Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Here Comes Santa Claus, Part 6

My annual holiday mix for for 2012 is called Here Comes Santa Claus, and I'm currently sending it out to family and friends as my annual holiday greeting. Among other things, I started this blog to share background information and other thoughts about the material I choose to be on each year's CD, and this year's review is well underway. So far, we've looked at Tracks 1-14, and today the spotlight shines on Tracks 15 and 16.

Track 16
Holiday Greetings from Newt and Callista Gingrich (2011)
Newt and Callista Gingrich
I'm told that I can sometimes come across as a rather serious-minded kind of guy to people who don't really know me. Frankly, I find that extremely disturbing. Just kidding. Actually, it probably makes it easier for me to pull the legs of folks I've only recently met, because few people expect to be tricked by someone so somber and serious-minded  at least not right away. Besides, it's always fun to keep people guessing. I've had a number of people ask about particular songs from previous holiday CDs I've put together  for example, the songs by William Hung, Red Sovine and Johnny "Bowtie" Barstow. Are these songs I actually like, or did I include them as . . . well, you know  as a joke? I'm not sure I want to address that subject in full just yet. (If you think about if for a few seconds the answer ought to be pretty clear. I mean, I may come across as serious, but I don't think I come across as totally deaf!) Similarly, it shouldn't be too hard to figure out whether I included this very pleasant-sounding greeting from one of Washington's most influential power couples as a tribute to their selfless contributions to the nation, or . . . well, you know  as a joke. I've certainly never agreed with Mr. Gingrich about very much, although I do share his commitment to the space program. I can't say he's someone I respect an awful lot, either, although there were moments in this year's primary campaign when I was happy to watch him knock the others around a bit, especially Mitt Romney. Newt and his wife look as though they could be fun companions at dinner, although I'm not sure how much I'd enjoy the meal because I'd be nervous trying to figure out what they were trying to weasel out of me. I'd certainly find some reason to leave before they finished their dessert. She just plain scares me to death.

Track 15
Jingle Bells, The Blues Magoos (1967)
Originally from the Bronx, The Blues Magoos would probably have to be considered a "one hit wonder" kind of band. They've always seemed a little too substantial to me to qualify for that dubious distinction, but they only released two original studio albums and only really had one hit  (We Ain't Got) Nothin' Yet, which climbed as high as #5 on Billboard's Hot 100 in February 1967 back when "I'm a Believer" by The Monkees topped the charts. Still, they're considered by some to have been in the vanguard of the psychedelic rock movement, or at least that movement's East Coast contingent, and they have the distinction of opening for The Who and Herman's Hermits at the first real concert Bruce Springsteen ever attended. At their height, according to the great Lenny Kaye, the Magoos "used to come out on stage wearing Diana Dew-designed electric suits, which they could light at will as the tension grew." I'm not sure what sort of tension might have been involved in a 1967 New York psychedelic rock show, but light-up suits could have probably calmed the crowds at Altamont, had they only been invited. Anyway, this track was released as a single in 1967 by Mercury Records in time for the holiday season, with Santa Claus Is Coming To Town as the B-side. I almost used the B-side on this year's mix instead, but the group seems to have put more of themselves into their version of "Jingle Bells." And, who knows? There's always next year.

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