Hard as it is to believe, I’ve made it to Thanksgiving without hearing a single Christmas carol.
Staying out of shopping malls and department stores helped. So did my daughter’s adamant stance that there’d be no Christmas in her home before Turkey Day.
That saved me during a long-weekend I recently spent with her and her family in Austin, Texas. With his Pop Pop in the house, my 3-year-old grandson, Parker, was pretty sure his mom would cave and let us watch “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” But nothing doing. I respect that.
By the way, for some inexplicable reason, Parker calls the star of that show “Mister” Charlie Brown. I’m guessing it’s the hair.
Greta did allow me to read to him the “A Charlie Brown Christmas” story book I bought at the airport, and I must admit, all the while, the Charlie Brown theme song was playing in my head. How could I help it? But that does not count as actually hearing a Christmas carol. It’s not like I stumbled upon, say, “The Chipmunk Song” playing in a diner.
For the record, I happen to like the Charlie Brown theme. And for more than one reason. For starters, I always associate it with my daughter and my son, Michael. I’ve watched the TV show and video so much with them (Greta is now 36, and Michael 33) that I tend to forget it debuted in 1965. I was a junior in high school then.
While “A Charlie Brown Christmas” may be most memorable for contributing the expression “Charlie Brown Christmas Tree” to the lexicon, it’s the music, especially that theme song, played on a toy piano by Shroeder with all the characters happily dancing, that made the cartoon a Christmas classic.
In one Peanuts cartoon strip, Linus compliments Schroeder’s playing, and he replies that it’s even more difficult than you can imagine “since the black keys are only painted on.” God bless, Shroeder.
Do you know the Charlie Brown theme song, which I am humming as I write, has a title?
It’s “Linus and Lucy.” Or, as Parker says, “Winus and Wucy.”
This song, as well as the entire score of “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” was written by Vince Guaraldi and performed by The Vince Guaraldi Trio. “Christmastime is Here” is another classic from the soundtrack.
Vince Guaraldi, who died in 1976 at only 47 years old, wrote another of my favorite musical pieces, “Cast Your Fate to the Wind.” If you are not familiar with it, track it down on You Tube and you’ll know why.
Rocker Joe Walsh, when he was with the band The James Gang long before he joined The Eagles, did a version of this song on one of his albums.
And he drifted into it during a jam a couple of summers ago when he played at the F.M. Kirby Center. I wondered if I was the only one there who noticed.
I suggest you find Joe Walsh’s version on Your Tube, too.
But wait until the new year.
For now, and for the next month, fill your world with Christmas carols. I know I will.
My love of Vince Guaraldi notwithstanding, I’ll kick off the season today with Johnny Mathis singing “What Child is This?” as only he can, and then treat myself to Bing Crosby and David Bowie teaming up on “Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy.”
This will propel me right into the holiday season.
I do realize I am bound to hear The Chipmunks sooner or later, but, trust me, it won’t be by my own volition.
Ed Ackerman writes The Optimist every week. Look for his blogs online at pittstonprogress.com.