The ‘B’ Side of ‘I’ve Got a Gal in Kalamazoo’ is a Song You Know
Glenn Miller's signature song put Kalamazoo on the music map. If you don't think you've ever heard the flip side of that 78 rpm single, think again.
"(I've Got a Gal in) Kalamazoo" was not only a #1 hit for a solid eight weeks, but it was also the best-selling record of 1942. Yes, this may be Glenn Miller's best-known song (especially in this part of the state), but it was far from his only hit. "In the Mood", "Chattanooga Choo Choo", "Pennsylvania 6-5000", "Little Brown Jug", and "Moonlight Serenade" make up a timeless songbook. In fact, Glenn Miller had 69 top-10 chart hits during his career- more than the Beatles or Elvis Presley. The other side of "I've Got a Gal in Kalamazoo" was a smash too.
If you've ever been to a wedding, you've heard "At Last." Etta James' definitive1961 version of this song was added to the Library of Congress's National Registry in 2008. Like Glenn Miller's "...Kalamazoo", there is a Michigan connection to Etta James recording "At Last." She was drawn to the song when her boyfriend was playing selections from his copy of his "Book of One Hundred Standards." That suitor was Harvey Fuqua, a recording artist in his own right with the Moonglows. Fuqua was also instrumental in the founding of Motown records. He was married to Berry Gordy's sister Gwen and played a key part in launching Marvin Gaye's career.
"At Last" was written not by Glenn Miller, but penned by Mack Gordon and Harry Warren for the film Orchestra Wives, the same movie they composed "(I've Got a Gal in) Kalamazoo" for. The original version didn't hit #1 like "...Gal..." did but didn't miss by much, charting at #2 in 1942 for Glenn Miller and his orchestra. Etta James' version soared to #2 on the R&B charts but stalled at #47 on the Billboard Hot 100. Instantly recognizable and an undeniable classic, "At Last" is the flip side of "(I've Got a Gal in Kalamazoo" that you have definitely heard before.
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