Swing Time

glenn-miller-and-his-orchestra-make-believe-ballroom-time-his-masters-voice

By Marilyn Zuckerman

For LW whose father would wake her, her sisters and brother
to swing music on Sunday mornings

1.

The Make Believe Ballroom

A Saturday night in 1941
and I was a sixteen year-old girl,
alone,
listening to Martin Block,
host of the Make Believe Ballroom
radio show, from Meadowbrook, NJ.
As the theme song,
“It’s Make Believe Ballroom Time,” played
I could see the brass section,
clarinets, trombones and saxophones
rise to the ceiling,
shimmering in the lights
as the platform rose up
revealing the band,
hear the wail of trumpets
as the singer,
Frank Sinatra or Dick Haymes
crooned songs drowning in sentiment
—all those war ballads
filled with yearning for when
The Boys Come Home Again.
While I danced alone,
I saw others
slow dancing
under the dazzle of revolving lights,
her head tucked under his chin,
they inch closer,
barely moving
as Sinatra,
with a catch in his voice, sings
“We’ll Meet Again.”

2.

Mary Alice and I
drinking cokes,
smoking our first cigarette
at Lambs Soda Fountain
across from our all-girls school,
gossiping about
schoolmates engaged to servicemen
while listening to Frankie sing,
“I’ll Never Smile Again.”
But deep in my heart
I wanted to be Anita O’Day
or Peggy Lee
draped across the piano,
my voice a low growl,
as I sing
We’ll meet again,
Don’t know where,
Don’t know when….

· · ·

Anita O'Day

Anita O’Day

Swing time

Adolescence in the 40’s meant one thing to the young men going off to war, while for the young women it was an era of waiting, of often going dateless on Saturday night, especially if you attended an all-girls school, as I did.

For many, The Make Believe Ballroom was a restorative filled with songs redolent with
loneliness and hopes for the future. A partial list of these songs includes, “We’ll Meet Again,” When the Lights Go On Again (All Over the World),” and swing music was the sweet thread that ran through through these longings. From Benny Goodman to Glenn Miller or Harry James with his skinny tenor Frank Sinatra singing his heart out, there was dancing in the aisles or sitting home alone and sighing.

http://marilynzuckermanpoet.com

Martin_block_stan_kenton_wnewedited

Stan Kenton & Martin Block at WNEW New York

Editor’s Note:

Hello, world! For a trip down memory lane and a quick listen to some of the music Marilyn references in her work above, check out the following links (clicking will take you off the PNA Village blog website):

“It’s Make believe Ballroom Time” performed by the Glenn Miller Orchestra
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DYQofQAQ3eE

1988 CBS Sunday “Make Believe Ballroom” Story WNEW 1130 New York
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dRV37DK1UC4

Vera Lynn sings “When the Lights Go On Again (All Over the World)”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vzlFaY0s_QI

Frank Sinatra sings “We’ll Meet Again”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x7q1r0LUXFI

Frank Sinatra sings “I’ll Never Smile Again”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pMaLvaPKPOY

Dick Haymes & Helen Forrest sing “It Had to Be You”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WW6Jd7zVpxM

Anita O’Day: The Life of a Jazz Singer (Documentary)
http://anitaodaydoc.com/

Peggy Lee & the Benny Goodman Orchestra: “Why Don’t You Do Right”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4zRwze8_SGk

Frank Sinatra & the Harry James Band “All Or Nothing At All”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u7klm1GS3v8

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4 thoughts on “Swing Time

  1. Thanks for Swing Time, Marilyn! How evocative — being a lover of swing from the next generation, it is fascinating to think more about historical context and moving to imagine what this music meant to a young woman at that time. I have started on that list of links, a great addition!

  2. Sometimes I wish I was born 20 years early. Because the swing era had the music I love the best. Thanks for the wonderful reminder!!! Curt
    What a beautiful poem about the great swing big bands and thanks for the you tube attachments also!!!.Sally

  3. With my interest piqued about Make Believe Ballroom, I just went to Wikipedia and read more about Martin Block and the illusion he created. Thanks for creating your “time tunnel” poem. I enjoyed the visit!

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