Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Ask Mr. Music by Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: About few years ago you surprised me by stating that not since "The Chipmunk Song" has any Christmas song reached the Top 10 on Billboard's Top 100.

What about the very popular record based on the comic strip dog, Snoopy, a Christmas tale about him and the Red Baron?

It was played so much around here that it must have been high on the charts.

Kindly look into this, just to ease my mind.
—Julianne Malmstead, Detroit

DEAR JULIANNE: By all means, let's have a look at Snoopy's tale.

Taken out of context, the portion of the column you recall gives the impression "Snoopy's Christmas," by the Royal Guardsmen (Laurie 3416) flopped.

The point then was how Billboard's creation of separate charts for Christmas records kept them from being included with non-holiday hits on the main charts.

I then listed examples of singles likely, if reported as in the pre-Christmas chart years, to have been in Billboard's Hot 100.

For comparison, we provided the Cash Box Top 100 peak position of each:

1963: Brook Benton, "You're All I Want for Christmas" (59); Bing Crosby, "Do You Hear What I Hear?" (66); Beach Boys, "Little Saint Nick" (69); Andy Williams, "White Christmas" (81); Alan Sherman, "The Twelve Gifts of Christmas" (93)
1965: Jim Reeves, "Snow Flake" (58)
1967: Royal Guardsmen, "Snoopy's Christmas" (10); Becky Lamb, "Little Becky's Christmas Wish" (59); Lou Rawls, "The Little Drummer Boy" (78)
1970: Carpenters, "Merry Christmas Darling" (41)
1971: John & Yoko with the Plastic Ono Band, "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" (36)
1972: Singing Dogs, "Jingle Bells" (72); Leon Russell, "Slipping into Christmas" (94)
1973: Elton John, "Step into Christmas" (56)

Confirming the accuracy of your recollection, note that "Snoopy's Christmas" is the only tune on the list to make the Cash Box Top 10. In fact, it is the only one making the Top 35.

At the same time as the single (November 1967), the LP "Snoopy and His Friends, The Royal Guardsmen" (Laurie 2042) came out with the first three of the famous beagle's hits: "Snoopy vs. the Red Baron"; "The Return of the Red Baron"; and "Snoopy's Christmas." These three are the only Snoopy tales on the album.

More of a "Best Of" compilation, it contains just two holiday tracks, "Snoopy's Christmas," and its B-side, "It Kinda Looks Like Christmas."

With 1968 being a presidential election year, wartime hero Snoopy Dog tossed his hat, er, collar, into the ring. His campaign theme song, also by the Royal Guardsmen, was "Snoopy for President" (Laurie 3451).

His devoted supporters rallied behind this familiar chant: "some wear the sign of the elephant, and some wear the sign of the mule, but we'll hold the sign of the beagle high and love will shine right through."

Fortunately for Snoopy, when he needed just one vote to push him to victory, it came from his former nemesis, the Red Baron.

Like Forest Gump, Snoopy often seemed to find himself right where the action was. In July 1969, and identified only as "The Smallest Astronaut (A Race to the Moon with the Red Baron)" (Laurie 3509), the race to the moon was on.

Everyone knows whose spacecraft landed first.

In 2006, the Royal Guardsmen brought the indefatigable beagle back, this time with "Snoopy vs. Osama" (Winslow Music).

DEAR JERRY: When I was growing up my mom used to play a Christmas album by Johnny Nash. Unfortunately, I can't find any information or mention of it on the Internet. Perhaps I could locate it if you can provide the necessary details.
—Patricia Corum, Chicago

DEAR PATRICIA: The only detail necessary is having the correct title. Searching with seemingly obvious keywords, such as "Johnny Nash Christmas Album," probably won't deliver results.

The title of Johnny's 1969 collection of Christmas tunes is "Prince of Peace" (Jad 1001).

Besides the title track, here are some others that mom probably played: "We Wish You a Merry Christmas"; "The Christmas Song"; "Silent Night"; "Go Tell It on the Mountain;" "Away in the Manger"; "Mary's Little Boy Child"; "The Borning Day"; and "Oh Holy Night."

Now armed with correct title, you can probably find copies on eBay in the $10 to $20 range. Available as of this writing are pressings from Europe, Australia, and the U.S. Take your pick.

IZ ZAT SO? In the 1950s and early '60s, Johnny Nash was a pop ballad singer, similar to Johnny Mathis and Nat King Cole.

Among his top tunes in that style are "A Very Special Love"; "Almost in Your Arms (Theme from Houseboat)"; and "As Time Goes By."

Then in 1968, he went to Kingston to record with a drastically different mode, and becoming the first non-Jamaican to record reggae there.

Many big hits came from those sessions, including "Hold Me Tight"; "You Got Soul"; "Stir It Up;" and "I Can See Clearly Now."

Jerry Osborne answers as many questions as possible through this column. Write Jerry at: Box 255, Port Townsend, WA 98368 E-mail:   Visit his Web site:

All values quoted in this column are for near-mint condition.

Copyright 2012 Osborne Enterprises- Reprinted By Exclusive Permission