Everyone knows In the Mood, right? Yes. And I’m sure most people believe it was composed by Glenn Miller, but it most certainly wasn’t, although it was a US No.1 hit for the Glenn Miller Orchestra in 1940.
In the Mood, as In the Mood, was, shall we say, ‘put together’ by saxophonist/composer/arranger Joe Garland. Although the GMO recorded it in 1939, it was actually recorded a year earlier by Edgar Hayes and his Orchestra – a recording that featured Joe Garland.
That, however, is not the start of the story. In the Mood’s main riff was the basis for There’s Rhythm in Harlem, again by Joe Garland, and recorded by the Mills Blue Rhythm Band in 1935. In 1938 that same riff featured in Hot Green Beans, by Joe Marsala and his Chicagoans. Marsala had previously worked with trumpeter Wingy Manone. In 1939 Manone recorded Jumpy Nerves, a couple of months before GMO recorded In the Mood. Jumpy Nerves also featured this seemingly ubiquitous riff. Going further back, in 1931 Fletcher Henderson and His Orchestra recorded Hot and Anxious, again featuring that In the Mood riff. So who actually composed it?
Well, it would appear the tune that eventually became In the Mood was actually composed by Wingy Manone. As early as 1930 Manone wrote and composed Tar Paper Stomp, which is clearly the forerunner of In the Mood, so that’s the end (or rather the start) of the story.
Except it isn’t.
In 1925 O’Bryant’s Washboard Band released Clarinet Get Away (or Getaway) that includes a riff bearing a slight, though distinct, resemblance to Tar Paper Stomp.
All of this goes to show that in the world of early blues, jazz and swing tunes evolved and were borrowed, stolen and bought and copyright was a somewhat nebulous concept.