Big Band Theme Songs


Big Band Theme Songs on Swing City Radio

In the 1930's and 40's, the Big Bands were quickly identified by their Theme song.  This was Swing Music's interpretation of branding. When you heard "Moonlight Serenade" you would immediately think of Glenn Miller.  The same went for "Let's Dance" (Benny Goodman), "One o’Clock Jump" (Count Basie), "Leap Frog" (Les Brown) and "Contrasts" (Jimmy Dorsey) to just name a handful.

Theme songs were played to start off a live performance and many times they were played again to signify that their performance was coming to an end.  Just listen to many of the radio remotes we play on our "Live at 5" show and you will see what I mean.

Some bands have had multiple themes songs associated with them. Over time as the band developed and their playlist matured, the band leader would switch gears and choose another song.  This was the case for Charlie Barnet who used "Make Believe Ballroom” for his WNEW broadcasts from 1936 to 1937, "Cherokee" from 1938 to 1945 and "Redskin Rhumba" from 1945 to when he retired.

Glenn Miller has recordings of both "Take The 'A' Train" and "One o'Clock Jump" that are fantastic!  But, when I listen to those versions all I can think about is The Duke and The Count.  I guess you can say that Swing Music's interpretation of branding really did it's number on me.  :)

The video below was put together by Barry Papiernik.  It's a great sampling of Big Band theme songs and very well done.  Check out his Youtube Channel when you get a chance.  He posts some fantastic stuff on there.

Swing City Radio: Playing Your Big Band and Swing Music Favorites from the 1930's, 40's and Today! - Big Band Radio Station Broadcasting Online from King of Prussia, PA.

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