Musical Chairs

Posted on December 25, 2009 – 7:31 PM | by OldManFoster
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santa_claus.jpg (JPEG Image, 1024x768 pixels)Ole Saint Nick has been at the heart of the yuletide season for centuries but he has really come into his own in the last 150 years or so.  Saint Nick is a truly international figure in the Christmas scene, and MidMo is proud to present his musings on holiday music.

Ok, I need to start by saying that I’m writing this in July (sort of our slow season up here at the pole) so if I seem a bit dodgy on some of my seasonal references it’s because I’m working so far in advance, not because of alzheimers or some other such nonsense.  You may have heard rumors of my decline, but that’s a bunch of sour milk, I tell you what.  I can still lick any man half my age.

So on to the matter at hand.  I have very fond memories of yuletide music going back to the so-called ‘middle ages’ (middle of what?  I never got that) but for the purposes here I think I’ll stick to the era of recorded music, what would that be?.. after 1915 A.D., I think?  You are on the Anno Domini schedule here, right? None of that Greek orthodox business to worry about, right?  Again, I can remember plenty of beautiful music from before electrification… there was one batch of kids in Paris back about 1900 who used to get up a choir each Christmas and sing all night long- I’d start to hear them when I was clear out in the 20th arrondissement.  Sounded like angels, and oh they knew how to put out a spread- no stale milk and cookies there- they’d leave me an Ortolan and a glass of 1811 Cognac.  Most of them died at Verdun- damn shame.

Anyway, so I can never keep my victrola working- those damned elves can fix or build anything they want to, but they’re always on to the newest thing, like an iPhone or Xbox or some damn thing, so they don’t like working on my old stuff.  I think they last time I played a 78 was about 1976 when I decided to listen to a Cheap Suit Serenaders record some kid had on his wish list.  That record was filthy, unspeakably filthy and I certainly wouldn’t recommend it here.  It’s not even a Christmas song.   But that was the last time I played a 78 and then after that the victrola was on the fritz and I haven’t been able to get the elves to work on it since.  They just built me an 8 Track player and told me to ‘get with it.’

PeggyRecords150It’s a shame, because I used to love listening to “Winter Weather” by Peggy Lee and I never did get a copy on 8 Track.  Oh, she was just tremendous!  She was just starting out- I remember when I first heard that song I thought to myself, ‘well there’s gal who can sing a song,’ and was I right!  This was back in the forties when she had just signed on with Benny Goodman, I liked him fine too, but he never did better than when he had her around.  Of course she sang and sang for years, but I’ll always like that song the best, you know, first impressions and all.

Another record I used to listen to back then was “The Christmas Song.” You know, with a title like that it was bound to catch my interest, like they’d made that record just for me.  Hell, I still listen to it now, not on 78 of course, because I’ve got that problem, but Mrs. Claus got it for me on CD a few years ago and it’s been swell hearing it again.  I think a lot of people hear that song on the radio, but our reception is for sh** up here (can I say that?), so I only get the radio when I’m out on delivery and then I can’t really concentrate.  But I like that song.  That Nat King Cole can sing and I was really sorry when he got the cancer.  I really felt awful when he went- I’d always made sure to drop a few extra cartons of Kools (that was his brand) in his stocking, and now I think ‘that sure probably didn’t help,’ but who knew back then?  Not me, it came as a real shock.

Nat King Cole frontThere was a lot of nonsense in the fifties- that Chipmunk thing- oh it was cute for a few months, but if I never heard that song again I’d be OK.  I’d be better than OK, probably.  But you know the song that I got to like from back then I just never heard until later.  That Chuck Berry (an unspeakably filthy man by the way, have you heard about those movies he made? One of the elves showed me that on the internet and I had to let him go after that- can’t have that around here.  But that said, he does play the guitar nice) made a song called “Run Rudolph Run” that I just think is tremendous.  He didn’t actually write the song, he got it off the guy who wrote “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer”  (which is nice, but a little shmaltzy for my taste) and he sure made it his own.  I really wonder if he was a pervert back then too?  It doesn’t sound like it, but I don’t know that you can hear that sort of thing in a man’s voice. But I didn’t actually hear that song until the seventies… I thought it was new- sounded new to me, and it was sure better than the hogwash that they tried to pass off as music in those days.  Have you ever heard of a group called Uriah Heap?  Who listens to that?  I think it was all the drugs.

chuckrunI’m starting to run out of space here, probably just room for one more, so I’ll get up to the sixties at least.  There were few songs I liked a lot back then.  I sure liked that “Santa Claus Go Straight to the Ghetto” song… I was real concerned about the civil rights thing back at that time- you know we didn’t really have the unrest up here since elves all look more or less the same- but oh the letters I’d get from kids back in those days.  Really broke my heart.  So when I heard that song I thought, ‘hey, this James Brown guy is speaking my language,’ but you know, what was I gonna do?  Can you imagine me on a Freedom March?  Not with this belly- ole Santa doesn’t need a heart attack, no sir!  But I did my bit- I delivered quite a few lumps of coal back in those days.  Hell, Strom Thurmond is probably half responsible for global warming if he burned everything I dropped at his place over the years.  What an asshole.  Can I say that?

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