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 2010 #1


Jerry Colonna gets hep with the kids.


Jerry Colonna - Too Fat for the Chimney (Decca 28884, 1953)

The past year has been a busy one for me, and it's been difficult to keep up with my fellow Gunslingers, but I thought I'd ease back into the swing of things with this annual musical Advent calendar, with a new track each day until Dec. 25. Last year I was only able to post a link to my regular Christmas mix CD, and I can also make the 2010 edition available for anyone who wants it, but I hope having a daily dose of tuneful novelty will make the slouching toward Bethlehem a little more cheerful.

So here's a record that practically defines the notion of a Christmas novelty, Too Fat for the Chimney by Bob Hope's bug-eyed sidekick Gerardo Luigi "Jerry" Colonna, who recorded a number of sides during his career for a variety of labels, including majors like Capitol, Decca and Mercury. This Decca single from 1953 with Paul Sells' orchestra seems tailor-made for Colonna's trademark pitch-defying wail, although it was also recorded by Teresa Brewer and Your Hit Parade's Gisele MacKenzie. The tune was written by Irving Gordon, whose best-known work includes Nat "King" Cole's Unforgettable and the lyrics to Duke Ellington's Prelude to a Kiss, but he clearly had a mischievous streak, as shown by this two-minute slice of madness.

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