This week in my little corner of the universe I got walloped with a big dose of nostalgia. Every year the Rotary Club comes up our street collecting for Christmas. They have Father Christmas on the back of a float, Christmas music, lots of lights and a small army of charity collectors waving collecting tins on peoples’ doorsteps. I always like to contribute as one year my late mother-in-law was surprised with a gift from the Rotary Club which thrilled her no end! It’s nice to think that my little donation will help make somebody very happy this Christmas.
I grew up in a very musical household, both parents played the guitar as did all four of my brothers. My grandmother could also sing and play the mandolin. Sadly none of that rubbed off on me and I am essentially tuneless, but I grew up listening to the songs my parents sang and they knew many of the songs popular in the 1940s and 50s. One tune we would hear was ‘All I want for Christmas (is my two Front Teeth)’, I suspect, although not confirmed, that it was sung to each of my siblings in turn as they lost their baby teeth and then the grandchildren and great-grandchildren, too.
Back to this year, and yesterday I was surprised when the Rotary Club member knocked on my door, waving his tin, for it was still November (the 30th, but still . . .). I donated as usual and ran out to get a quick snap of the event – and even managed a brief recording, take a listen . . .
The song ‘All I want for Christmas (is my Two Front Teeth)’ was being played and it was a blast from the past.
The song was written in 1944 by Donald Yetter Gardner (20 August 1913 – 15 September 2004), a music teacher and textbook editor. He had to select a song for the second grade children to sing at a Christmas event. He asked each of the children in turn and they all began ‘all I want for Christmas . . . ’, after making them laugh, he then noticed that 16 out of 22 children were missing one or more of their front teeth and this made them lisp.
In 1948, the song was plucked from the school pageant by Witmark Music Company. It was recorded for Christmas by Spike Jones and his City Slickers, with suitably childlike vocals by George Rock. It reached number one in the pop music charts in 1949.
I’ve attached three versions to this post, the original Spike Jones version, the Nat King Cole version and one with Michael Buble and Elmo, because doesn’t everyone love a bit of Buble?
Spike Jones and his City Slickers (1948)
Nat King Cole version
Michael Buble and Elmo
Do you love or loathe novelty Christmas songs?
Do any songs bring back nostalgic memories of the Christmases of your childhood?