Thursday, December 16, 2010

More Of Your Christmas Comments and Requests

More comments than you can shake a stick at ...
(But really ... WHY would you want to shake a stick at Christmas time?!?!?)

During the late fifties / early sixties here in OKC, our local top 40 radio station put out, in addition to their weekly top 40 radio songs, a survey which was composed of some 20 - 25 single Christmas songs with some 10 - 12 albums listed at the bottom. This survey was put out starting with the second week in December and, of course, ending some three to four weeks later.
I am listing some of the obscure or odd songs which made the survey during those years. The traditional songs as we know them today were also on the survey.
They are as follows:

1. Porky's Blue Christmas -- 1958
2. Christmas Dragnet -- Stan Freberg -- 1953
3. The Happy Reindeer -- Dancer, Prancer, and Nervous -- 1959
4. Santa and the Purple People Eater -- Sheb Wooley -- 1958
5. Hallelujah Chorus -- Mormon Tabernacle Choir -- 1959
6. They Shined Up Rudolph's Nose -- Johnny Horton -- 1959
7. This Is Christmas -- Ruby Wright -- 1959
8. Santa Looked A Lot Like Daddy -- Buck Owens -- 1965
9. Christmas Carousel -- Peggy Lee -- 1960
10. Old Toy Trains -- Roger Miller -- 1967
11. Donde Esta Santa Claus? -- Augie Rios -- 1958
12. Little Sandy Sleighfoot -- Jimmy Dean -- 1957
13. White Christmas -- Statues -- 1960
14. Nuttin' For Christmas -- Kevin and Corky -- 1959
15. Christmas U.S.A. -- Jimmy Charles -- 1960
(Incidentally, the odds of the above record being remembered by your readers is probably a million to one.)
16. Nine Little Reindeer -- Gene Autry -- 1959

17. Child of God -- Bobby Darin -- 1960
18. Jingle Bells -- Blues Magoos -- 1967
19. The Twelve Gifts of Christmas -- Dorothy Collins -- 1955
20. Rusty Chevrolet -- Da Yoopers -- 1987
21. Santa Claus Junior -- Robert Q. Lewis -- 1958
22. Dear Santa Claus -- Buddy Hackett -- 1957
23. Christmas Tears -- Freddie King -- 1961
24. Shake Me I Rattle -- Marion Worth -- 1962
25. The Happiest Christmas Tree -- Nat King Cole -- 1959
26. Happy Birthday Jesus -- Little Cindy -- 1958
These are just a few some of your readers may or may not remember. My all time favorite is SLEIGH RIDE by the Ronettes (their version from 1963)
Well, I remember quite a few of these (but not all!) Wouldn't it be nice to hear them slip in a few of these every so often, if only to break the monotony of hearing the same old / same old all day long at Christmas time? (kk)

Great run of recent stuff, Kent, particularly the seasonable material!
Here are a few wide-ranging items for your perusal -- three Christmas-related:
#1 - A real day-brightener: You've probably already seen this popular flash-mob Handel's "Messiah" clip:
from what appears to be a shopping center in Welland, Ontario. It's amazing.
Actually, yes ... us and about ten million OTHER people!!! (lol) This one has REALLY caught on ... in fact, we got the link for this from at least a dozen other readers ... but we'll run it again anyway for the benefit of anyone out there who may not have seen it ... or wants to see it again! (kk)
#2 - Also, I was glad to see you feature Simon and Garfunkel's "Seven O'Clock News / Silent Night." Do you recall that the newscaster's voice is that of Charlie O'Donnell, Dick Clark's "Bandstand" sidekick (among his many accomplishments) who recently passed away? No, I was NOT aware of that ... but you'll find another "Silent Night" comment or two a little bit further on down the list! (kk)
#3 - Regarding "Overlooked Christmas Music", I did a list just about a year ago to the day on some of the "old" songs I wish got more airplay -- several with unusual "lineages," including one from a "whorehouse musical," one from a "Nazi plot" film and one by a reggae-influenced German group.
For what it's worth, here's a link to the column --
and an excerpt from it:
With two Twin Cities radio stations already playing Christmas music virtually 24 / 7, you already may be tiring of songs about
a red-nosed reindeer, a lively snowman and even the occasional housebound hippopotamus ...
My eclectic Christmas list includes, among others, a song with whorehouse roots, an upbeat hymn medley by — of all things — a German reggae-influenced group, and a soundtrack song from a 1970s film thriller about an underground neo-Nazi movement.
I’ve got other nominees, too, but here are five seasonal songs that deserve to be heard more in coming days:
5. A traditional holiday song given a nontraditional treatment by Ol’ Blue Eyes. Frank Sinatra jazzes up
“Jingle Bells” for a spell with the swingingest version I’ve ever heard.
4. One from the King. No, not his overplayed “Blue Christmas.” I was thinking of Elvis’ vintage rock ’n’ roll holiday song,
“Santa, Bring My Baby Back (To Me),” featured below with an unusual supporting cast.
3. Dolly Parton’s
“A Hard Candy Christmas” is a poignant “starting over” song that captures the season’s spirit of renewal and new beginnings. The song originally comes from the 1978 Broadway musical “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.”
2. Boney M’s combo “Mary’s Boy Child” / ”Oh My Lord.” The international group, which found fame in Germany and much of Europe with its reggae-influenced sound, produced one of the most upbeat, joyful Christmas songs ever, below. It became the No. 1 Christmas song in the United Kingdom in 1978.
You've got a couple of EXCELLENT suggestions on your list ... Dolly Parton's "Hard Candy Christmas" has always been one of my personal favorites ... and the Boney M song kicks butt. (You might hear that one a couple of times during the holiday season ... and maybe even the Harry Belafonte 1956 version, which I also love!) kk
1. Perry Como’s “Christmas Dream.” To my knowledge, this is the only Christmas song in Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s voluminous repertoire. The number — complete with a German boys choir — comes from the 1974 Jon Voight-Maximilian Schell film “The Odessa File.” The song’s calming lyrics make quite a contrast with the rest of the thriller film’s German conspiracy plot. A small sample:
Crazy things, said and done,
Every single day but one!
Every night should, I believe,
Be the same as Christmas Eve,
Nights should all be silent,
Days should all slow down,
An end to the hurry,
The noise and the worry!

About three emails after yours, we received ANOTHER one expressing love and affection for Perry Como's "Christmas Dream" ... so we've just GOT to feature that one today!!! (You'll find it below if you scroll down!) kk
Then, in the spirit of ecumenism, I wanted to close with a Hanukkah song.
I was thinking of a lighthearted one from
master satirist Tom Lehrer, a good-natured but “equal-opportunity” offender with his wit. Over the years, he’s tweaked religious groups with such offerings as “National Brotherhood Week” and “The Vatican Rag,” so it was only a matter of time before it would be his fellow Jews’ turn.
Give a listen below as he outlines his holiday plans in the song
“(I’m Spending) Hanukkah in Santa Monica.”
-- Lastly, I'm already sick of winter, and it hasn't even officially "arrived" yet -- Minnesota wind chills of 10 below and more early snow than we need.
So, how about welcoming winter when it does arrive on Tuesday, December 21st, with an upbeat winter song? I was thinking of a real "forgotten 45" -- Connie Francis' "I'm Gonna Be Warm This Winter" -- a sentiment I hope to put into practice.
Here's a YouTube clip:
I'm sure there are others, too.
Ironically, this was just one of OUR recent oldies suggestions, too ... and why not ... a bona fide Top 20 Hit ... and 'tis the season! (Connie had ANOTHER Top 20 Winter Hit a few years later when "Blue Winter" went to #16 in Cash Box Magazine. I also suggested Tommy Roe's "It's Now Winters' Day", a song we've featured several times now in Forgotten Hits.)
Hope you and your family have happy holidays, Kent -- and thanks for all the musical treats and fascinating information you provide all year long.
Don Effenberger

Thanks, Don ... Merry Christmas to ALL our Forgotten Hits Readers out there ... friends and families ... and music-lovers worldwide. Have a GREAT holiday season! (Hopefully we've been able to bring a little joy of music to you with this very special Holiday Music Feature!) kk

Kent -
I must confess, I'm something of a Scrooge when it comes to holiday songs, especially when they start playing them before Thanksgiving.
That said -- here is a very short list (VERY short!!!) of my all-time favorites:
1) Snoopy's Christmas by The Royal Guardsmen
2) anything by Vince Guaraldi from the 1965 special, A Charlie Brown Christmas, which is, arguably, the best holiday TV special EVER. Nothing soothes my nerves like Guaraldi's jazz-pop.
3) Bob & Doug (already discussed on there)
4) There's another version of "12 Days of Christmas" - a much older parody I've heard Carol Burnett do on her show but I don't know if she originated it or not, it has lines like "there were six geese a-laying! All over my front porch!"
5) The Chipmunk Song by David Seville aka Ross Bagdasarian This is very dear to my heart. It's probably the best and most tastefully arranged of all the original Chipmunk recordings (not counting the stuff he did before he created "the group" such as The Witch Doctor and The Bird On My Head)
and 6) (Does anyone ever play this anymore??!!) I Still Believe in Santa Claus, by a very young Michael Jackson. Gorgeous tune.
Everyone enjoy your holidays and may 2011 bring you peace and happiness.
-- Bob Rashkow
In 52 years, I've never gotten tired of "The Chipmunk Song" ... but only hearing it for a few weeks out of the year probably has something to do with that! (lol) I've been hearing the Vince Guaraldi / Charlie Brown Christmas Music quite a bit this holiday season ... much, much more than in years past ... and we JUST featured The Royal Guardsmen's "Snoopy's Christmas" the other day ... both the ORIGINAL version from 1968 as well as their brand new remake. Another "Twelve Days Of Christmas" parody that did quite well was Allan Sherman's "The Twelve Gifts Of Christmas", featured here today ... 'cause you're probably NOT going to hear THIS one on the radio either! (kk)

Hi, Kent.
Regarding Simon & Garfunkel's "Seven O'Clock News / Silent Night," I have aired that as part of my Christmas programming for years -- but not quite the way the duo intended. As you know, the "Seven O'Clock News" part is now a highly dated spoken word performance laid over Paul & Art's very moving rendition of "Silent Night." However, the two recordings are actually wholly on separate stereo channels. What we've done is lifted only the "Silent Night" channel, duplicated it to fill both channels and then broadcast that. The result: timeless Simon & Garfunkel Yuletide magic.
Gary Theroux
Even though the newscast is dated, I've always enjoyed hearing it ... it's such a great reflection on the turbulent times that WAS the '60's. (Being from Chicago and greatly impacted by the whole Richard Speck / Student Nurses story, that little blurb really drove it home for me.) But I was quite intrigued by your suggestion, so I asked Forgotten Hits Mix-Master Guru Tom Diehl if he could make a recording of this for us to share. (He's got ALL the cool toys!!!) If you listen closely, you can still hear a little bit of "bleed through" from the newscast ... but overall, Gary's right ... this is one of the most beautiful vocal performances this legendary duo has ever done. Here you go! (kk)

Being a resident of Bloomington, IL, between 1966 and 1973, I, too, was affected by Richard Speck's murder of those nurses upstate and the other headlines mentioned in the track's fake newscast. However, an noted, those news stories are all ancient history now -- while "Silent Night" remains timeless.
The first time I ever broadcast Simon & Garfunkel's "Silent Night" without the newscast overlay was over the 1971 Christmas season on WGLT, the campus radio station at Illinois State University. That was a highly memorable time for me, highlighted by a couple of things. One was discovering about a dozen strolling student carolers outside Cook Hall, the building we were broadcasting from, one moonlit night as the soft, fluffy snowflakes cascaded from the heavens. As our studio was on the third floor, we hooked a bunch of cables together and lowered a microphone down to them so they could harmonize live on the air -- which they did -- for about 15 minutes. When was the last time you heard anything like THAT on the air? (I managed to capture it all on tape and, 20 years later, rebroadcast it on New York radio.) The other memorable event for me was discovering that after two months of dating, I was falling in love with my girlfriend, Gayle Cobb. Attached: she and I on our way to the 1971 ISU Christmas dance.

-- Gary Theroux
For me, the COOLEST thing about doing Forgotten Hits is hitting on that special nerve that triggers a memory you may not have thought about for years. Thank you for sharing yours with our readers. (kk)

Hi Kent
I really enjoyed your great Christmas addition of Sunday's Comments.

I would like to add my favorite Christmas song off all time.
My favorite Christmas song was featured in one of my all time favorite movies. "The Odessa File" . At the beginning of the movie the song" Christmas Dream" by Perry Como is playing on the radio as the movie's main character Peter Miller is driving though downtown Hamburg, West Germany. The Christmas music on the car radio is interrupted to report the death of American President John F. Kennedy. Great movie, great Frederick Forsyth novel and a fantastic overlooked Christmas song.
I must also comment on another great Christmas song, "We Need A Little Christmas".
In your newsletter, Gary Theroux lists this song on "The Greatest All Time Hits Of Christmas. This song is #11 on CD #1. The song is credited to the motion picture "Annie" but, in fact, is from the Jerry Herman Broadway musical "Mame", and was first performed by the great Angela Lansbury. This is an easy oversight, but being one of my favorite all time Christmas songs, I felt we should set the record straight.
May You and Yours have a Merry / Happy and safe Holiday Season.

With THIS much love for the Perry Como tune, we just HAD to feature it today.

We received a couple of comments about the origins of "We Need A Little Christmas" ... it is, indeed, from the Broadway Musical "Mame" and NOT "Annie" as previously reported ... so, on behalf of Gary Theroux, we stand corrected. (kk)

... and, speaking of movies ... and Christmas ...

I love your picks for Christmas movies. Danny Kaye was one of my most favorite actors. And yes you are correct about the tiny waist on Vera Allen. I saw Love Actually in the theater when it came out and fell in love with it as well. I own the movie and the soundtrack. Good picks and what a nice tradition for your family to have.


How about If I Get Home On Christmas Day by Elvis?
This is a nice Christmas song to remind us of our brave military who are serving worldwide. Too bad this was never a single.

Elvis cut some GREAT Christmas tunes over the years ... some of my favorites include "Santa Bring My Baby Back To Me" and "If Every Day Was Like Christmas", "Santa Claus Is Back In Town", "Merry Christmas Baby" and, of course, "Blue Christmas". Actually, I don't think he ever really cut a BAD Christmas song ... this music meant a lot to him. (kk)
Speaking of Elvis and his Christmas album, did you catch this exchange from a few weeks back between Forgotten Hits and Ron Smith of
??? Regarding the banning of Elvis Presley from the airwaves on Chicago's own WCFL, Ron said:

I always assumed that the station bosses told any music announcers working for them not to play Elvis. The edict would have kept the jocks from playing Elvis' newly-released Christmas album,which many stations found blasphemous (bandleader Sammy Kaye said that it, “borders on the sacrilegious. Presley has gone too far this time”). A DJ in Portland, Oregon was fired for playing three cuts -- "White Christmas," "O Little Town Of Bethlehem" and "Silent Night"! Dick Whittinghill in Los Angeles wouldn't play the album because he said, it would be "like having [stripper] Tempest Storm give Christmas gifts to my children."

Elvis had played the International Ampitheatre eight months earlier and it wouldn't surprise me if the Chicago Federal of Labor- Industrial Union Council -- owners of the station -- had decided to make hay by getting moralistic and banning the King altogether. Of course, if anyone had actually listened to the album they would have heard perfectly respectful versions of the gospel tunes "Peace In The Valley," "It Is No Secret What God Can Do" and "Take My Hand Precious Lord."

Of all the stations in town who could have banned Elvis, it's true that WCFL hurt him probably the least. I'm sure the Colonel laughed about it all the way to the bank. And when Elvis was drafted by the Army a few months later and served his country overseas, everything blew over.

And, just to show you how far we've come -- London's Daily Mail newspaper will include a free CD of 15 of Elvis' Christmas tunes in next Sunday's paper:

-- Ron Smith

>>>I hadn't heard "Driving Home For Christmas" until this past week ... but it's already received over three million YouTube views so I guess I'm pretty late to the party! Great track, though ... listening to it again as I'm typing this! (In fact, they just played it AGAIN on the Comcast Holiday Music Channel, too! Yep, I like this one!) kk
Comcast (cable TV subscriber) offers a variety of music channels. The lowest decade of music offered is the '70's. Everything else is classified as "Oldies" on one channel, little '50's it seems. This is what Music Choice, via Comcast, offers. Even Music choice mentions what CD the song is from. But it's difficult for me to believe any (commercial) radio station can survive playing pre '70's music exclusively without heavy financial support. I'd be shocked to find one as HD Radio. The demand isn't there; I've watched too many fail. Most of what I hear on (NJ and surrounding) radio is 2-3 hour specialty shows, nothing continuous for pre '70's music. And most of what I can make of it is songs I don't even recognize, and I thought I had a good handle on Top 40. Maybe one too many internet radio shows caused '50's - '60's music a premature death. Personally, I enjoy a variety of music, but one too many obscure songs bores me.
P.S. Your blog states the '60's; you ever going to change that?

I don't think Internet Radio killed the '50's and '60's ... in many cases, it's the best (and sometimes ONLY) place to hear it! I truly believe there's room out there for ALL of this music ... we just can't seem to find anybody willing to give it an honest shot.
As for the website(s), they probably both need some updating ... but I barely have the time to post NEW stuff, let alone fix OLD stuff. For the first eight or nine years, the Forgotten Hits Newsletter went out via my screen name The60sShop. I finally "retired" that name a few years ago because some on the list found it "confusing" ... wanting to know why "Forgotten Hits" wasn't simply coming out as "Forgotten Hits" ... so we started the websites under the Forgotten Hits name and it's been that way ever since.
As you can see, we cover the full gamut here ... '50's, '60's, '70's, '80's ... and now even BRAND NEW Christmas Music, in some cases even before RADIO plays it!!! (See John, we've become a force to be reckoned with!!! lol) kk

Hi to all my friends in the Oldies community ...
My "Santa's Stuck Up In The Chimney" You Tube video has now crossed the 200,000 views mark. This season it's been getting over 2,000 hits a day.
The popularity of the video keeps me believing in the magic of the season.
Hey - you never know!
Paul Evans
PS Dee Jays ... Need an air-worthy Mp3 of the track? Just ask!
Great news, Paul! Seems like radio should have picked up on this one by now ... although I know a few of the jocks on the list have been playing it! (kk)

Scott Shannon played it today.
Atlanta recently dropped The True Oldies Channel and opted for yet another 'classic rock' station. Like we don't already have a gracious plenty and not one is worth listening to. The fans of the TOC and Scott Shannon are completely undone. I pray that Scott finds a way to get back on the air in Atlanta. We're all so miserable without our daily TOC / Michael Scott Shannon fix.
I have listened at work this week although we are not supposed to. I fiercely miss listening in my car, too. The only other options for listening are way beyond anything I can afford so if I get busted for listening at work - I'll go through withdrawals AGAIN and it is not a pretty sight!
I do enjoy your website and Scott Shannon mentions you frequently. I'm sure I subscribed to your page because I heard it on the TOC.
Take good care and Merry Christmas.
Nancy in Atlanta

We've heard from a number of jocks who've been playing selections from our Christmas List on the air since we kicked off The Forgotten Hits Twelve Days Of Christmas (wrapping up next week). But getting Scott Shannon to play a few is a MAJOR feather in our caps as he beams out to nearly 100 radio stations all over the country. GREAT to see some of this brand new music getting a chance to be heard. Thanks again to all of the artists who have made Forgotten Hits THE place to launch their brand new holiday offerings ... WE LOVE IT!!! (kk)