Episode 62–Almost Christmas

Click here for a transcript of this show.

It’s the holiday season, and that means that radio stations have moved a bunch of traditional songs into their rotations. Some of them have even gone All-Christmas-All-The-Time. But it seems as though some of these songs don’t stand up to closer scrutiny as Christmas songs. They’re set in the winter time, but they don’t appear to mention Christmas at all, or they happen to take place during the season but that’s about it.

And while I’m complaining about Christmas songs that don’t stand up to scrutiny, have you really listened to Andy Williams’ “Happy Holiday (The Holiday Season)”? Sometimes I think poor Andy had a stroke in the middle of recording that one. It’s little more than a bunch of clichés strung together, and then he loses his mind and starts spouting nonsense lyrics, and failing miserably to make them rhyme. I’m going to blame Kay Thompson for this mess, because there’s no way Irving Berlin is responsible.

And don’t get me started (again) on “My Favorite Things.”

During the show I mentioned a short cartoon version of “Frosty the Snowman” that’s aired every Christmas season since 1955 on WGN-TV in Chicago. Here’s that clip for your listening pleasure:

And while I’m providing extra goodies, here, also as promised, is the audio of Wally Schirra reporting a “UFO” in December of 1965.

When I was in the third grade I sent a letter to NASA, and they sent me a packet of stuff, including photos of astronauts on the moon, a photo of Earth taken from space, and a flyer with frequently-asked questions about outer space. I remember distinctly that one of the questions was about whether the astronauts had ever seen a UFO, and the answer was that Wally Schirra had reported a UFO that turned out to be Santa Claus. I presume they were referring to this event.

At any rate, the episode has been available for a little while now, but if you’re the DIY sort you may want to download or listen here:

I’m likely to be out of town next weekend, so it’s possible that I’ll be taking a week off from the show. Next time around we finish Shel Silverstein for sure, and then I have a listener-suggested episode.

Have a great holiday! Thanks so much for your support!

6 thoughts on “Episode 62–Almost Christmas”

  1. Hark The Herald Angels Sing-the music was written by Felix Mendelssohn in celebration of the 400th anniversary of the Gutenberg press. Charles Wesley put the words to it. Some asked Mendelssohn if he minded if words were put to it and he said “I don’t care as long as it’s not religious.”

    1. Whoa–that’s pretty jerkstore. Do you have a citation? I can’t find that story.

      My research says that Mendelssohn wasn’t strictly opposed to religious music (in fact, part of the Gutenberg Cantata is a specific thanks to God), but he didn’t think this particular piece was suited to it. I imagine part of his resistance would also be related to the fact that he was baptized as a Christian and would be considered a compliant follower, but he did have some Jewish ancestry of which he was proud.

    1. Thanks for following up!

      That story pretty much tracks with what I found: he wasn’t so much opposed to it, he just didn’t think the Festgesang made for good sacred music. (I love his description of the tune as “soldierlike and buxom”!)

  2. I did find the QI but I can’t find a link. It was the series P for ‘Pubs’ and their Christmas show.

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