The 'Freedom Train's' Musical Side

Monday, 23 June 2014 09:05 AM Written by 

 Today's "The Digs" includes photos of the 1947 Pittsburgh stop of the Freedom Train. The backstory is available there, but there was a musical dimension to this effort as well.

The entertainment industry involved itself on a high level. America's eminent popular music composer Irving Berlin composed a song titled "Here Comes The Freedom Train" specifically for this effort. Capitol Records, in 1947 a five year old label whose stature was rising nationwide on a run of hit records, got into the act with an all-star recording. On September 12, 1947 in Hollywood, Peggy Lee, herself a rising vocal star, Johnny Mercer, the singer-lyricist who co-founded Capitol, swing clarinetist-bandleader Benny Goodman (who discovered Peggy a few years earlier), singer Margaret Whiting, the Pied Pipers vocal group and the Paul Weston Orchestra joined forces to record it this very swinging number.

 Bing Crosby also recorded the song with the Andrews Sisters (and Vic Schoen's Orchestra) for their label: Decca.  The color films here were taken during a San Jose, California stop in 1948.

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Personally, I think the Capitol version swings a bit more...

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