Saturday, December 21, 2013

C'est Noel, Part 12 (Tracks 31-32)

Here are a couple of thoughts about the next two tracks from my latest holiday mix, C'est Noel:

Track 32
Happy Holiday, by Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gormé (1964)
Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gormé
Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gormé were most popular with folks a couple of generations before me, and I can't say I know an awful lot about them or their music. I know them more as cultural icons, thanks to their appearances on shows like The Nanny and satirical bits about them like Phil Hartman's 1991 Sinatra Group sketch on Saturday Night Live. Nevertheless, the news of Eydie's passing pained me. Since her marriage to Steve in 1957 the two were practically inseparable, and they seemed to love working together. I've enjoyed what music of theirs I've heard, and they've certainly released a prodigious amount of great Christmas music. For this year's mix, I chose their version of "Happy Holiday," which was written by Irving Berlin and first performed by Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire in the 1942 film Holiday Inn. In the movie, the song was performed on New Year's Eve, and the lyrics are sufficiently vague so that it could actually be sung on almost any holiday and still work. But it's come to be seen as a Christmas song, and it's usually presented as "Happy Holiday" instead of "Happy Holidays" to emphasize the identification with Christmas alone.

Track 31
Christmas Is for the Children, by David Frost (1970)
David Frost and Richard Nixon

I can remember when David Frost's talk show first started to air in the United States, and for awhile here, he was a huge success. This was the late 1960s, and Frost was showing up the likes of Merv Griffin and Mike Douglas. I remember at the time that my mother and the other stay-at-home moms in the neighborhood were especially keen on him, and somehow I associated a British accent with popularity and success. Frost didn't stay on top for long, but his career enjoyed a definite resurgence in 1977 when he scored a major interview deal with former President Richard M. Nixon and managed to get the former president to acknowledge that he'd let the country down. Frost died this summer at the age of 74, and in his honor I added a little snippet he recorded in 1970 about a fellow hotel guest he'd met whose words and actions on the subject of Christmas are at odds with one another.

(Some people have reported problems listening to the SoundCloud clip, above. If you can't hear it, try clicking HERE.)

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