Tag Archives: Glenn Miller

Song: “Embraceable You”

Ira wrote the words, George wrote the music, and music buyers everywhere wrote the checks. Uploaded by georgejgoodstadt.com.

This may be the ultimate example of a Gershwin song. With music by George (Great American Things, Feb. 24, 2010) and lyrics by Ira, “Embraceable You” is sophisticated, complex, and yet eminently singable.

The brothers wrote the song in 1928 for an operetta that never got published, so they pulled it out and used it in the musical Girl Crazy in 1930. Ginger Rogers sang it in the play, and it helped make her a star. Girl Crazy went on to be filmed three times, most notably in 1943 with Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney.

(By the way, how’s this for some unheralded star power – in the original orchestra for the Broadway show were unknown musicians Glenn Miller, Gene Krupa, Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey, and Jack Teagarden. Wow.)

Uploaded by muzieklijstjes.nl.

“Embraceable You” is one of the most frequently recorded Gershwin songs. The website jazzstandards.com ranks “Embraceable You” as the number 24 jazz standard of all time. Their highest recommendation goes to the Sarah Vaughn version, but I couldn’t find that in full on YouTube, so here’s Ella Fitzgerald with the Nelson Riddle orchestra. Hard to beat this combination…

Song: “At Last”

The definitive version of At Last was recorded by Etta James in 1960. Uploaded by media.avclub.com.

It’s the 1960 recording by Etta James that makes the list of Great American Things. The song itself has been around since 1941, when Mack Gordon and Harry Warren wrote it for the movie musical Orchestra Wives.

Uploaded by jango.com.

The song became a hit for Glenn Miller (Great American Things, August 27, 2009) in 1942 and Nat King Cole (Great American Things, November 2, 2009) did a great version in the fifties. It had become recognized as a standard, but then — oh, then Etta James included it on her debut album. And we had the definitive version.

Strangely, it never really made much of an impact on the Billboard Top 100, only making it to number 47. It did reach number 2 on the R&B chart, however. Though it’s been covered by dozens of artists ranging from Stevie Wonder to Cyndi Lauper, “At Last” will always be associated with Etta James. It’s her version that was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999…

Song: “Moonlight Serenade”

Moonlight Serenade quickly became Glenn Miller's theme song, and it's probably the most memorable song from the entire Big Band Era. Uploaded by yourradioshows.com.

“Moonlight Serenade” is not only one of the most beautiful songs of the Big Band Era, it’s one of the most beautiful in the history of American music. Written by Glenn Miller (Great American Things, August 27, 2009) and recorded by his orchestra, it was the number five song for the year 1939 on the Billboard chart.

Lyricist Mitchell Parish. Uploaded by whowroteem.com.

The song was recorded initially as an instrumental, but Mitchell Parish soon added lyrics that are less well known. Parish, by the way, may be a songwriter you’re not familiar with, but he wrote lyrics to such great songs as “Star Dust,” “Deep Purple,” “Sophisticated Lady,” and “Sleigh Ride.”

“Moonlight Serenade” became Glenn Miller’s theme song. He even used the name for his radio program that ran three times a week from 1939 to 1942.

It’s always fascinating to look at a classic song and see who’s recorded cover versions. As you may expect, lots of artists have recorded “Moonlight Serenade,” but these are some of the more unexpected: Los Indios Tabajaras (Brazilian guitar duo), Taco, The Rivieras (doo wop), Buddy Emmons (steel guitar), The Ventures, Bobby Vinton, and Chicago.

In 1991, Glenn Miller’s original version entered the Grammy Hall of Fame…