Monday, December 13, 2010

The Hap-Happiest Season of All

In 1963, Andy Williams released a song that has become a holiday classic: “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” Since then it has also been recorded by Johnny Mathis, Harry Connick Jr., Amy Grant, the Muppets, and a bunch of other people who we forget exist the other eleven months of the year. What I find most surprising about this song is that, as many times as it's been re-recorded, no one has ever tried to improve the lyrics. They all just sing what’s been sung before without considering how dumb the words are. I think it's time someone examined these lyrics more closely than Donny Osmond or Gonzo ever did.

According to the song, one of the reasons the holiday season is so wonderful is that “everyone’s telling you, ‘Be of good cheer.’” Have you ever been cheered up by someone telling you to cheer up? Of course not. If you want to make someone smile, you do something nice for them or trip down some icy stairs in front of them. Telling someone to “be of good cheer” raises that person’s happiness level about the same amount as telling them you're going to drown a pillowcase full of puppies if they don't smile. In either case, they're only smiling to get you to leave them alone and go away... and possibly to save some puppies, but not because you cheered them up.

Next on the list of bad lyrical choices... jingle-belling? Mistle-toeing? Is “wassailing” responsible for this slippery slope? Just because someone turned a Christmas noun into a verb for their song once doesn’t mean you have to do it multiple times in yours. The guy who wrote this song needs a solid candy-caning.

As for "marshmallows for toasting" and "scary ghost stories"... I guess every family’s entitled to their own Christmas traditions, but are you sure you’re thinking of the holiday season here? Because what you're describing is camping… or possibly Halloween. You may be thinking, "But A Christmas Carol is kind of a 'scary ghost story.'" All right, but the song refers to "scary ghost stories," so name the rest.

And speaking of "the rest," "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" was co-written by George Wyle, the guy who co-wrote the Gilligan’s Island theme song with Sherwood Schwartz. Originally that song ended with the words, "...and the rest, here on Gilligan's Isle." And the rest? They only needed to mention two other people. That's like saying the seven dwarfs are Doc, Grumpy, Dopey, Sneezy, Sleepy, and the rest. They later replaced that phrase in their song with, "The Professor and Mary Ann." It just made more sense. So if you can change the poorly co-written lyrics in the Gilligan's Island theme song, then why not offer the same courtesy to a song that has somehow managed to become a Christmas classic?

I'd rewrite the lyrics myself, but I just wasted all of my time making fun of the old ones. Maybe next year.

7 comments:

Jacob said...

Whatever the new lyrics may be, there had better be a jug band reference in there somewhere. Jug band-ing is a holiday tradition right?

Heather Dixon said...

I think missile-toeing is a military tactic. Just a guess.

The Phoenix Farnsworth's Periodical said...

As always the researcher, I had to know what the "other ghost stories" were. So I did a quick search and found that Mr. Dickens actually wrote 4 of them. They are as follows: A Christmas Carol; The Story of the Goblins who Stole a Sexton; The Haunted Man and the Ghost's Bargain; and The Haunted House. So there you have it! Scary ghost stories it is! The End.

B Beach said...

I couldn't agree more with your sentiments, I've been complaining about the "scary ghost stories" line for years now. Thank you for verbalizing it. Love the post, love the artwork. Merry Christmas!

Tyler said...

I'm pretty sure that after your missile toes that there are some scary ghost stories to tell. But I'm most interested in the tales of the glories of Christmases long ago. Would those glories include leg lamp shades or pink bunny suits?

Ken Chandler said...

Oh by golly have a holly jolly Christmas Shane! And thanks for the laugh.

Nathan Lindsay said...

I hope no one notices that all of my elf drawings will now have sideburns.

"camping..." hahahaha.