Archive of Reader Reactions & Anecdotes

Reader Comments on Remembering Fred Ahlert

From Annelle, 14 March 2008:

"I don't know why" but you & your words bring such joy to all....hang in there - you're not old, you were old last year! Fondly, Annelle

From Norbert, 08 March 2008:

The piece of music, I Don't Know Why, by Fred Ahlert, reminded me of an incident during my time in that era. Fortunately for me I knew of no sour notes like Congressman Ziltch, at least where I was then.

In addition to enjoying the music of the time, I had an aunt and uncle who where organists in the big Chicago theatres. This was in the 20s and 30s when such people were local celebrities. They were part of the great, large-theatre shows popular at the time. These shows were medleys of movies, vaudeville performances, pipe-organ concerts and sometimes Big Bands like Benny Goodman and the Dorsey Brothers.

The programs went this way: after the movie was over and the live stage act finished, the thundering pipe organ music began. The pipe organ console, under focused spotlight, with the organist playing on three or four keyboards, would rise out of the darkness like a brilliant second coming. The theatre would be instantly transformed into a giant music hall. Saturated in melody, each person in the audience would actually feel the vibrations of the thunderous bass notes.

After an overture, the organist would start playing a popular song like "I Don't Know Why." The lyrics would appear on the movie screen and the audience would sing as a bouncing ball moved from phrase to phrase. Audiences would become joyous. It all sounded great. The bad notes and gutturals emanating from some individuals were blotted out by the clear, overwhelming, harmonious tones from the powerful organ. Everyone had fun. I'm sure some of Ahler's tunes were included from time to time along with those of other greats from Tin Pan Alley.

What hadn't occurred to me, until my aunt gave me a first-name introduction to Jimmy Dorsey, was that all these people in the music business knew and worked with each other and that these glistening celebrities were real, down-to-earth people. The only difference between them and the likes of Congressman Ziltch was that they were good guys with talent. The trouble is that that magnificent era is gone, but the era of Congressman Ziltch is still with us. Think of it! We still have his kind of person bitching up things for the entire country. And this is our fault. We elected these people. Maybe it is time to do something.

Hey! How about term limits? Or is that another subject?