Whenever I hear war era swing I always hear just behind my ears the low rumble of a B-17G‘s four radial Wright R-1820-97 Cyclones or the high pitched keening roar of a diving P-51D‘s 12 cylinder Rolls Royce Merlin V-1650-7, or the old nemesis of every bomber crew, that characteristic dull throb of an an ME-109 G-10’s DB 605 as it comes in from the sun. While we do not forget these were—at the time—state of the art weapons of war, for us who came long after these aircraft carry a certain romance. I strongly recommend listening to them as well as the music. Their sleek lines, the subtle upward pitch of their wings bristling with guns, their flight characteristics, the kill tally (sortee count for the bombers) and nose art, not to mention the men who flew them, for us are things of legend.
The same goes for the music of the period, and for mine I have chosen Tuxedo Junction by Glenn Miller and his orchestra. These songs were written for—and in many cases—by the soldiers and pilots who spent their youth in battle, because it was a rough time to be alive, considering all that was going at the same time. From the war in the Pacific to the war in Europe, the Soviet Union finding its might, the Holocaust, to the invention of nuclear weapons, it must’ve seemed like the world was ending. It is no wonder there is a specific whimsy to be found in the music of the time. It was a welcome escape.
When I hear Tuxedo Junction I imagine a smoke filled hangar with a radio tucked into a corner, and a pilot and mechanic with cigarettes hanging out of their lips casually patching bullet holes as if just a few hours before he wasn’t being shot at.
That’s good enough for government work.