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‘Jukebox Saturday Night:’ Glenn Miller’s Last Hit as a Civilian

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Capt. Glenn MillerOn December 5, 1942, Glenn Miller & His Orchestra’s ‘Juke Box Saturday Night’ broke into the Billboard Top Ten, debuting at #9 on the charts.  A lively retelling of a wild party at a soda and ice cream fountain, ‘Juke Box Saturday Night’ celebrates revelry with lyrics that playfully reference the other artists that composed the party’s soundtrack including entire solos and choruses lifted directly from Harry James and the Ink Spots.  While successful, enjoyable and sufficiently light-hearted, ‘Juke Box Saturday Night’ is more notable as the last Top Ten hit issued by Glenn Miller as a civilian performer.

Near the peak of his worldwide popularity in 1942 and at 38 years old, Miller decided to hang up hit-making and enlist in the war effort in September of 1942.  After being transferred from the Army to the Army Air Corps, the newly-minted Captain Glenn Miller was assigned to Maxwell Field in Montgomery, Alabama in early December.  There Capt. Miller began to audition recruits from across the United States for a modernized military band to deliver ‘real, live American music’ to troops serving overseas.  The germ of this idea was to quickly epxand into the Army Air Force Band which, during the 14 months of its existence, played in 11 countries overseas, performed over 500 radio broadcasts, traveled to over 300 personal appearances and took part in over 900 morale-boosting drives for soldiers in garrison areas and combat zones.

Said Miller on the importance of musical expression:  ‘America means freedom and there’s no expression of freedom quite so sincere as music.

Click below to hear the original 1942 hit recording of Glenn Miller’s ‘Juke Box Saturday Night’

Post by Collin Makamson, Red Ball Express Coordinator at The National WWII Museum

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