Elmer's Tune

Elmer's Tune 78rpm

The song "Elmer's Tune", was hit record for both Glenn Miller and Dick Jurgens in the early 1940's.  It's a bouncy little song that leaves the listener humming the melody hours later. (Well, that's how it works in my case. haha)  I've included a video of the song directly below so you can hear it for yourself, just in case you are unfamiliar with the song.  So let's look at the story behind this song.

Video of Glenn Miller's recording of "Elmer's Tune"

Origins of Elmer's Tune

A gentleman by the name of Elmer Albrecht penned this song in the early 1920's. Elmer was working at a funeral parlor in Chicago as an embalmer. That is where he worked out the original tune and melody. Luckily, for fans of the song, there was a piano located in the back of this parlor.

Over the years, still working as an embalmer, Albrecht would play this song in small night clubs around the Chicago area. He even offered the song to Ted Weems at one point but was turned down.  Then in 1941, he approached Dick Jurgens with the song.  Dick Jurgens' band was in the middle of a stint at Chicago's Aragon Ballroom.  At first, Jurgens also turned down the song, but Albrecht was persistent and Jurgens finally agreed to arrange the song for his orchestra.

After a short time, the band was set to perform the newly arranged song, but still didn't have a name for it.  Band members bickered over what the name should be. Jurgen's finally suggested the generic "Elmer's Tune" and the name stuck.

Recordings of the Song

In April of 1941, Jurgens and his Orchestra recorded an instrumental version of "Elmer's Tune" for the Okeh Label and it reached #8 in the charts.  This got the attention of Glenn Miller, who asked Jurgens if he could record a version of the song with lyrics.  Sammy Gallop was hired to write the lyrics. (The credits for the song from that point forward include Albrecht, Gallop and Jurgens.) Miller recorded his version in August of '41 and by December of that year the song had reached #1 on the Billboard Charts.

Glenn Miller's recording of the song was the most popular.  But many others recorded versions of the tune including Benny Goodman, The Andrews Sisters, Bob Crosby, Lawrence Welk, Blue Barron, Bert Ambrose and many more.  It still amazes me what you can learn when you poke around to learn the origins of a particular song.  I would have never imagined that this bouncy little diddy originated in the back room of a funeral parlor.  :)

Video of the Dick Jurgens recording of "Elmer's Tune"

You can hear different versions of 'Elmer's Tune" right here on Swing City Radio.

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.

Connect with Swing City Radio

Listen To The Weekly Podcast

Swing City Radio - Coffee Mug

Your Thoughts


Email *

Message *