A-L-B-U-Q-U-E-R-Q-U-E was written by bandleader Ralph Flanagan (music) and Herb Hendler (lyrics). It is a fun song to sing with its swing rhythm and refrain, and as an extra bonus, anyone who learns the song also learns how to spell Albuquerque, not a small accomplishment in itself!
It has been reported that Herb Hendler liked the city of Albuquerque and wanted to write a song about it to express how he felt. A-L-B-U-Q-U-E-R-Q-U-E was the result.
The other half of this team was a young arranger by the name of Ralph Flanagan. After serving in the merchant marines during World War Two, Ralph Flanagan became a studio musician for RCA Victor Records in New York and began arranging for such bandleaders as Charlie Barnet, Hal McIntyre, Gene Krupa, Boyd Raeburn and Blue Baron.
During the Glenn Miller revival of the late 1940s and early 1950s, RCA Victor re-issued all sorts of old Miller recordings and airchecks and was looking for new ways to continue the momentum of the Miller popularity. Record producer Herb Hendler hired Flanagan to record some Miller songs for a minor record label. When Hendler later went to work for RCA, Flanagan was working as a staff arranger for the Mitchell Ayers Orchestra that was playing on the Perry Como television show. Hendler suggested to the RCA powers- that-be that Flanagan front a Glenn Miller-type band and make some recordings in the Miller style. Actually, Flanagan had no connection whatsoever with the Miller Orchestra, but Hendler figured that by creating a band that sounded something like Miller’s old civilian band, RCA would either create a popular new band or at least stimulate the sales of old Miller records.
Flanagan wrote some new arrangements and used musicians from the Perry Como Show to record them in 1949. RCA Victor mounted a huge promotional campaign and the records began to sell. Heavy disc jockey play prompted requests for the band to tour ballrooms in the East and Midwest. With that development, however, Hendler found himself with a problem. Despite the popularity of the recordings, there was no actual Ralph Flanagan Orchestra. The orchestra was strictly a pick-up studio band. So, Hendler, with the help of Bernie Woods, formed a touring band.
In March of 1950, with a new, young group of touring musicians, Flanagan set out on the road with his Glenn Miller-sounding band. Propelled by the heavy RCA promotion of the MilIer style records, the ploy worked. The Flanagan band quickly became the most sought-after band in the country. Among the band’s most popular hits were Hot Toddy, The Blues from “An American in Paris,” Joshua, and The Red We Want Is The Red We’ve Got (In the Old Red, White and Blue). The other hit the band had was released in 1953 and is the subject of this post – the novel tribute to New Mexico’s largest city, the aforementioned, A-L-B-U-Q-U-E-R-Q-U-E. Johnnie Lee Wills also recorded the song in 1953 (a copy of which I have not been able to locate). The song also appears on the CD compilation More Songs Of Route 66, released in 2001, performed by the Country/Western group Asleep at the Wheel (a copy of which I have included even though this recording is beyond the time-frame of my blog: 1945-1955). There are other recorded songs entitled Albuquerque, but they are not this song by Flanagan and Hendler.
Lyrics by Herb Hendler, Music by Ralph Flanagan 1953
A-L-B-U-Q-U-E-R-Q-U-E Albuquerque, Albuquerque
Gotta go, gotta go back to New Mexico,
Where my true love waits for me.
Gonna go, gonna go to a gal that I know
I’m gonna take that old train to a nest in the west
That’s a new address for me
Gonna burn up the track
‘Cause I’m on my way back
Albuquerque, Albuquerque here I come
On the Chi-LA express.
Gotta letter near my heart from my sweetest gal
And that letter near my heart says yes.
I’m the one, I’m the one, I’m the one she loves best
‘Cause she gotta lotta mail from me
I’m the one guy she knew, who knew how to spell
By the way, one can also sing the name of the city to the Mickey Mouse Song: ALB – UQU – ERQUE. I like how UQU comes out as a measure by itself.
Ralph Flanagan and His Orchestra [vocals by Ralph Flanagan and the Singing Winds]
Asleep at the Wheel