The 12 Discs of Christmas 2010 #9

Sam Ulano - Santa and the Doodle-Li-Boop (MGM K11898; 1955)

Over the past year I've gone from never having heard of this Christmas oddity by drummer Sam "Mr. Rhythm" Ulano to finding out that it's not even the original version. That was recorded a year earlier in 1954 by none other than Art Carney. Unfortunately, I don't have the Carney recording, that YouTube clip will have to suffice, but Ulano's version still has its own charm with the New York drummer adding his own extra oomph on the percussion side.

Ulano's still going at age 90, offering up his instructional books, CDs and videos online. In his heyday he was an in-demand player on the New York scene, often working in TV on shows hosted by Steve Allen, Gary Moore, Ernie Kovacs and Joe Franklin. According to his resume he's also recorded with Moondog and, for one night in 1981, was a member of Public Image Ltd.

The song was written by Alan Abel, perhaps better known as a humourist, master prankster and the man behind the Society for Indecency to Naked Animals (with co-conspirator Buck Henry), which managed to dupe several news agencies into believing it was an actual organization, starting with The Today Show in 1959.

Recently the 80-year-old Abel left this reminiscence about his immortal composition over at Todd Klein's blog:

"I understand 500,000 copies of the 78 rpm were sold in the early 50’s. Station WNEW in New York City played it around the clock, daily a month before Christmas in 1954. Their contest was for listeners to describe a “Doodle-li-boop” and send any amount of money for the Childrens Aid Society. There were hundreds of submissions and thousands of dollars for the charity. New Yorkers were charmed and many annoyed by the constant air plays. In fact I was in a dentist’s chair with mouth filled with cotton and he began to sing the song! He had no idea it was mine and I couldn’t talk. The radio contest ended when a panel of notables, hosted by Marilyn Monroe, selected a sketch of a “Doodle-li-boop” that resembled a milk bottle with a face and feet. Macy’s and Gimbel’s were deluged by customers seeking what they thought was a new toy. But none existed. And so it goes."


Sock MonKey 1 said...

I really appreciate these Xmas tunes. Can you tell me where I could find the track listings for Merry Swacmas 2003-2008? Thanks.

swac said...

Sure Sock, check yer email.

Tim said...

For what it is worth, Sol Yaged (of the name featured on the bass drum head) can be found regularly sitting in with Vince Giordano's Nighthawks at the Edison Hotel in Manhattan every Monday and Tuesday night. Still sounds amazing, blows some great clarinet leads despite being 88 years old / young.

swac said...

That's worth a lot, Tim, thanks for the news. Something to look for next time I'm in the Big Apple.