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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