Friday, December 19, 2008

Jingle Bells: Deck Us All With Boston Charlie

My wife and I were talking about upcoming themes on Starmaker, and I mentioned that we would probably be doing some kind of holiday theme soon. She said, “Wouldn’t it be funny if someone had recorded ‘Deck Us All With Boston Charlie?’” Of course this was impossible, and I thought no more about it. Then, this week’s theme was announced. I went to Amazon’s download store, and searched for “bells”. After sifting through the start of the over 2000 hits for tunes I might want to post, I came up with enough possible selections, and decided to go link-hopping, seeking unusual Christmas albums. After only a couple of jumps, what to my wondering eyes should appear but this little gem. And by Lambert, Hendricks and Ross, no less! Then, I listened to the snippet, and it got even better. I heard bells! And now, you will too.

Lambert, Hendricks and Ross: Deck Us All With Boston Charlie


The lyrics come from the classic comic strip Pogo, which debuted in the New York Sun in1948, and ran first there and later in national syndication, until 1973. Pogo was created by Walt Kelley, and was distinguished by its use of political satire. Pogo could be read by the younger members of its audience as pure absurdity, but there was also an additional layer of humor for adult readers to enjoy. Pogo strips published near Christmas often featured bizarre new lyrics for familiar carols

Jon Hendricks, Dave Lambert, and Annie Ross were three jazz singers who got together in 1957. As Lambert, Hendricks and Ross, they set original lyrics to well-loved instrumental jazz numbers, even singing the original solos note for note. This approach to jazz singing is called vocalese, and it is a style that they pioneered. The song “Twisted”, heard at the end of Joni Mitchell’s album Court and Spark, was originally the work of Lambert, Hendricks and Ross.

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