Glenn Miller composed at least twenty-five songs and instrumentals during his career. The twenty-five compositions are as follows:
1. Moonlight Serenade was composed by Glenn Miller in 1939 and released as a single that reached the Top Ten chart. Billboard listed the record as the no.5 record of 1939. Moonlight Serenade is one of the most recognizable songs of the 20th century and defined the Swing Era. Chicago, Bobby Vinton, Carly Simon, Barry Manilow, The Ventures, Gene Krupa, Count Basie, Frank Sinatra, and Ella Fitzgerald have recorded the Glenn Miller composition. In 1991, Glenn Miller's 1939 recording of Moonlight Serenade, RCA Bluebird B-10214-B, was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.
2. Annie's Cousin Fanny was written in 1934 when Miller was in the Dorsey Brothers band. This record was reportedly banned by radio stations because of its suggestive lyrics that used double entendre.
3. Dese Dem Dose was written when Miller was in the Dorsey band in 1935. Miller also performed the composition with the Ray Noble Orchestra which he was a member of. Glenn Miller appeared in the 1935 movie The Big Broadcast of 1936 as part of the Noble orchestra.
4. Solo Hop was written by Miller in 1935 when he started to record under his own name.
5. When Icky Morgan Plays the Organ was a humorous novelty song written for and recorded with the Clark Randall Orchestra in 1935.
6. Sold American was written in 1938 with pianist Chummy MacGregor.
7. Community Swing was written in 1937 by Glenn Miller.
8. Doin' the Jive was written with MacGregor in 1937.
9. Sometime was composed with Chummy MacGregor in 1939 and sung by Ray Eberle on radio broadcasts but was not released as a 78.
10. Introduction to a Waltz was written with Jerry Gray and Hal Dickinson in 1941 and performed on the radio several times for the Chesterfield radio program.
11. Boom Shot was composed by Glenn Miller with Billy May in 1942 for the 20th Century Fox movie Orchestra Wives. The Jack Million Band recorded Boom Shot on the album In the Mood for Glenn Miller, Volume 2.
12. 705, 7-0-5, or Seven-O-Five was written by Miller when he formed his Army Air Force Band during World War II and was performed on the I Sustain the Wings radio program on May 5, 1944.
13. I Sustain the Wings was written in 1943 as the theme of a radio program that Glenn Miller hosted from June, 1943 to June, 1944.
14. Room 1411 (Goin' to Town) was written with Benny Goodman in 1928 when Glenn Miller was in Benny Goodman's Boys, a band formed in Chicago. The record was released as a Brunswick 78 with Jungle Blues in 1928.
15. I Swung the Election was written for Jack Teagarden in 1939 who released it on Columbia as a 78 and as a V disc, No. 823.
16. I'm Headin' For California was written in 1944 with Artie Malvin.
17. Morning Mood was a trombone solo written in 1941.
18. After Tonight was written in 1939.
19. Flaming Sword of Liberation was written in 1944 and republished in 1951 as Wings on Parade.
20. The Technical Training Command was a theme for the I Sustain the Wings radio program written in 1943 with Chummy MacGregor and Sol Meyer.
21. Jinky was composed in 1933 when Glenn Miller worked with Smith Ballew. It is score #62 in the Glenn Miller musical score library.
22. Let's Give Them a Break was performed once in October, 1937 but was not recorded.
23. SHAEF Presents was written as a theme for the "American Band of the AEF" program which aired on the Allied Expeditionary Forces Programme (AEFP) radio network. It was not used. It was composed by Captain Glenn Miller and arranged by Sgt. Jerry Gray. There are no recordings of the score.
24. Chesterfield #1 was incidental music for commercial breaks written in 1941 for the "Chesterfield Moonlight Serenade" radio program. It was performed on 10 Chesterfield shows. The score number is 617. These broadcasts were recorded.
25. Chesterfield #2 or Fast One was incidental music performed twice on the Chesterfield radio show in 1941. Harold Dickinson of The Modernaires shares credit for the vocal part while Glenn Miller wrote the music. The broadcasts were recorded.
These are the twenty-five known compositions by Glenn Miller. Miller also contributed additional lyrics with Jack Teagarden to the song Basin Street Blues, written by Clarence Williams in 1928.
His major arrangements were Solo Hop, Jingle Bells with Bill Finegan, Moonlight Serenade, Doin' the Jive, Tuxedo Junction, and Danny Boy with John Chummy MacGregor.
Glenn Miller wrote music that was a combination of jazz, swing, popular, and classical, incorporating all of his musical influences. Community Swing and Doin' the Jive are more oriented towards swing while Dese Dem Dose and Room 1411 are more Dixieland or New Orleans-style jazz from the 1920s. Introduction to a Waltz combines elements of classical music with big band swing styles. Annie's Cousin Fanny and When Icky Morgan Plays the Organ are big band arrangements based on the big band musical styles of the 1930s as is the classic Moonlight Serenade from 1939. 7-0-5 is a big band style instrumental for the Army Air Force band. I Sustain the Wings is a big band style instrumental that incorporates strings that accentuate an ascending musical motif. Glenn Miller incorporated swing, jazz, popular music, big band styles, Tin Pan Alley, Dixieland Jazz, and classical music in his compositions. Sometime was a pop ballad but with a Big Band arrangement.
Glenn Miller had 23 number one records and 72 top ten hits from 1939 to 1943. By comparison, The Beatles had 20 number one singles in the U.S. from 1963 to 1970. Elvis Presley had 18 number one hits from 1956 to 1977. The domination of the U.S. charts by Glenn Miller was unprecedented in the 20th century.
Glenn Miller was arguably one of the first pop superstars, along with artists such as Benny Goodman and Bing Crosby. Miller was more famous as an arranger and conductor than as a composer. Aside from Moonlight Serenade, Annie's Cousin Fanny is another composition that is well known, written when Miller was an arranger and trombonist in the Dorsey Brothers Band in 1934. His strength was in finding compositions others had written and producing catchy arrangements, either on his own or in collaboration with arrangers such as Jerry Gray, Bill Finegan, George Williams, and Norman Leyden. He had a talent for picking songs that audiences would go for. He knew how to put together new and different sounds that were innovative enough to stretch his listeners' tastes and make them want more without being so unusual that they would lose interest.
For example, In the Mood was written in the middle 1930s by a composer named Joe Garland, and went through all sorts of different arrangements (and at least 2 other titles) without becoming a hit. Joe Garland also arguably plagiarized the main melodic riff from a 1930 composition by Wingy Manone entitled Tar Paper Stomp on Champion Records, where it first appeared. Manone never sued Garland for plagiarism. The main riff is identical, however, in both compositions. Edgar Hayes recorded an early version as did Artie Shaw. Both recordings flopped. Garland then took the instrumental to Glenn Miller. Miller figured out how to cut the original 8+ minutes down to a respectable 3; his cuts and tightenings actually gave the tune more impact and it became one of the most famous swing recordings ever, staying at no.1 for 13 weeks on the Billboard Juke Box chart in 1940. The time, however, was not the key factor because Sing, Sing, Sing written by Louis Prima, and recorded by Benny Goodman, was a smash hit and defined the Swing Era and clocked in at 8 minutes and 39 seconds. The music was so mesmerizing that people bought the record anyway. Glenn Miller made the music exciting by emphasizing the key, catchy riffs, in particular, the Wingy Manone riff from 1930, which made up the core of the recording.
Glenn Miller enlisted composers Mack Gordon and Harry Warren to write songs for his two films, Sun Valley Serenade (1941), with Milton Berle, John Payne, Dorothy Dandridge, Sonja Henie, and the Nicholas Brothers, and Orchestra Wives (1942), with Ann Rutherford, who had been in Gone With the Wind, George Montgomery, Jackie Gleason, and Harry Morgan, then worked with them and Jerry Gray on arrangements to give us Serenade in Blue, At Last, and Chattanooga Choo Choo - not a bad set by anyone's evaluation. Glenn Miller composed the instrumental Boom Shot for the Orchestra Wives soundtrack. At Last, first recorded by Glenn Miller and reaching no.14 on the Billboard charts, has been covered by Nat King Cole, Etta James, Stevie Wonder, Ray Anthony, Christina Aguilera, and Beyonce Knowles in 2008.
Miller hosted a radio program entitled I Sustain the Wings from 1943 to 1944 one of whose goals was to encourage enlistment. One of the instrumentals that Miller recorded was El Capitan by John Philip Sousa. Miller co-wrote I Sustain the Wings and 7-0-5 during this period. And as conductor of the Army Air Forces Orchestra, he led the way in combining jazz and classical sounds in a manner never heard before, or, tragically, since.