There are two kinds of people in the world: Those who think that Glenn Miller’s 1941 song “Chattanooga Choo-Choo” absolutely rocks, and those who don’t.
I think that the song absolutely rocks, which explains why I don’t know much about pop singer Taylor Swift.
By the way, the linked video of “Chattanooga Choo-Choo” is from the 1941 movie “Sun Valley Serenade.” The singers with Miller’s band are Tex Beneke and the Modernaires. Also in the video is Milton Berle, a popular comedian of that era.
“Chattanooga Choo-Choo” became the top-rated song in America on December 7, 1941. If you went to school after 1990, that date probably means nothing to you, but it was the date of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor that brought America into World War II. By coincidence, Miller’s band had performed “Chattanooga Choo-Choo” the previous night on Miller’s radio program “Sunset Serenade.” That live performance was the best.
After America entered the war, Miller enlisted in the U.S. Army, which fought real Nazis instead of imaginary ones. Sadly, Miller’s plane went down over the English Channel on Christmas Eve, 1944. There were no survivors.
But back to Taylor Swift. She comes across as a pretty blonde who can carry a tune and isn’t a total head case like many of her peers. And she’s got $400 million in the bank. But she can’t seem to get a break.
First, the “woke” brigades screamed because she was staying out of politics. So she got political. Now, they scream because … well, it’s not too clear. She affirms the sacrament of abortion, she supports whatever LGBTQWERTY+ activists say they want at the moment, and she’s made the required ritual denunciations of The Devil Trump. What’s the problem now?
Apparently, Swift isn’t gay, so her recent gay-themed music video was “hijacking queerness.” And the woke suspect that her embrace of their political crusades is driven by concern for her career.
It reminds me of a scene from the Monty Python comedy film “The Life of Brian.” Brian meets an ex-leper whose illness was miraculously cured by Jesus. The leper complains that Jesus took away his livelihood as a beggar:
Brian: “There’s no pleasing some people.”
Ex-leper: “That’s just what Jesus said.”
Indeed. Taylor Swift has learned it.
Check out my book Why Sane People Believe Crazy Things: How Belief Can Help or Hurt Social Peace. Kirkus Reviews called it an “impressively nuanced analysis.”
Chattanooga Choo Choo absolutely rocks. Although it was not the first million-selling record, it was the first time a gold record was created to recognize the milestone. I figure there have been gold CDs, but is it possible to make a gold download?
Even in the 1930s, a politically lopsided era if there ever was one, the prevailing side in the arts never demanded that those who disagreed lose their place at the table. Republicans from Bob Hope to Jimmy Stewart to Lionel Hampton were free to make great art for everyone without being publicly shamed.
I suspect that the reason for artists’ and musicians’ relative freedom in the 1930s was less that leftists lacked intent than that they lacked power. Where they could get away with it, they did persecute, ostracize, and de-platform dissidents. I’ve been reading ex-Communist Eugene Lyons’s 1941 book about the 1930s, and he wrote:
In Hollywood until recently, there was a secret club called “Friends of Abe,” showbiz professionals who were pro-American but didn’t want to be blacklisted. The biggest change since the 1930s has been that the left uses technology to deploy its armies of useful idiots.