Monday, December 19, 2011

On The Tenth Day of Christmas ...


I just thought about something I would like to comment on and an idea which you might have done in the past. I really haven't checked on this. But first things first.

Here in OKC, as probably in your town as well, there is a radio station that started playing Christmas songs full time the day after Thanksgiving and will continue to play them up through Christmas day. Would you believe a friend of mine told me this past Saturday that the day before he heard JINGLE BELL ROCK twice. Now back in the good old days, our local top 40 radio station started playing Christmas songs about 10 days - 2 weeks after Thanksgiving. In fact in mid December they put out a special weekly radio survey of nothing but Christmas songs on it which they were playing at the time.

My idea is this and again you may have done this in the past. Forgive me if you have since I didn't check past comments. The week leading up to Christmas, how about putting in the daily FH a Christmas song you don't hear on the radio anymore?

I have no idea which ones that would be. I know here in OKC there were some songs years ago that became traditional which were album cuts. Just a suggestion.

There is something else I would like to comment on but can't at the moment.

I have to go. I just found out that my GRANDMA JUST GOT RUN OVER BY A REINDEER.
They don't even wait till Thanksgiving anymore to kick off the Christmas programming here in Chicago.  I, too, remember the days when we gracefully drifted into Christmas music, starting slowly ... then maybe one track an hour ... one track every half hour ... etc. ... until we built up to maybe 48 hours for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  While I find it all too much, it's proven to be a VERY popular programming alternative across the country ... and it's become a real ratings grabber, too ... so it isn't going anywhere anytime soon!
Ironically, we had the exact same idea regarding featuring long-forgotten Christmas singles for our daily "Today's Forgotten Hit" feature, running the entire week before the big day.
So be sure to check the website daily to see what we've come up with.
(Special thanks to Joel Whitburn's book "Christmas In the Charts, 
1920 - 2004" ... thumbing through those pages gave us ALL kinds of suggestions and ideas!  It's a recap of EVERY song that charted on Billboard's special holiday charts for that incredible 84 year period!!!  Unreal!)
You can get your OWN copy of this book through Joel's Record Research Website here:

Or ... you can register to WIN a copy of this great book right now!!!  That's right ... thanks to Joel Whitburn and Record Research, we'll be giving away TWO copies of this book later this week.  Drop me an email NOW to make sure that YOUR name is on the list!  (kk)

I guess you could say we asked for it! 
Last week we casually mentioned that we would take some suggestions for some Christmas favorites that just don't get much airplay anymore, thinking that we could feature five of these ... or maybe even TEN of these (if we did two-fers all week long) in our "Today's Forgotten Hit" segment.
Well, we got BOMBARDED with suggestions!!!  HUNDREDS in fact!!! More than we could EVER play during the course of Twelve Days Of Christmas.  (More than we could play during 120 Days of Christmas!!!) 
What we found is that some of the songs you guys are telling us you don't hear, we hear in Chicago quite often.  And MANY of these tunes that you've suggested I've never even heard of!!!  (By the way, that doesn't necessarily make it a "Forgotten Hit" ... we wanted to come up with some titles that you'll remember as soon as you hear them ... you just don't hear them much anymore.)
We picked ten that'll be popping up all week long (so be sure to check back often) ... and we've got a GREAT head start on NEXT YEAR's series, too!  Enjoy!  (kk) 
Some favorites that immediately came to mind for me were "Mary's Boy Child" by Harry Belafonte and "Christmas Auld Lang Syne" by Bobby Darin.  (In fact, we'll feature both of these tracks TOMORROW in our "Today's Forgotten Hit" segment.)  I also remembered "The Happy Reindeer" by Dancer, Prancer and Nervous ... but maybe The Chipmunks have a lock on sped-up novelty hits during the holiday season ... despite the fact that this record went all the way to #21 back in 1959.
And how about "Baby's First Christmas" by Connie Francis?  We hear Brenda Lee every holiday season ... but Connie's 1961 #26 Hit seems nowhere to be found.  Either the Bobby Helms version or the Hall and Oates version of "Jingle Bell Rock" seem to be playing every time I turn on the radio lately ... but what about the great Philadelphia Chubby Checker / Bobby Rydell version?  That record went to #21 in 1961 ... and now that the Cameo / Parkway material is finally legally available again, we figured this would be a GREAT one to feature!
We got lots of other great suggestions, too ... so be sure to stop back often this week to see what OTHER Forgotten Hits Christmas Favorites made the list!  (kk)

Don't get me started -- I could give you enough songs to last until Christmas, 2012. BTW, I think Harry Belafonte's "I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day" is a lot more neglected than "Mary's Boy Child." I agree
with "Christmas Auld Lang Syne" and "The Happy Reindeer", so I left them off my list.
So here's a baker's dozen of songs I don't hear much anymore:
"Christmas Day" - Ral Donner
"Ding Dong" - George Harrison
"Goin' Home (Sing A Song Of Christmas Cheer)" - Bobby Sherman
"Little Altar Boy" - Vic Dana
"Merry Christmas Baby" - Ike & Tina Turner
"Presents For Christmas" - Solomon Burke
"Slippin' Into Christmas" - Leon Russell
"The Marvelous Toy" - Chad Mitchell Trio
"The Mistletoe & Me" - Isaac Hayes
"This Time Of The Year" - Brook Benton
"Twistin' Bells" - Santo & Johnny
"Zat You Santa Claus?" - Louis Armstrong
and, of course, "Green Chri$tma$" - Stan Freberg
-- Ron Smith


I never really thought of George Harrison's "Ding Dong, Ding Dong" as a Christmas song ... but several other people on the list suggested this one, too ... and you sure don't hear it on the radio anymore.
To my ears, this is one of George's weakest singles (despite reaching #36 in 1975), but (by popular demand) we'll give it a spin here today.  (Perhaps another reason I never related this one to Christmas ... it debuted on the charts in the middle of January!!! Or maybe that makes it more of a New Year's tune???  "Ring out the old, ring in the new"???)
We provided a YouTube link for the Leon Russell track last week (radio would do well to feature "Slippin' Into Christmas" once in a while ... and, at least here in Chi-Town, its localized B-Side "Christmas In Chicago", too!)  "Twistin' Bells" is a GREAT Santo and Johnny track that we've featured the past two years (Johnny Farina is a regular Forgotten Hits reader) ... and if you check back later in the week, you'll find The Chad Mitchell Trio track featuerd in our "Today's Forgotten Hit" segment.  (kk)

Hello Kent,  
My family and I were up north this weekend doing our annual “cut down a Christmas tree” weekend.  I love the season and we played Christmas music all the way there and back. 
So, in answer to some of my favorite Christmas songs that I didn’t hear, here’s my list of 20 that seem to be forgotten: 
Bryan Adams … Christmas Time
Alabama ... Christmas In Dixie
Andrews Sisters … Christmas Island
Harry Belafonte … Mary’s Boy Child
Brook Benton … This Time Of The Year
Booker T. & The MG’s … Jingle Bells
Jim Ed Brown & Helen Cornelius … Fall Softly Snow
Bobby Rydell & Chubby Checker … Jingle Bell Rock
Bobby Darin … Christmas Auld Lang Syne
The 4 Seasons … Santa Claus Is Coming To Town
Connie Francis … Baby’s First Christmas
Connie Francis … I’m Gonna Be Warm This Winter
Stan Freberg … Christmas Dragnet
Bert Kaempfert … Jingo Jango
Roy Orbison … Pretty Paper
The Ravens … White Christmas
Jim Reeves … Snow Flake
The Royal Guardsmen … Snoopy’s Christmas
Santo & Johnny … Twistin’ Bells
Stevie Wonder … Some Day At Christmas 
I also wanted to tell you that last week Billboard introduced a brand new “Holiday Songs” chart which is based on their Hot 100 chart formula combining, sales, airplay and downloads.  
It’s a Top 50 chart and includes all of the great classics – Brenda Lee, Feliciano, Ives, Helms, Cole, Crosby, Autry, etc, etc.
If you got this morning’s year-end double issue, you’ll see that even an old classic like Bing Crosby’s “It’s Beginning To Look Like Christmas” is at #27, one notch ahead of Johnny Mathis’s version!  
I’m so glad they’re publishing this chart again.  It’ll be great for my next revision of “Christmas in the Charts”.
Joel Whitburn

Some great ideas on this list.  I've always been partial to Bryan Adams' "Christmas Time" ... but still hear that one once in a while.  The days of Alabama's music crossing over to the pop charts are LONG gone ... but I always enjoyed "Christmas In Dixie".  We've either already featured a few of these other tracks ... or have them coming up later in the week ... so stay tuned.  (One track I've grown tired of over the past few years is Roy Orbison's "Pretty Paper" ... that's one we hear here in Chicago WAY too often!!!)  kk

When compiling the "laundry list" of Christmas classics, don't forget CHRISTMAS DRAGONET by Stan Freeburg ... or NUTTIN' FOR CHRISTMAS by Ricky Zahnd ... or SNOOPY'S CHRISTMAS by The Royal Guardsmen
Tal Hartsfeld
We got LOTS of Christmas suggestions to feature for our final week of The Twelve Days Of Christmas.  I was surprised to see "Snoopy's Christmas" on so many of them because we still hear that song quite a bit here in Chicago during the holiday season.  But honestly it has been the most requested song of the week, so be sure to keep checking our "Today's Forgotten Hit" column ... in fact, you'll find it there today!  (kk)

How about "The Second Miracle" ... am I the only one who remembers this Christmas song from Christmas, 1962, by Ral Donner on Reprise?  It did get enough airplay on WLS for me to run out and buy the 45 at Polk Brothers!  Great song that I have never heard mention of or heard on the radio since!
I'm wondering if Ral Donner released a two-sided Christmas hit (or rather "non-hit" in this case, since neither of these tracks ever charted) ... because Ron Smith also had a Ral Donner track on HIS list this year.  ("Christmas Day")  Thanks to FH Reader Tom Diehl, we've got BOTH of these tracks available to share today ... from Ral's Reprise period.  (kk)

For your information and maybe enjoyment, here is a partial list of Christmas songs which made our local top 40 radio station back in the late fifties-early sixties. Some of these are somewhat obscure.
2. THE HAPPY REINDEER - Dancer, Prancer & Nervous
5. OLD TOY TRAINS - Roger Miller
9. FRONTIER CHRISTMAS - Hudson & Landry
10. SHAKE ME, I RATTLE - Marion Worth
11. CHRISTMAS TEARS - Freddie King
12. DEAR SANTA CLAUS - Buddy Hackett
13. CHRISTMAS CARD - Earl Grant
15. SANTA CLAUS JUNIOR - Robert Q. Lewis
20.  MISTER SANTA - Lollipops
(probably the biggest one ever here in OKC)
Have a great week.

You'll find quite a few of these titles spread out across this week's wrap up of our Twelve Days Of Christmas series.  One of the tracks on your list, "Donde Este Santa Claus" gets played here every once in a while ... but is a VERY big record down in Texas ... probably one of their most-played tracks down there for some reason.  (Maybe it's big in Oklahoma, too?)  This was a #36 Hit for Augie Rios when it first charted back in 1958.  (Augie would have been all of 12 years old at the time!)  kk