Ruby Wright - Merry, Merry, Merry, Merry Xmas (Fraternity Records F-787; 1957)
After a lengthy hiatus away from the Gunslinger, it seemed there'd be no better way to get back in the saddle than with a dose of Christmas spirit, and what can I say, I'm a sucker for tradition. I figured I'd start this year's seasonal series with a song that had eluded me for years, although it just turns out I hadn't been looking very hard. Like many others I had heard Merry, Merry, Merry, Merry Xmas a number of times via viewings of John Waters' 1974 juvenile delinquent rampage Female Trouble. The song is featured prominently when Divine's Dawn Davenport runs away from home, after ruining Christmas for her parents, who simply don't understand the importance of a stylish pair of cha-cha heels to a young woman on the verge of adulthood. This jaunty, jingley ditty is a bright counterpoint to the sight of Dawn's mother crushed by a fir tree only seconds before, and I figured the tune would show up eventually on a compilation of some sort. But even when Waters himself got around to crafting his own Christmas album, the song was mysteriously absent. Time to go digging.
It turns out the song I'd been searching for was written by Cincinnati TV pioneer Ruth Lyons who hosted the live 50/50 Club daily chat show from 1949 until her retirement from the screen in 1967. Lyons and her program's musical cast recorded two Christmas albums, 1957's Ten Tunes of Christmas and 1963's It's Christmastime Again, which were both regional hits wherever her show was broadcast. The Ruby Wright vocal on the record is the one used by Waters in Female Trouble, but the song and its B-side, Let's Light the Christmas Tree were also covered by the lovely Lennon Sisters of The Lawrence Welk Show fame. I still prefer the original version though, the Lennons make it sound just a little too smooth. (I'd love to have a copy of their single Outer Space Santa, though.)