1888 — Irving Berlin born

Born Israel Isidore Baline, the composer better known as Irving Berlin was 101 years old when he died. His family came to America in 1893, fleeing the anti-Jewish pogroms of Russia. They settled on the Lower East Side of New York City, where the family got involved in music and Irving’s talents as a musician first came to light.

Over the course of his life, he wrote more than 1800 songs, which included the scores for 19 Broadway shows and 18 Hollywood films, including songs such as “White Christmas” and “There’s No Business Like Show Business” and such classic musicals as “Annie Get Your Gun”. His music was nominated for Academy Awards on eight separate occasions, but he never won one.

It doesn’t seem to have bothered him much, although he did retire from songwriting in the Sixties and spent the rest of his life in relative obscurity in his beloved New York City.

Referenced in:

Green Onions — The Blues Brothers

1904 — Glenn Miller born

Born in Clarinda, Iowa, Glenn Miller grew up wanting to be a musician. When he was 11, he finally saved enough money to buy himself a trombone, and joined the town orchestra of Grant City, Missouri (to which his parents had moved that year). Miller became interested in a then-new style of music – the style he would later become famous for – and in 1918, formed his first band.

He played in many bands over the next two decades, slowly rising to become one of the best known bandleaders, musicians and composers of his time. Among his best known songs were such classics as “Pennsylvania 6-5000”, “Moonlight Serenade” and “Chattanooga Choo Choo”. To this day, he remains one of the most influential musicians of the twentieth century.

Referenced in:

Green Onions — The Blues Brothers

They’re on a mission from God

The world of the Blues Brothers presents an interesting challenge to the agnostic, at least as a thought experiment.

As a great fan of the movie, I have long stated that I would cheerfully attend any church that was as much fun to go to as the Triple Rock Baptist Church. And let’s face it, you probably would too – a free James Brown performance once a week (or perhaps more often) is nothing to sneeze at. Continue reading