The Explanation
(for those who require one)

And, of course, that is what all of this is -- all of this: the one song, ever changing, ever reincarnated, that speaks somehow from and to and for that which is ineffable within us and without us, that is both prayer and deliverance, folly and wisdom, that inspires us to dance or smile or simply to go on, senselessly, incomprehensibly, beatifically, in the face of mortality and the truth that our lives are more ill-writ, ill-rhymed and fleeting than any song, except perhaps those songs -- that song, endlesly reincarnated -- born of that truth, be it the moon and June of that truth, or the wordless blue moan, or the rotgut or the elegant poetry of it. That nameless black-hulled ship of Ulysses, that long black train, that Terraplane, that mystery train, that Rocket '88', that Buick 6 -- same journey, same miracle, same end and endlessness."
-- Nick Tosches, Where Dead Voices Gather

The 12 Discs of Christmas 2008 #6

The Goons-I'm Walking Backwards for Christmas
(Decca EP DFE 6396; 1957)

Sung by Spike Milligan, I'm Walking Backwards for Christmas was known to me for years only as a tune performed on an episode of the BBC's The Goon Show, but I was very pleased to come across a genuine studio recording a few years back, first on a Goon songs compilation and later scoring the original Decca EP with the picture sleeve (featured in our Stacks O' Wax series back in 2005).

The song originated as a bit of impromptu nonsense (of course) by Milligan when he had to fill for time on a pair of 1956 episodes--The Great Tuscan Salami Scandal and The Treasure in the Lake/a.k.a. The Treasure of Loch Lomond--due to a musicians strike, and the absence of regulars harmonica whiz Max Geldray and singer Ray Ellington. The popularity of the show was such that an official release was a must, hence this recording, made "with Nick Rauchen conducting the Ball's Pond Road near 'The One-in-Harmony'."

The song has become more readily available in recent years, thanks to its appearance on a handful of compilation CDs. In 2003, residents in the Australian town of Woy Woy planned to celebrate their love of the song and the Goons by walking backwards in a parade through the town, but the town council feared potential lawsuits if anyone injured themselves by walking backwards, so the members of the 300-strong parade had to wear their clothes backwards whilst actually walking forwards.

Ying Tong merrily on high.


Wally said...

Thanks about ten million for putting this up.

I'm going to put my nerdy Goon-fanboy stuff in the middle here: That's not Eccles' voice that Milligan's doing in "Walking Backwards.." If it's anything, it's Webster Smogpule!

And then I will take off my nerd hat and close by once again thanking you for spreading the Goonery!

swac said...

Webster, eh? That's what I get for uploading it without giving it a proper listen...

swac said...

Okay, this is beyond weird...10 minutes after my previous post, the local CBC Radio weekend morning show played I'm Walking Backwards for Christmas.

Next thing you know I'll be stricken with spon...or a batter pudding.