Initially, my father’s non-living wage, public school teacher gig had necessitated menus consisting of the cheapest, tasteless cuts of fatty / gristly meats and made patched up hand-me-downs my “fashion statement”. We rented from a slumlord, who probably was counting on his furnace’s carbon monoxide fumes to exterminate his hovel’s rats.
What little tech we did possess involved a snowy, black & white VHF-only TV, staticky AM-only radio and cheapo, monaural phonograph that damaged whatever vinyl it sank it’s stylus / fang into.
Fortunately, Presidents JFK and LBJ’s vision for a Great Society materialized… thereby helping to elevate folks like us out of poverty. By the early 1970s, I was actually pursuing my Broadcast Arts college degree… my parents even generously affording me the tools of my hoped for trade… e.g., an AM/FM stereo receiver, turntable, reel-to-reel tape deck, microphones and headphones.
A show of gratitude certainly was in order. My inspiration came from  watching Mom using a low-fidelity, monaural cassette recorder to tape her fave tunes off her tiny, tinny sounding radio AND from  listening to her rationale… namely… her concerns regarding Hard Rock station formats popping up all over… up and down the dial… a trend with the potential of banishing her fave Big Band music entirely from the FM band.
My game plan became to give Mom the gift of music… i.e., set up my tech to tape whatever songs she deemed keepers. On the night of our recording session, she became instantly WOWED by the clarity and expanded frequency range, which her audio devices lacked. Even after the passage of 4 decades, I still vividly remember her words… verbatim…
“It’s as if the musicians are right here in the room with us!”
And truth be told, her hard rocker son, too, experienced that same WOW! Never before had I heard Big Bands played in high fidelity.
While this was all good news, this tape did fall short in one crucial aspect. The DJ… perhaps sensing he’d soon be replaced by a rock jock… had been either rapidly rattling off his playlists or flat-out neglecting to do so. His omissions rendered the status of “ARTIST UNKNOWN” to the very song, which had incontrovertibly converted me into a Big Band enthusiast!
While my folks could both name that tune… Bugle Call Rag... neither could quite figure out “The Whodunit”… especially seeing how a bevy of band leaders all had included their versions within their repertoires.
There was one other prob, too… Mom shied away at the mere thought of trying to thread an open reel tape deck… a device sporting a lit up, metered control panel that could’ve fit in well within a jet’s cockpit. Ergo, I needed to be on hand for each playback… i.e., until my acquisition of a HIFI cassette deck. That device had been barely out of the box when I dubbed Mom her user friendly copy.
That handpicked by Mom, 25 song musical set was a representative sampling of the soundtrack to her life. As such, this cassette was destined to become her all time fave… one she wound up constantly playing back for the next (nearly) three decades. She’d have likely insisted on taking it with her, too… well… had there not been strict rules prohibiting worldly possessions beyond Earth’s Exit signs.
Beyond that… throughout the latter years of this tape’s lifetime… I could not help but concede that… just like my Mom… I’d wind up taking my final breath never having even the slightest inkling regarding Bugle Call Rag’s whodunit.
On a more positive note, I did conclude that YouTube… the repository of humankind’s creativity… could afford me my best shot at remedying that prob… especially upon considering the following fun facts…
“The total number of people who use YouTube – 1,300,000,000. 300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute! Almost 5 billion videos are watched on YouTube every single day. In an average month, 8 out of 10 18-49 year-olds watch YouTube.”
There just had to be at least one other Earthling YouTuber who was aware of my sought after version of Bugle Call Rag… RIGHT??? Yet… many a past search had left me “empty handed”.
It was mere weeks ago… as the waning hours of Tuesday, January the 15th were ticking down into the wee hours of Wednesday the 16th*… when… once more… I found myself scrolling through multiple dozens of YouTube Bugle Call Rag finds… skipping over any that had PB times significantly greater or less than my unknown’s known 2 minutes and 50 seconds timing.
This was where and when the ancient saying, “The Third Time’s the Charm” certainly had come into play. Following my audition of the first two potential matches…
Within hearing the first few notes of try number three… I simply could not believe my ears! Although this upload was not doing full justice to this track’s base frequencies… my 44-year-old whodunit search had come to a successful conclusion! All the sudden I felt this odd sensation on my face.
Rushing over to a mirror, I realized I was actually smiling… a rarity in my life these days considering the sorry state of our world and my homeland. And I kept on smiling, too, for I could now check “Discover Bugle Call Rag band leader’s name” off my bucket list!
WOW…. I almost forgot to mention that the mystery maestro and his merry music makers were/are Glen Gray and his Casa Loma Orchestra!
And since it had always been my contention that anyone who could’ve created such an energetic gem must also possess a massive repertoire of other must hear music, my next www destination became Barnes & Nobel where I discovered Mr. Gray’s CD… an hour’s worth of Big Band music with none other than Bugle Call Rag as the #1 Track. Within one week, USPS delivered my order.
I’ve now been listening to this entire CD with the same enthusiasm and frequency as Mom had played her birthday present… oh… so long ago. Interestingly enough… I’m using the exact same stereo receiver’s amp to power the very same speakers which blasted forth Gray’s rendition of Bugle Call Rag for my family’s listening pleasure!
*ADDENDUM: My above mention of Tuesday the 15th leading into Wednesday the 16th, has a much deeper significance. The April page of 2003’s calendar conformed to that identical day/date alignment… my Mom’s last two days on Earth… a time where we had been able to converse and reminisce for the first 5 hours of what would turn out to be my 22-hour vigil.