Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Music of December.


Although I tend to think of Thanksgiving and Christmas as the Nightmares After Hallowe'en, there is no doubt that Christmas is a big part of any well-heeled Monsterkid's young life; I would imagine most of you who frequent this establishment have many well-worn and beloved memories of Christmases when the greatest gifts (materially, at any rate) were decidedly wicked, monsterish and dark.

I will be trying to feature some dark and cool Hallowe'en for this Christmas.

But for the moment, I think it's okay that our little pub has some new, mildly Christmasey music added to the jukey.

First up, what seems to have become a Skull & Pumpkin jukebox tradition -- another Vince Guaraldi waltz, this time The Heartburn Waltz from 1975's Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown (weren't expecting a Valentine's song, were you? Yes it'll be on the jukebox through February so deal with it!). I figured with all the eating, drinking and gastronomic experimentation that take place around the holidays, a song about heartburn was fitting.

Next up, I have egotistically decided to add a little ditty I arranged and performed myself (like Grim Grinning Groove, which remains on the playlist). Ten years ago I recorded a CD of Christmas songs for family and friends, and the fifth cut is Johnny Marks' The Island of Misfit Toys ( actually titled 'The Most Wonderful Day of the Year') from the classic Rankin-Bass special Rudolph The Red-nosed Reindeer (1964). I chose to turn Maury Laws' three-quarter treatment into a bossa/jazz thing, trading out the vocals for my chromatic harmonica. The percussion and children's toy sounds were performed by my friend Matt. I play everything else.

In 1970, song genius Leslie Bricusse and his usual gang of suspects created the incredible musical Scrooge. It's been a family favorite and a personal inspiration my entire life. One of the songs I most love is essentially the darkest (no surprise there)... You is the song Scrooge (Albert Finney) sings to the only love of his life, Isabel, as he and his younger ghost watch her walk out of his life forever. It's beautiful, heartbreaking, dark and perfect for a pub.

And then... and then I remembered I love Hallowe'en way more than any other holiday and knew that Louis Armstrong's The Skeleton In The Closet (1936) needed to be added to the mix. Originally featured in that year's Bing Crosby film Pennies From Heaven, this was recorded for the Decca label in August of '36. It's Pops at his finest, the satchel-mouthed storyteller blowing and mugging and kicking our collective ass back into our seat. A spooky, vintage classic.

And I know it reads 'Skeleton In Closet' in the player, as if spoken by an Injun Chief... the full thing wouldn't fit.

I'll add and subtract again, as always.

But for now, it's finally...


Winter begins to lull the world into a cold sleep, and we are driven into warm, welcoming and homely nooks to shake off the chill by sharing the season.

This is why we're here.

8,000+ visits can't be wrong.


  1. Love the chromatic playing. Outstanding. Thanks for sharing. Peace.

  2. I am humbled, thank you very much! Excellent playing yourself, Chet.

  3. I'm loving "You". (and YOU as well!)
    Can't wait to have you here.