Ignored, Maligned, and Forgotten Music

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Pennsylvania 6-5000 - Glenn Miller

Legbamel Not-Pop

Before Jenny could be reached at 867-5309, before 634-5789 became famous as the number for Soulsville, USA, there was Glenn Miller’s seminal telephone number song, Pennsylvania 6-5000. While all three scored hits in their respective genres, the last remains my favorite.

You trivia buffs will appreciate knowing that the number was that of the Hotel Pennsylvania in New York City, at which the band and many others of the day stayed. For me, this proves that great musicians can take inspiration from the most trivial of subjects (though the musicians in this case weren't Glenn Miller and his Orchestra but Jerry Gray and Carl Sigman). Alternatively, you could point out that the lack of lyrics means that the composers could have substituted any phrase that fit the beat of the song.

While that may be true, I couldn’t think of eight syllables that better suited the song. I tried “applesauce and fat back bacon” and “pencils, pens, and staple pullers” but neither really flowed. That may be because I know the song so well or it may just be that the words and music work so well together that the original combination was a stroke of genius.

I challenge you all to come up with an eight-beat phrase that fits into Pennsylvania 6-5000 better than the phone number. Get creative and shout along with the song! Then let me know what you tried and whether you think you’ve found a better fit. Note: “Pennsylvania Pittsburgh Steelers” doesn’t count, although perhaps the team should consider this as a theme song.

2 Responses so far.

  1. Keyara says:

    Awesome post! This is my first time visiting your blog, but definitely not the last. I smiled really hard at "great musicians can take inspiration from the most trivial of subjects" This is so true. One of my teachers who is also a composer wrote a song based on a visit to 7-eleven and the sound the door made as he walked in. What a great service you provide witht this blog bringing underappreciated music to a new audience! Great blog!

  2. legbamel says:

    Thanks! That's a great story. People really do get inspiration from the strangest places.

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