Truly bizarre music

The time was 1941 – the United States was staying out of the war in Europe. At home, the NAB was waging war on ASCAP, creating BMI to wrestle away control of musicians so radio controlled what they were paid. Established musicians refused to sign with BMI. Protest marches were held, unions grew stronger. Only fringe musicians signed with BMI and radio stations agreed to only play BMI licensed songs.

Glenn Miller had a #1 jazz hit during this period. It was a light hearted version of the Volga River Boatman’s song (referenced in the Caspian Sea post). It’s roughly the equivalent if Muzak has a version of Ave Maria

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7 Responses to Truly bizarre music

  1. Linda S. says:

    I have several old 78 records of Glenn Miller and many others of that era. Love them! Not bizarre at all… 🙂

    • Fred Stiening says:

      Bizarre from a Russian perspective 😉

      The song long predates the Russian Revolution. I think it was on a page next to the Erie Canal song – “low bridge, everybody down..” I’m thinking the point was about the similarity of our experiences – the difference being barges on the Volga River were pulled along by enslaved humans, while the Erie Canal used donkeys or horses while the humans partied up on the roof

    • Fred Stiening says:

      Probably worth pointing out the Volga Boat Song is public domain and there are no words in the Glenn Miller recording – that meant ASCAP could not demand control over his work.

      This tension continues to this day. The radio industry believes to this day that music would not exist if it wasn’t for radio. RCA and CBS both acquired companies that sold records long before anyone had heard of radio

  2. briand75 says:

    An era of great music and quite wonderful performances. I was enlightened by my father-in-law who went to a few Tommy Dorsey and Glenn Miller shows in his time. I am marginally aware of the union struggles of the period. I see it as the genre of the WWII period in history.

    Volga Boatmen always reminds me of the Erie Canal (where I grew up) and my memories go to Tennessee Ernie Ford and his rendition of the classic “Erie Canal”.

  3. Parrott says:

    Load 16 tons and what do you get ?

    Do they stream music in Russia ? I wonder if people over tehre listen to our streams if they know english .


    • Fred Stiening says:

      I had a second cousin who was working in Iran when the Shah got sick and was deposed – she was teaching English. Her friends helped to sneak her out of the country. Since Iran was an US ally up to that point, their military has ancient American weapons, unlike Iraq which was in the Soviet orbit. How much, if any, residual feelings for “the good old days” is hard to judge. My guess is most Persians that are not extreme Muslims found ways to leave. One of the people in my 8 unit building is from Iran, but we haven’t talked. Sam won’t let me.

    • Another day older and deeper in debt.

      That’s what you get, Parrott!

      I have a little online alternative rock music station via and Russian IP addresses have connected to the stream from time to time over the last 11 years.

      To tie that in further with this post, Live365 pays ASCAP, BMI and SESAC some pennies on my behalf.

      Loved the Glenn Miller rendition of Volga Boatmen!

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