GK: I have been listening to Vince Giordano and His Nighthawks since I was a small child living in our family's sod shanty on the windswept plains of Minnesota and when you've been picking potatoes all day and you come in and turn on the radio and it's a band dressed in tuxedoes, it means more than I can say.
TR (ANNC): And now, from the Town Hall just off Times Square in New York City, Hercules Cleaning Crystals brings you Vince Giordano and His Nighthawks --(SWAMPFIRE) (THEME UP AND FADE) -- yes, from the fashionable rooftop lounge of Town Hall overlooking West 44th Street and the bright lights of Broadway, it's the Galahad of Gotham, the handsome young society bandleader Vince Giordano and his orchestra, each one an Ivy League graduate and a family man...(FADING) brought to you by Hercules Cleaning Crystals...
GK: It was a vision of elegance to us growing up in a sod hut. A house made of dirt. (DRIPPING) In a family of 13. We were sharecroppers working for the evil landlord Simon McGee.
FN: What're those young 'uns doing reading books? Get em out pickin potatoes. Their legs are short, just right for pickin spuds. They can learn to read when they're old and crippled. (WHIP)
GK: My dad was Swedish (TR SWEDISH) and he didn't read English so he didn't know that slavery had been abolished so there we were and mother Signe went insane (SS SINGING IN SWEDISH, IN VACANT WAY). She just seemed happier that way. And for all of us, the highpoint of the week was when Vince and his band came on the radio.
TR: Live from the Rainbow Room high atop the RCA Building above the glittering lights of midtown Manhattan, it's Vince Giordano and his Nighthawks with a program of dance music...brought to you by Thompson Tooth Tinsel for brighter, more festive teeth. (IT IS TO LAUGH) (THEME UP AND FADE) Yes, it's New York's famous Nighthawks led by society bandleader Vince Giordano, the man who sets the beat for the elite to tap their feet. And how does a bandleader keep his teeth looking their best (FADE) -- he reaches for Thompson's Tooth Tinsel...
GK: New York seemed so glamorous to us and Vince was a model of sophistication, especially compared to my dad who only spoke rarely. (TR SWEDISH) Mostly he just cleared his throat. (THROAT CLEAR). Mostly he just expressed disappointment and disapproval. And everyday there were more potatoes to dig even as snowstorms swept in from Canada (STORM) and we had to go save the pigs (HOG PANIC) from the wolves (HOWL) and the cruel landowner was after us (WHIPS) and so it meant a lot to us when we could turn the radio on and hear--
TR (ANNC): And now live from the Montclair Country Club six miles east of Exit 43A on the New Jersey Turnpike, it's Vince Giordano and His Twilight Serenaders. (JERSEY BOUNCE) (THEME UNDER...) Yes, it's time once again for the Svengali of Swing, and his sportcoat-clad musical minions as they enthrall you with their hard-earned virtuosity here on Turnpike Time, brought to you by Montclair...the most trusted name in lawn care products.
GK: Something was different. It just wasn't the same. -- there we were hip-deep in mud (FOOTSTEPS IN MUD, PIG, CHICKENS) and yet we could tell the difference when Vince's show moved to New Jersey and I wrote a letter to the handsome bandleader in pencil on lined tablet paper...
FN: (CHILD) "Dear Mr. Gi-or-da-no, Don't leave New York. This is a big mistake."
GK: And the very next week--
TR (ANNC): And now live and direct from the Pocono Ballroom in Perkasy, Pennsylvania, it's Vince Giordano and His Pocono Ponies. (PENNSYLVANIA POLKA) (THEME UNDER) Yes, once again Pocono Pork Products in the Polka-Dot Package brings you America's Prince of the Polka, Vince Giordano and his effervescent orchestra, here to play the tunes that America loves best...
GK: My dad liked the new show just fine (TR SWEDISH) but I sat in the little sod hut, and wrote Vince a letter...
FN (CHILD): (WRITING) I am only ten years old but I know that you are going in the wrong direction.
GK: I don't think he ever got my letter because the next week.
TR (ANNC): And now live from the Bowman Auditorium in Omaha, Nebraska, American Home Abdominal Supports and Hernia Care Products brings you Vince Giordano and His Jolly Jazzmen. (IT IS TO LAUGH) Yes, welcome to another program presenting snappy tunes for happy people, and now here he is...the Maestro of Mellowness himself...mister Vince Giordano.
GK: I leaned forward toward our old dirt-crusted radio receiver for never before had I heard the actual voice of the bandleader except in counting off the tempo for each tune. But now here he was, speaking to us.
VG: You know, boys and girls, when people ask me what is the secret of my success in the field of music, I have to say -- regular exercise. A hundred situps a day and at least half an hour of vigorous walking. You can't be hip if you're not in good shape. And that's why all the boys in the band like to spend at least four hours a day in good hard physical labor...
GK: It was so wrong. So utterly wrong. It went against everything Vince represented to us...the carefree life of urbane sophistication...the burning the candle at both ends...I wrote him a note...
FN (CHILD): (WRITING) Mr. Giordano: please don't talk anymore. Just play music. Like you used to. Sincerely yours...
GK: And soon thereafter...
TR (ANNC): Live from the American Legion Lounge in Topeka, Kansas, it's Vince Giordano and His Harvesters of Rhythm...brought to you by Swanson Fly Swatters...the most effective way to rid your barn of pesky insects. (BROTHER CAN YOU SPARE A DIME) Yes, it's Mid-America's Heartthrob of Harmony, Vince Giordano and His Jukebox of Jubilation, brought to you by Swanson Fly Swatters and Fly Paper...with adhesive on both sides, Swanson Fly Paper catches twice as many flies as competing brands. And now...here's Vince.
GK: So evidently he had not gotten my letter. There he was.
VG: You know, when people ask me what is the secret of my success in the field of music, I have to say -- travel. I love to travel and to look out the windows of our big Scenicruiser Band Bus and look at the beautiful wheatfields and small towns of middle America and to get back to my roots among Lutherans. Yes-- it's true. Despite my last name, I am Swedish through and through. YOGG ER SVENSKER.
GK: It was such a terrible lie. I cashed in my U.S. Savings Bonds and got a bus to Omaha and I went to the Cornhusker Hotel and I spoke to Vince personally.
FN (CHILD): Mr. Giordano?
VG: Yes, son?
FN (CHILD): I listen to your radio show faithfully every week from my family's pitiful sod hut on the prairie and I just have to say -- your show has not been the same since you left Manhattan.
VG: But our big audience is in the Midwest-- Kansas, Nebraska, the Dakotas-- I thought we should take the show there--
FN (CHILD): We don't want you to come to us. We want you to be mysterious and faraway.
VG: I hadn't thought of that...
FN (CHILD): Radio is all about mystery, Mr. Giordano. Go back to Manhattan. And don't talk. We want to imagine you. And get rid of your announcer.
TR (ANNC): Me? Why-- I've been Vince's announcer for thirty-five years.
FN (CHILD): Time for something new. Get a woman, Mr. Giordano.
VG: A woman!
FN (CHILD): That's all your band needs is a beautiful woman. And you'll be back in the big-time before you know it.
GK: And sure enough, I tuned in a few weeks later and it was like a whole new show...
HM: And now, live from the Rainbow Room high above the glittering lights of midtown Manhattan, it's "Manhattan Serenade" with Vince Giordano and his Nighthawks, brought to you by Talk Of The Town Talcum Powder and Pomades.. (ON TO THE SHOW) (THEME AND UNDER) Yes, once again the denizens of the dark come to life on the dance floor of the dazzling Rainbow Room, as the enigmatic Vince Giordano leads his orchestra...(FADING) from his shadowy perch in the rhythm section...
GK: Such a simple business, entertainment. All they needed was a glamorous woman. In New York, you might not be able to figure that out because New York is so full of glamorous women, they're as common as deerflies, but out there on the frozen tundra, living in our squalid huts, enduring the cold and the tedium and the misery of harvesting tubers, when we hear glamour on the radio, we sit up and pay attention.
(MANHATTAN SERENADE WITH HEATHER MASSE)