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 #7



Mae Questel - I Want You for Christmas (Decca 1544; 1937)

If I was more organized, I'd have realized that I Want You for Christmas by Mae Questel, sung in her Betty Boop prime in 1937, was already on the Merry Swacmas 2009 compilation I posted on Christmas Day last year, but having already uploaded the tune and a photo of Betty in Toyland, taken from the Fleischer brothers' 1933 cartoon Parade of the Wooden Soldiers, I figured there was no harm in sharing the song as an individual track.

This fetching tune was written by Sam H. Stept with lyrics by Ned Washington and Charles Tobias, and was also recorded by Russ Morgan and Dick Robertson. (More recently it was recorded by Toronto jazz siren Alex Pangman for her CD Christmas Gift.) Stept and Tobias also co-wrote Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree, while Stept's first big hit, oddly enough, came in the form of the tune That's My Weakness Now, made famous by Helen Kane. As you probably know, it was Kane's bubbly vocal delivery that was the inspiration for Betty Boop's voice and was later the basis of a lawsuit against the Fleischers, which Kane ultimately lost.

Meanwhile, Ned Washington is a name familiar to aficianados of popular song; his lyricist credits include When You Wish Upon a Star, High Noon (Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darlin'), The Nearness of You and Singin' in the Bathtub (which became the basis for the first Warner Brothers theatrical cartoon, Sinkin' in the Bathtub).

In case you're wondering what the A-side was, it's In Our Little Wooden Shoes, taken from 20th Century Fox's production of Heidi, starring Shirley Temple.

1 comment :

Timmy said...

How charming. thank you!