Monday, December 24, 2007

Burl Ives is the Antichrist

100000watts.com informs me that there are 427 radio staitons playing all-xmas today. Inside radio tells me that thsi is slightly less than last year which came in at a total of 431. Music tracking companies like BDS and Mediaguide tell me that Burl Ives classic song "Holly Jolly Christmas" is the most played Christmas song in radio... again.

I do not like Christmas music. Most of it ranges from cheesy to schmaltzy. There are a few punk rock songs that manage to enter the arena mockingly and exit cleanly, but they are few. But worse than laying off your DJs for 6 weeks is trying to do the 50/50 split. Modern pop and rock music does not blend with Christmas classics. I actually heard a CHR/Pop station play the Dean martin version of "Silent Night" immediately after Fergie's original version of "My Humps." I actually heard the Irving Berlin version of "what Christmas" followed by "Freaky Gurl" by some dude named Gucci Mane. It's atrocious. Please stop.

The only upside of Burl is that he's an ex-radio man. He dropped out of school to travel across America in the 1930s like Woody Guthrie; unemployed and unwashed. He did whatever day labor came his way but also played banjo wherever possible. He was actually jailed in Utah for playing a slightly naughty song named Foggy Dew. He took it as a sign and went back to school.

It was 1931 and he enrolled at Indiana State Teachers College (now Indiana State University) in Terre Haute. He worked at a drug store and played a few gigs. Later that year he landed a show on 640 WBOW-AM. It was an affiliate of the ABS Network owned by Samuel Insull. Jay Stewart of American bandstand also spent some time on WBOW. The radio gig didn't last for Burl and he blew town to attend Juliard.

Ten years later after a little fame and growing fortune he returned to radio. Ives began his own radio show on the CBS network called The Wayfaring Stranger. It was named for a popular folk song. he also used the title for his first book, published in 1948. More here.
But, Burl did not write "Holly Jolly Christmas." That "honor" goes to Johnny Marks who also cursed us with "Silver and Gold", "Jingle, Jingle, Jingle," "The Most Wonderful Day of the Year", and "We are Santa’s Elves". Burl was not even the first Troglodyte to record it. That class act was the Quinto sisters. More here.