OPINION

‘I Yust Go Nuts at Christmas’ and other merry melodies

Staff Writer
Story City Herald

—by Bill Haglund

Every year, about this time, nearly every radio station in America drops its normal programming format and fills the air with festive tunes to fit the season.

There have almost always been carols sung in homes, churches, businesses, street corners and anywhere else people gather.

And, I’m here to tell you that much of the music we all hear today was created during my generation. Whoever enjoys the music, on behalf of those of my age, I say “You’re Welcome!”

Let’s face it, Christmas music became a little jollier in America after World War II ended and one of those first catchy tunes after the war was “Here Comes Santa Claus,” which was recorded and released by America’s favorite cowboy, Gene Autry, who followed that up in 1950 with “Frosty the Snowman,” and those songs remain as two Christmas classics even today. “Frosty the Snowman” became so popular that it even spawned a half-hour cartoon that has since had color added and is shown on television every December – in fact, my wife and I watched it just last week and thoroughly enjoyed being hauled back to our younger years.

While we all enjoy some of the more serious tunes of the season, more than a few novelty tunes have been recorded and still make us smile.

Spending my first years in and around the Swedish community of Stratford, I was right in the midst of enjoying some early Christmases when old Yorge Yorgesson got in the holiday spirit with a pair of songs in 1949. One was “Oh, I Yust Go Nuts at Christmas” and the other big hit was “Yingle Bells.” Naturally, I thought that if I could imitate old Yorge, I could also be a hit around family gatherings. I guess at one time, I was pretty good with my imitation because for years and years I’d be asked to sing my rendition of those two songs.

Maybe, though, I’m just imagining my stardom.

Another big early novelty song was 1948’s “All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth” by Spike Jones. (Twenty years later, Homer and Jethro sang “All I Want for Christmas is My Upper Plate.”)

Of course, there were plenty of more serious songs that came out in the 1950s … songs like “Silver Bells” in 1950 and “There’s No Place Like Home for the Holidays.” One of the first songs to come out in the ‘50s was “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” in 1951.

When Rock ‘n Roll swept the nation during my teenage years, it was only natural that some of the first Christmas rock songs came to be. My parents, and I’m sure others, were at first disgusted that we would actually dance to Christmas music. But, there was little else to do when Bobby Helms released “Jingle Bell Rock” in 1957 and Brenda Lee followed up with “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” a year later. Chuck Berry got into the Christmas swing of things with “Run, Rudolph, Run” in 1958.

Naturally, parents all over were appalled when Elvis did a rock rendition of “Blue Christmas.”

The first big novelty song of the 1950s, I believe, was “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” by Jimmy Boyd in 1952, and a year later “Santa Baby” was sung by sultry-voiced Eartha Kitt.

Before the decade ended, the biggest Christmas novelty song, perhaps of all time, became a standard when David Seville recorded “The Chipmunk Song.” Everyone, old and young, went around yelling “Alvin!” at the top of their lungs. Even my Grandpa Charlie would, out of the blue, yell “Alvin!” and burst out laughing.

A few strictly country songs also came out and a couple of the more notable ones are Jim Reeves’ 1963 hit, (“There’s) An Old Christmas Card,” and Buck Owens’ 1965 hit “Santa Looked a Lot Like Daddy.”

With the Vietnam War dividing the nation, it was natural, too, that Christmastime would find a war-time protest, like the 1966 “Please, Uncle Sam, Send Back My Man” by the Charmels.

Burl Ives had a catchy tune in 1964 when he recorded “Have a Holly Jolly Christmas,” but a couple of our favorite rock Christmas tunes were recorded by The Beach Boys (didn’t we all want to live on a beach back then?) when they recorded “Little St. Nick” in 1963 and “The Man With All The Toys” in 1964. Surprisingly, even my son, obviously from another generation, said he searched flea markets for months in search of that particular Beach Boys album, and he found it.

You can say “Happy Holidays,” or “Season’s Greetings.” As for me, I’ll say “Merry Christmas” and remind you, as legendary Iowa singer Andy Williams so melodically put it in 1965 … “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.”

(Bill Haglund is a retired staff writer for the Boone News-Republican and Dallas County News. He can be reached at bhaglund13@msn.com)