Sunday, December 18, 2011

Embarrassing Christmas Confession

Oh God, help! I'm eating one of my Espresso Crinkles, fresh out of the oven; and the powdered sugar is choking me!  Koff!  Koff!

Simon was never into Christmas Music.  We didn't listen to it when he was home.  I actually have some cool Christmas mixes, courtesy of my friend Robert; so I was listening to those today.  But my embarrassing Christmas confession is that I have a favorite album that I wouldn't inflict upon ANYONE (except my kids).  This one.
"Winter Wonderland," by The Ray Charles Singers
Oh, no.  Not THAT Ray Charles. Because that would be cool, and this is really, really un-cool.  I think  that this may be called "lounge music" today.  In 1956, when it came out, this was, like, Christmas booty-call music.  Moooooooood music.  Mom told me it was the first record she and Dad bought after they were married.  It has a very dated-sounding chorus of about 10 people, accompanied by piano, guitar, drums, accordion (really) and harp (no joke).

Here we go!  Sing along with Kate.

The snow is snowing.
The wind is blowing
But I will wea-ther the storm! [All the voices climb way up high, then the men drop down one tone at a time.] [Sto-o-o-o-o-rm!] 
What do I care how much it may storm?
I've got my love to keep me warm.

[Time for the verse. Just the men.]

All summer I'll be playin'
out on the tennis court. [Men make "plonking" noises, or, like, "clip-clop" noises with their tongues.  That's supposed to be the tennis ball.  Get it?] [A woman's voice in the background calls out "Love, forty!"]
But in the winter?
Just like the groundhog I'll turn into an indoor sport.

Here's another one that kills me.

Win-ter, win-ter when the snowflakes start a'fallin'.
That's the time to squeeeeeze:  [Big slide up]
When it starts to freeze,
in October and November and De-cem-ber [slowing down]
just remember.

It repeats that same bit several times, then the men go into this descant.

This is nothin' Santa sent.
She's my heating element.
Come and meet my lady radiator. [YES!  They really say "lady radiator"!]
Would I guild a lily?
Mister, don't be silly.
I will not be chilly
In the wintertime!

I will have you know that I was able to slap down all these lyrics without a second thought, 'cause I have been listening to this record since forever.  I can remember when I was very small (Kindergarten or younger), lying on the living room sofa in the dark, lit only by the Christmas tree.  I would lie there all peaceful and dreamy, gazing at the tree while Mom got dinner ready, and listen to this record. 

The real thing must be long gone.  I have it on CD.  Dad made it for me maybe 15 years ago, burning the disc from the turntable.  Which means that it starts with the needle contacting the record.  And since this record had already endured more than 40 years of hard use, all of the original pops and hisses are there, along with the big skip in the middle of "Button Up Your Overcoat".

Watch the influenza [doo-doo-doo-doo-doo-doo]
Cause influenza sends a [doo-doo-doo-doo-doo-doo]
Influenza sends a
Fellow to the doctor for a shot!

[Two startling, percussive blasts on the accordion!  Blahp! Blahp!]

[And another one, even bigger!  BLAHP!]

Watch the streptococcus.
Don't let the streptococcus rock us.  [Would I lie to you?]
Baby watch yourself
at all times,
and until the temperature climbs....

Button up your overcoat,
When the wind is free.
Take good care of yourself!
You belooooooong toooooo meeeeee!

1 comment:

  1. I LOVE this album and grew up listening to it and other like the Johnny Mathis one! I just got a CD version although, its not the same....carefully putting that needle down, hearing the speaker connect and anticipating all the crinkly static from the vinyl...then music. It was like music and alchemy and the smell of the tree...
    I think you need to listen to "June in January" now...its so perfect.