We noted in passing in a recent article a subtle musical allusion in Gravity's Rainbow to Glenn Miller–actually a cluster of allusions we would like to expand on here, for they are of more consequence than might first appear. When Slothrop penetrates the Potsdam Conference, he hears "a dance band with a mammoth reed section" (382) playing "Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree." The vocals the band accompanies are a close cover of the Andrews Sisters' Top-20 recording from the 1942 film Private Buckaroo, but the reed-dominated melody line derives from Glenn Miller's Spring 1942 Number-1 hit (Bluebird 11474). Later in Gravity's Rainbow, aboard the Anubis, Slothrop hears another famous Miller song: "the saxman is playing 'Chattanooga Choo Choo'" (468). By 1944, that song and Miller were synonymous; the Miller version (Bluebird 11230) charted Number 1 for nine weeks in 1941, and became the first certified million seller in American recording history.
How to Cite: McCarron, W & Eller, J . (1993) “Pynchon and Glenn Miller”, Pynchon Notes. doi: 10.16995/pn.225