Glenn Miller’s Over There

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America means freedom and there’s no expression of freedom quite so sincere as music.

Glenn Miller

Something for the weekend.  Glenn Miller and the Army Air Corps Band give a very lively version of James M. Cohan’s Over There.  The rendition of the song is made poignant by our knowledge that Major Glenn Miller would never come back from Over There, dying on December 15, 1944 when the plane he was flying in was lost over the English Channel.  Miller, too old to be drafted at 38, was rich and famous as a band leader in 1942 and could have sat out the War in safety and comfort without reproach.  However, Miller was above all a patriot.  He first tried to join the Navy and was turned down.  He then joined the Army Air Corps, commissioned as a Captain, and was placed in command of the Army Air Corps Band.  His goal was to present music that the troops would enjoy, frequently to the dismay of senior officers who usually had little love for Big Band era music.  Miller and his Band helped raise the morale of American troops and civilians alike, not an easy task in a War as bloody as World War II, especially among Army Air Corps troops in Europe with their high casualties.  May his soul rest in peace.

Here is a rendition of Over There in James Cagney’s immortal tribute to George M. Cohan, Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942):

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  1. Good stuff — thanks!

    When Fred Flintstone and I were in Viet-Nam, AFVN (Armed Forces Viet-Nam) radio played a good mix of music throughout the day. I do wonder if our young folks overseas (in yet another undeclared war — Congress, where are you?) have access to a variety of music, or if it has defaulted only to C & W and rock.

  2. Thank you for a walk down memory lane with Miller and Cagney. No PC with Cagney, I’m sure. God rest their souls.

  3. Love, love, love, love James Cagney. It was watching him receive the American Film Institute Lifetime award on tv back in the 70s when I was a kid that turned me on to old movies, and his in particular. I own most of the films these clips came from, but this reminds me that I haven’t yet replaced my vhs Yankee Doodle Dandy. Will do so today.

  4. Daria, I don’t think Cagney ever gave a bad performance. What a consumate pro. Stay tuned tomorrow for more on the film One, Two, Three. Here is a clip of one of Cagney’s best performances:

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