It's Christmas at CHIRP Radio, and we're looking for a cure for the common carol. Instead of bending to the will of the average 24-hour holiday muzak stations, we're spending the season unearthing a bunch of winter-approved tunes that you probably haven't heard for a while (or maybe even ever). Today: Lambert, Hendricks, and Ross celebrate Christmas the Walt Kelly way.
Lambert, Hendricks, and Ross - "Deck Us All With Boston Charlie" (1962)
Christmas carols thrive on tradition, with the best ones earning (or steadily worming) their way into the seasonal canon by sheer repetition. For a guy like Walt Kelly, that made them fair game for a little good-natured scrutiny. As he so often did as the creator of Pogo, Kelly combined his distrust of complacency with deftness at wordplay to ask his readers a simple question: have you ever given any thought to the words of those songs you sing? The animals of the Okeefenokee Swamp did, making up for their lack of an authorized hymnal by cobbling together words for a tongue-twisting soundalike version of "Deck The Halls," here recreated by jazz vocal trio Lambert, Hendricks, and Ross on the 1962 compilation Jingle Bell Jazz. As a folk solution, it's great; this new version gives us alluring nonsense like "don't we know archaic barrel" or "tizzy seas on melon collie" while retaining, if not amplifying, the tune's original cheer. As a sociological statement, it's pretty fun, too; at the very least, it might make you appreciate the other lyrics that you've come to know, love, and take for granted. Kelly did this with other Christmas songs, too, which must've made for some disorienting holiday concerts for the swamp's out-of-town visitors.