“The All Night Record Man” – Charlie Barnet And His Orchestra (1939)

Bluebird; New York, July 17, 1939: Charlie Barnet-ss-as-ts-dir/J. Owens-B. Burnet-B. May-t/B. Hall-D. Ruppersberg-B. Robertson-tb/K. Bloom-G. Kinsey-as/D. McCook-J. Lamare-ts/B. Miller-p/B. Etri-g/P. Stevens-b/R. Michaels-d/Charlie Barnet-Judy Ellington-v.

The prefix “meta” comes from Ancient Greek, meaning “in the middle” or, rather, transcending or encompassing. Therefore, the term “metapoem” describes a poem that is about poetry itself. A metapoem is a literary technique and has a certain effect upon the reader.

But now that I’m writing this, I can’t recall from my English major if the literary technique needs to be blatant and clear or if it can be covert and hidden, as in the poem “Diving into the Wreck” by Adrienne Rich.

In the poem, the shipwreck represents the current state of poetry, all of its history leading up to the wreck, the diver as the modern poet, and the responsibility of that poet to find new ways of expressing the modern, while also at the same time incorporating and preserving what has come before: “There is a ladder. The ladder is always there … We know what it is for, we who have used it.”

Either way, here’s a jazz side with no hidden meaning and one that features the singing attempt of no other than Charlie Barnet himself. And as an extra bonus, it’s a jazz side which is about the broadcasting and the listening of jazz, so I guess it counts as a type of jazz “metasong.”

Readers may remember the 1974 top-40 rock song single “Clap for the Wolfman” by the Canadian band The Guess Who, with their tribute to the influential disc jockey, Wolfman Jack–also a type of metasong.


“Lazy Bug” – Charlie Barnet And His Orchestra (1939)

Bluebird; New York, May 8, 1939: Charlie Barnet-ss-as-ts-dir/John Owens-Bob Burnet-Johnny Mendell-John Owens-t/Ben Hall-Don Ruppersberg-Bill Robertson-tb/Kurt Bloom-Gene Kinsey-as/Don McCook-James Lamare-ts/Bill Miller-p/Bus Etri-g/Phil Stevens-b/Wesley Dean-d.

Here’s an atmospheric number from Charlie Barnet which was recorded a year after his 1938 hit “Cherokee.”

If the song evokes film noir imagery of something, or someone, lurking around the corner or hiding within dark shadows, well there is … a new decade, the 1940s, is approaching and, additionally, WWII is now deeply underway with its “Axis of Evil” waiting to infiltrate and strike from within. Keep your eyes and ears open–don’t be a Lazy Bug!


Poster design by Glenn Grohe, ca. 1942.