Gentlemanly Figureheads

Glenn Miller: True Gentleman, True American Hero

Evening gents, it’s Max from The Young Gentleman’s Guide here! Apologies for not putting up any posts last week, we decided to take a day off for Memorial Day. I was planning to put up a regular post on Friday, but the time just got away from me, with some old friends coming to visit. With that in mind, I will still put up the post I was planning for Friday, which actually pertains to Memorial Day. In honor of those who gave their lives defending the freedoms of the American people, I thought I would pay tribute to who I believe is one of the greatest American heroes in history: the bandleader Glenn Miller (1904-1944). For those who are unaware, Glenn Miller was one of the greatest bandleaders of the swing era. His music is said to be the bridge between the bridge between jazz and pop. One of the biggest things Miller is known for is forming the US Army Air Force Band in 1942. It was their job to spread morale and entertainment to the servicemen in the war effort during World War II. After being formed, they traveled throughout England and performed over 800 times, and they they made several appearances on the radio, broadcasting to soldiers all over the world. They were also planning to perform in Paris in 1944 after its liberation from the Nazis, but had to do so without Miller, as his plane disappeared over the English Channel on December 15. The band’s music in and of itself was also used as subtle counter-propaganda meant to denounce the spread of the fascist regime by Italy and Germany. As Miller stated himself, “America means freedom and there’s no expression of freedom quite so sincere as music.”

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This, to me, is what makes Miller one of the greatest heroes in American history, and here’s why. Imagine, if you will, that you’re an American soldier in the thick of World War II. You’ve had to travel halfway around the world to fight against the Axis Powers. You’ve had to leave your family and have seen several of your fellow soldiers die on the battlefield. If that were me, between missing home and having to witness such atrocities, I feel like my morale would be at a huge low. I feel like I wouldn’t have much motivation to keep going. Moving on, one night you post up to rest with your platoon, and one of your buddies decides to turn on the radio. You stumble across a broadcast of the Army Air Force Band, led by Glenn Miller, and hear such swing classics as “In The Mood”, “Moonlight Serenade”, and “Pennsylvania 6-5000”, all tunes that were synonymous with American culture at that time. Hearing such music that reminds you so much of home suddenly makes you realize why you’re in the war effort to begin with. It’s those ideals of freedom and liberty embodied in Miller’s music, that you’re fighting for. It also reminds you of your family back home, and also helps you realize that you’re fighting to defend your father, your mother, your brother, your sister, your fiancée, your wife, whoever it may be. It’s the same reason bands like the Rolling Stones and Black Sabbath are practically synonymous with the Vietnam War. That music was the equivalent to Glenn Miller’s music in World War II. It reminded them of home and gave them motivation to keep fighting. It is my firm belief that without the morale boost of Glenn Miller’s music, the Allies would have had a much harder time fighting back against the Axis Powers, and could have possibly lost the war. Speaking again from Miller, “We didn’t come here to set any fashions in music. We merely came to bring a much-needed touch of home to some lads who have been here a couple of years.”

In my honest opinion, Glenn Miller is just as much of an American hero, if not more so, than any soldier or strategist who fought on the ground. With his music being synonymous with America at the time, and its power to be such an incredible morale builder, Miller has certainly gone down as a courageous, dedicated,  honorable, yet underappreciated hero of America. If you’ve never heard his music, I cannot stress enough how much I encourage you to listen to it. Whether you feel the same effect that it had on the WWII soldiers or not, it’s undeniable how much this music shaped American culture during its time. His music is easy to come by as well, able to be found on iTunes, Spotify, and Pandora, or you can even find clips of it on YouTube. Tunes I would most recommend to start with are “In The Mood”, “Moonlight Serenade”, “Pennsylvania 6-5000”, “Chattanooga Choo-Choo”, and “String of Pearls.” In any case, thank you so much for reading today’s post from The Young Gentleman’s guide, and nothing would make me happier than if you shared this post with a friend, followed the blog, and checked out The Young Gentleman’s Guide on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. And on that note, this is Max from The Young Gentleman’s Guide, and I’ll see you next time!Glenn Miller Post 2.png

Gentlemanly Figureheads

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy: The Perfect Model for Gentlemen

Evening gents, it’s Max from The Young Gentleman’s Guide! Now, I might be a little biased about this, seeing as they’re my favorite band, but I’m serious, the nine (9) guys of Big Bad Voodoo Daddy can really serve as role models for any up and coming gentleman. Aside from their look with their suits and hats, the way they act on and offstage is enough for any young man to look up to. So today, I’m going to give you four (4) points that show how the musicians of BBVD are, indeed, perfect gentlemen!

1. There is no formal frontman

While it’s true that Big Bad Voodoo Daddy’s lead singer and guitar player, Scotty Morris, is the founder and “frontman” of the band, he does not hog all the attention. He acknowledges and directs the attention to the rest of the band throughout their entire performance. Whenever one of the other players performs a solo or plays a phenomenal riff, they take center stage for that solo of riff, and then go back to their place in the band. So while there seems to be a “frontman” onstage at all times, in reality, it’s all about the band and the music. No one person in the band hogs all the attention. In today’s day and age where modern pop stars are the total center of attention and give next to no attention to their backup band (without which, they could not even perform), it’s nice to see that every single person on stage is given credit where credit it is rightfully due.

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2. Most of them are family men

Now, I can’t pretend that I know every little thing about a parent, but I’m willing to say that being a parent is one of the manliest things a man can do! I takes a lot of strength and patience to raise a child. So think about this: the guys of Big Bad Voodoo Daddy are touring and performing up to 290 days a year! This includes holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries. Could you imagine doing that while also being a husband and father? That clearly takes 10 times that amount of strength and patience. I’ve even met some of the guys’ kids (and even played in a school band with one of them) and they say it’s not very different from having a regular parent. It just makes them all the more admirable, knowing that they perform all the time and are still going strong while still being husbands and raising families.

3. They genuinely care about their fans and supporters

One of the biggest things that bugs me the most about a lot of modern pop stars is that they make everything about them, and generally don’t acknowledge their fanbase (I refer you to the time when Justin Bieber spat on his fans while at his apartment). What really bugs me about it is that without their fans, musicians wouldn’t be able to do what they do, and this is what Big Bad Voodoo Daddy does so well. My sophomore year of high school, the Ventura Unified School District put together a big music and arts festival at my high school to showcase the wonderful art that can and has come out of my hometown of Ventura, California. Headlining the event was Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, as they themselves are from Ventura. While they could have easily booked a much bigger venue than a high school, even in Ventura, they still agreed and were excited to perform for the event. Why? Because they knew that their biggest fanbase was in Ventura, and genuinely care about the well-being of arts programs from their own hometown. But aside from that, they just care about their fans, holding special clinics for middle and high school music students, and they often stick around after their shows to autograph merchandise and interact with their audience. Be honest, how many musicians can you think of that actually do that? Sure, some may be around after their shows to sign autographs and all that, very few of them stick around to interact with their fans, take photos, or even answer questions like Big Bad Voodoo Daddy does. It just shows how much they appreciate their fans and how they wouldn’t be able to do what they do without them.

4. They only do it for love of the music

Coming from such humble beginnings, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy has made it abundantly clear what they care about from the perspective of being a band: the music. They don’t care about making a spectacle, they just care about playing great music for people to enjoy. While yes, they do dance and play around onstage and make their performance a spectacle, it’s not their main priority. It’s the integrity of their art form that matters the most to them. My definition of success is to do what what you do and love what you do. As gentlemen should, they do what they love for the service of the people.

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So there it is! Not only do they look the part, but the guys of Big Bad Voodoo Daddy act the part of what a perfect gentleman should be! Between being family men despite how often they’re performing away from home, caring about their fans, not one guy hogging all the onstage attention, and just simply loving what they do, I aspire to be as much of a gentleman as these guys (also to create such incredible swing music). In all seriousness, for those of you who haven’t heard any of their music, look them up. Most of their music is available in iTunes and Spotify, plus they have a new album coming out in June! Or if you have a chance to see them live, you absolutely should! I hope you enjoyed reading the post, and I would appreciate it if you shared it with a friend. Also be sure to follow The Young Gentleman’s Guide on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and read any past posts from the blog. And on that note, this is Max from The Young Gentleman’s Guide, and I’ll see you next time!