Glenn Miller’s iconic “In the Mood” is not normally thought of as a song that would make you get choked up. However, on Saturday night, it did just that.
After flailing around for a Christmas gift for Little NH, I happened on tickets to see the Glenn Miller Orchestra in Prague. The show was Little NH’s first concert ever and she reminded me of that fact during the entire week that lead up to the show. She also recounted in great detail how she had opened my gift on Christmas Eve and was confused. She reminded me how I started up my turntable and the first notes of the aforementioned song crackled out of the speakers. She said she was excited when I explained to her that we’d be going to see this show and that this music was popular before rock and roll was even invented. “Before rock and roll?” she intoned. “Wow.”
The Glenn Miller Orchestra occupies a pretty large place in my heart and my family history. Before I was born, my grandparents Reon and Helen owned the Turnpike Ballroom in Lincoln, Nebraska. As a kid, I used to love to venture into the musty corners of the attic and pull out the boxes of autographed pictures, business correspondence and mementos of the fabled ballroom. I first discovered Miller’s music when I played trombone in the 7th grade band. I remember my teacher telling my row of pubescent trombone players to play the “Bah Bah’s!” with much more feeling. In fact, I think of that every time I hear the song. So imagine how excited I was when I found an autographed shot of Glenn Miller among the pictures in my attic.
In the years that followed I asked my grandma about the Turnpike and Glenn Miller’s visits there every chance I got. The result of those conversations became the basis for my high school “term paper” and my enthusiasm and fascination for the subject matter garnered me my one-and-only A+ of my academic career. Do what you love, they say.
So the happiness I felt by being able to share a bit of this family history with my oldest daughter was enough to make “In the Mood” a tearjerker. As we sat in our seats at the show, Little NH bounced in her seat along with the music. I half expected her to stand up and dance in place. The music was a mixture of Miller’s hits and other staples from the Big Band era. At one point in the show, Little NH leaned back and whispered in my ear, “Boy, Daddy. I hope they are going to play Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree with Anybody Else But Me soon!” It’s her “second favorite” song. This is from a kid that has been listening to Miller for about two weeks. I guess the affinity runs in the family. She also knows my second favorite Miller staple is “Little Brown Jug”.
Of course, my favorite is the one that brings back all of these memories.
As we walked home from the show I told Little NH, “You know, for the rest of my life I’ll think of you whenever I hear a Glenn Miller tune.” “Even when I get old?” she asked? Blinking hard in the cold winter air I replied, “Especially then, sweetie. Especially then.”