It’s official: The Christmas holiday season is under way. Although many tried to push it forward, I don’t think you can begin to celebrate Christmas until Santa Claus makes his way into New York’s Herald Square during the big Thanksgiving parade.
The radio stations that change format during the holiday season are now playing Christmas favorites on the radio.
I find it interesting that stations will play artists like Andy Williams, Dean Martin and even Gene Autry at this time of year.
Autry retired from show business 48 years ago and died in 1998. His biggest hit, “Rudolph, the Red-nosed Reindeer,” was an accident. It was recorded as a throwaway flipside to “Here Comes Santa Claus,” a song Autry wrote.
But every year, radio stations do the electronic equivalent of dusting off their Gene Autry records.
Little Brenda Mae Tarpley, better known as Brenda Lee, will turn 68 this year. She was 13 when she recorded “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” which is one of the classic Christmas tunes. Incidentally, Johnny Marks, who also wrote the Rudolph song, wrote it.
Most of the Christmas songs we hear this time of year are a half-century old or older, but we sure love them.
I don’t know if there is really any “new” Christmas music. I haven’t heard anything by Justin Bieber or Taylor Swift that has the makings of a Christmas classic.
There are only so many Christmas songs and stations even throw in a few awful ones along the way.
The worst all-time Christmas song is the horrendous “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer. A guy named Elmo and his wife, Patsy, recorded it. According to the best information I can find, Elmo holds a degree in veterinary medicine from Auburn and made a bunch of money from recording that annoying song.
It is followed closely by the dogs barking “Jingle Bells” and the Harry Simeone Chorale singing “The Little Drummer Boy.” There are people in this world who are convinced that the whole drummer boy thing is in the Bible. I am pretty sure it is somewhere near the verses that say “Cleanliness is next to Godliness” and “God helps those that help themselves.”
The only thing worse that the Simeone version is the one recorded by William Hung, the horrible contestant that somehow became famous from “American Idol.”
It is followed closely by a version recorded by Johnny Cash. Cash never sang a better song than “Ring of Fire,” but I find myself wanting to jump into the aforementioned ring when I hear him sing about the drummer boy.
While I’m on the subject of bad, the worst Christmas album cover belongs to the Ray Charles album, “The Spirit of Christmas.” It was a great injustice to a blind man. The cover features Ray, wearing a blue dinner jacket with a blue tuxedo shirt standing in a sleigh. All that is seen is the back end of the horse and Ray looks like a fool.
I hope the guy who made that picture gets run over by a reindeer driven by a little drummer boy.
Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear on the Sunday Life page and on gainesvilletimes.com/harris.