If you’re old enough to remember World War II (or even if you’re not) you know that 1945 was significant in a lot of ways, mostly because it was the year the war ended. But there were a lot of other things going on too, including changes occurring in the musical world.(Break for nostalgic moment.)
I was pretty darn young in those days, but I still remember the stacks of old 78’s we had around the house. As time passed, many of those old records were broken or thrown away, but I remember one really unique use they were put to – at least in my family. I remember an Aunt who would take an old worn-out record and pass it over the kitchen stove to soften it, then bend it into a sort of cone shape. After it hardened, she would insert an artificial flower into it and hang the thing on the wall…kitschy but clever.
In the music business, the end of the war signified a time of transition. The big bands of the swing era were beginning to find it tougher to survive, with slowed record sales and flagging attendance at concerts, caused partially by post-war shortages in tires and gasoline, but also because savvy music lovers were beginning to move on to something new. Bebop groups and other kinds of smaller jazz combos were growing in popularity and taking fans away from the big bands.
This was also the era when band singers began to become bigger stars, often outshining the band itself in fame, and many began to record solo records and tour as headliners. Among the biggest was Johnny Mercer, who was not only a star as a singer, but also as a song-writer. In addition, he was a smart businessman, who got together some partners and founded Capitol Records.
Mercer often wrote songs for movies, and we’re posting a couple of his best. Both are sort of “novelty” tunes rather than anything too weighty, but you’ll find that it’s impossible to resist singing along with them. (And I’m pretty sure these songs were on a couple of those melted 78’s I mentioned earlier.)
First up is On The Atchison, Topeka And The Santa Fe, which was written for the Judy Garland movie, The Harvey Girls. We follow that with Ac-cent-tchu-ate The Positive, from the film Here Come The Waves. Both tunes are from Your Hit Parade -1945, one of the excellent Time-Life series.