. Kazachenko (1903).
Hit version Glenn Miller & His Orchestra (1938 |US#1 1941).

[Above performance recorded by Feodor Ivanovich Chaliapin, in 1922.]

From the wiki: “The ‘Song of the Volga Boatmen’ (known in Russian as Эй, ухнем! [Ey, ukhnem!, ‘yo, heave-ho!’], after the refrain) is a well-known traditional Russian song collected by Mily Balakirev, leader of ‘The Five’ who attempted to keep Russian art clean from European influences, and first published in his book of folk songs in 1866 while also being dramatically depicted by painter Ilya Repin in 1873. First recorded in 1903, it was popularized by Feodor Chaliapin in the 1920s with his recorded rendition. Glenn Miller’s jazz arrangement took the song to #1 in the US charts in 1941.”

In the Mood

First recorded by Edgar Hayes & His Orchestra (1938).
Based on “Tar Paper Stomp” by Wingy Manone (1930).
Hit versions by The Glenn Miller Orchestra (US #1 1939), Ernie Fields & His Orchestra (US #4/R&B #7/UK #14 1959), Ray Stevens (US #40/C&W #39/UK #31 1977).

From the wiki: “‘In The Mood’ was arranged by Joe Garland and Andy Razaf based on a pre-existing melody: The main theme previously appeared under the title of ‘Tar Paper Stomp’ credited to jazz trumpeter/bandleader Wingy Manone. Manone recorded ‘Tar Paper Stomp’ in 1930 but, because the song was not formally registered for copyright, meant that the melody could be appropriated by any musician with a good ear. A story says that after ‘In the Mood’ became a hit, Manone was paid by Miller and his record company not to contest the copyright.

The original recording of ‘In The Mood’ was made by Edgar Hayes & His Orchestra in 1938, with songwriter Garland participating. Popular thought is that the melody had already become popular with Harlem bands (e.g. at the Savoy Ballroom) before being written down by Garland. Before offering it to Glenn Miller, Garland sold the tune to Artie Shaw, who could not record it because the original arrangement was too long.

Jingle Bells

First recorded (as “One Horse Open Sleigh”) by The Edison Male Quartette (1898).
Popular versions by The King Cole Trio (1938), Glenn Miller & His Orchestra (US #5 1941), Bing Crosby & The Andrews Sisters (1943), Primo Scala & The Keynotes (US #10 1948), Les Paul (US #10 1951), The Hysterics (UK #44 1981).

From the wiki: “James Lord Pierpont’s 1857 composition ‘Jingle Bells’ became one of the most performed and most recognizable secular holiday songs ever written, not only in the United States, but around the world. In recognition of this achievement, James Lord Pierpont was voted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Pierpont wrote it in the 1850s in Medford, Massachusetts as ;The One-horse Open Sleigh’ for the choir of the First Unitarian Church, where his father was pastor. The choir introduced the new song during a Thanksgiving Day service; there was not a single reference to Christmas in the original lyrics. But, due to the public’s enthusiasm, the performance was renewed during that same year’s Christmas celebration. In 1857 the song was copyrighted as ‘The One Horse Open Sleigh’. Two years later it was first published as ‘Jingle Bells’ in Savannah, GA, where Pierpont’s brother, John, was pastor. His Unitarian Universalist Church is locally known as ‘The Jingle Bells Church’.

(Somewhere) Over the Rainbow

First released by The Larry Clinton Orchestra & Bea Wain (US #10 1939).
Other hit versions by The Glenn Miller Orchestra (US #1 1939), Judy Garland (US #5 1939), Bob Crosby & His Orchestra (US #2 1939), The Demensions (US #16 1960), Patti LaBelle & The Bluebells (R&B #20 1966), Eva Cassidy (UK #42 2001), Israel Kamakawiwo’ole (US #22 2002).

From the wiki: “‘Over the Rainbow’ (often referred to as ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’) is a classic Academy Award-winning ballad, with music by Harold Arlen (‘Stormy Weather‘, ‘Blues in the Night‘) and lyrics by E.Y. Harburg. Arlen came up with the melody while sitting in his car in front of the original Schwab’s Drug Store in Hollywood. Harburg hated it at first because he thought the tempo was too slow. After Arlen consulted with his friend, Ira Gershwin, he sped up the tempo and Harburg came up with the lyrics. A lot of effort went into the first line. Ideas that didn’t make the cut included ‘I’ll go over the rainbow’ and ‘Someday over the rainbow’.

Elmer’s Tune

First recorded by Dick Jurgens & His Orchestra (1941).
Hit version by The Glenn Miller Orchestra (US #1 1941).

From the wiki: “The story goes that ‘Elmer’s Tune’ was named for it’s creator, Elmer Albrecht, an undertaker’s assistant, who used to practice the song on the piano at the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago, Illinois. His mortuary job was nearby and so he made a deal with The Aragon Ballroom owner who let Elmer practice there every day or so. Bandleader, Dick Jurgens, would often hear Elmer practicing this melody and one day decided to help him finish his song. Dick Jurgens & His Orchestra completed the first recording of ‘Elmer’s Tune’ as an instrumental. Lyrics were later written by Sammy Gallop, at which time The Glenn Miller Orchestra recorded the number featuring Ray Eberle & The Modernaires. Miller’s recording stayed on the Hit Parade for seventeen consecutive weeks.”

American Patrol

First recorded by John Phillip Sousa’s Band (1901).
Hit version by Glenn Miller & His Orchestra (US #15 1941).

From the wiki: “‘American Patrol’ is a popular march written by Frank White (F.W.) Meacham in 1885, incorporating both original musical themes by Meacham and melodies from American patriotic songs of the era such as ‘Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean’ and ‘Dixie’. Jerry Gray arranged a swing version of the march for Glenn Miller’s orchestra in 1941. The ‘patrol’ format was popular in the second half of the 19th century, and other compositions bear titles such as ‘Turkish Patrol’, ‘Ethiopian Patrol’, ‘Owl’s Patrol’, ‘Welsh Patrol’ and ‘Arab Patrol’. The format was intended to represent a military band approaching, passing, and fading into the distance.”

A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square

First recorded by Ray Noble & His Orchestra (US #15 1940).
Other hit versions by Vera Lynn (1940), The Glenn Miller Orchestra (US #2 1940).

From the wiki: “‘A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square’ is a romantic British popular song written in 1939 with by Eric Maschwitz and Manning Sherwin, composed in the then-small French fishing village of Le Lavandou. The song had its first performance in the summer of 1939 in a local bar, where the melody was played on piano by Sherwin with the help of the resident saxophonist. Maschwitz sang the words while holding a glass of wine, but nobody seemed impressed.

Tuxedo Junction

Co-written and first recorded by The Erskine Hawkins Orchestra (US #7 1940).
Other hit version by Glenn Miller & His Orchestra (US #1 1940).
Also recorded by The Andrews Sisters (1940).

From the wiki: “‘Tuxedo Junction’ was co-written by Birmingham, Alabama, composer and band leader Erskine Hawkins, and saxophonist and arranger Bill Johnson. The song was first introduced by a Jazz orchestra led by Erskine Hawkins: the student Jazz orchestra made up of students at Alabama State University who, in 1934, traveled to New York City and became the Erskine Hawkins Orchestra, working also with the NBC Orchestra, the Lucky Millinder Orchestra, the Duke Ellington Orchestra, Louis Armstrong and others.

At Last

First commercial recording by Glenn Miller & His Orchestra (US #9 1942).
Other hit versions by Ray Anthony (US #2 1952), Etta James (US #27/R&B #2 1961), Celine Dion (US #16 2002).

From the wiki: “Unreleased recordings of the song were made in 1941 by Glenn Miller for possible inclusion in the film Sun Valley Serenade. An orchestral version of the song without lyrics appeared first in the movie in 1941. (‘At Last’ originally was going to be a major song on the soundtrack, sung by Pat Friday with actor John Payne.

“However the song was mostly deleted from the release print.) Another recording was made and used extensively in the movie Orchestra Wives (1942), with vocals by Pat Friday and Ray Eberle. In 1942, a vocal version of ‘At Last,’ sung solo by Ray Eberle, was recorded for commercial release by Glenn Miller and His Orchestra in Chicago in May 1942 and first released as the B-side to ‘(I’ve Got a Gal In) Kalamazoo’.

Blueberry Hill

First performed by Gene Autry (1940 |recorded 1941).
First commercial release by The Sammy Kaye Orchestra (1940).
Hit versions by Glenn Miller & His Orchestra (US #1 1940), Louis Armstrong (US #29 1949), Fats Domino (US #2/R&B #1/UK #6 1956).

From the wiki: “‘Blueberry Hill’, written by Vincent Rose with lyrics by Larry Stock and Al Lewis, was first performed in 1940 but is best remembered for its 1950s Rock n’ Roll styling by Fats Domino. The song was recorded six times in 1940, after the original version was sung by Gene Autry in the 1940 movie The Singing Hill and was recorded to disc by Autry a year later, in 1941. The song is purportedly named after a ‘make-out’ spot in Taos, New Mexico.

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