Recently I heard a report on one of the cable news networks that said vinyl records are making a big comeback; sales are said to be higher now than at any time in the past 15 years. They outlined a bunch of technical reasons why vinyl sound quality is felt by many to be superior to all the later types of recordings. I don’t pretend to understand all the technical jargon, but I have to admit it gave me a great deal of satisfaction to tell my little buddy Stretch that at least one of the things from my “last century” culture is becoming popular again.
Stretch, puzzled by how something from the Stone Age could be considered better than his latest technical gadgets, decided to investigate. So he called his friend Debby and told her about a few of the old Christmas albums he’s heard me mention, and she told him that she was sure she could get him some copies in his size.
It all started out well for me. The first album we listened to was an Elvis recording. Stretch admits to liking Elvis, he’s even been to Graceland with us. We jived along with the King’s rendition of “Blue Christmas.”
Next we moved on to John Denver and the Muppets. Again, some very touching songs, and Stretch got a real chuckle out of the Muppets singing “Bring us some figgy pudding” while Miss Piggy freaks out because she thinks they’re saying “piggy pudding.” They reassure her that the pudding is made of figs . . . and bacon!
Then we got to the Chipmunks Christmas album. And after one round of them singing “Christmas, Christmas time is here” (you’re hearing it in your head, aren’t you?) Stretch was reaching for the ear plugs.
However, the worst was yet to come. Somehow, Debby had managed to include in Stretch’s collection a retro Beach Boys Christmas album. As soon as I saw the cover, I feared the worst and my premonition was correct. The album contains, in my humble opinion, the worst Christmas song ever: “Santa’s Beard.”
The song tells how one of the Beach Boys takes his 5-year-old brother to see Santa. The little brat pulls the pillow out of Santa’s suit, yanks off his beard and yells at the guy that he isn’t the “real Santa.” As if the premise isn’t offensive enough, the chorus is one of those “ear worms” that once you hear it, you can’t get the awful thing out of your head. It keeps repeating these phrases over and over and over and over into what seems like infinity: “Is that really Santa Clause, the real, real Santa?” “You’re not really Santa Claus, the real, real Santa!” “He’s not really Santa Claus, the real, real Santa.” My sister bought this album and tortured us with it incessantly the year it came out.
Just as I was reaching to pull the plug on Stretch’s stereo, he jumped in and told me that he had something that would take that terrible tune right out of my mind. He said Debby had also sent him a brand new vinyl recording, the latest release from a well-known recording company featuring a new century American icon.
Sorry Elvis, you may have been the King of the 20th century, but apparently the Emperor has taken over your throne in the 21st century. "Jingle Bears, Jingle Bears . . ."