(Above: Claudine Longet and Andy Williams. Not pictured: firearms, Spider Sabich.)
I got drawn into one of the new retro TV channels (Get TV) tonight. I am, admittedly, a sucker for old programming. (If they’d run the original ads and dispense with all of the new ones targeted at old people, like catheters, reverse mortgages, etc., I would never leave the house.) The draw tonight? “The Andy Williams Christmas Show,” featuring Lorrie Morgan and the Osmond Brothers along with the entire Williams family. These shows are written about in great detail here. I loved the various Christmas specials as a kid – I preferred the animated ones (looking at you, Charlie Brown) – because these on the TV meant that Santa was coming soon. Despite the warbling of “My Favorite Things” (which is no more a Christmas song than Die Hard is a Christmas movie), it’s a fun trip down memory lane.
Likewise, hearing Andy Williams on the radio today means that Christmas is coming. His 1963 LP The Andy Williams Christmas Album, and the seven LPs that followed it, were hi-fi staples for an entire generation. Even the most tightly programmed all-Christmas radio stations can’t leave Williams off despite their other attempts to make the holiday unlistenable. You can’t go wrong with “Happy Holidays,” a song that was popular well before the perceived War On Christmas(TM) was popularized by cable news networks.
The crown jewel of that album is this one. Any song that makes its own verbs (“mistletoeing” and “jingle-belling”) merits attention. The “scary ghost stories” are out of place, but the rest of it makes sense. What I love about the record is the unabashed bombastic cheesiness. You can NOT hear the song and not feel happy. The shopping may be behind schedule, the cards may be getting late in the mail, and you may be overextended on holiday commitments, but that all disappears for two and a half minutes while Andy reminds you just what is right about the Christmas season.
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