Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Deck Us All With Boston Charlie

So, whether you mark the occasion by going to a Midnight Mass, waiting for Santa Claus to come, exchanging gifts for one day of a dozen, or simply going out for Chinese food, the main holiday of the holiday season is almost over now. Of course, we still have the new year to celebrate next week, and the music of the season will continue to be played in stores and shopping malls for some time now, whether you like it or not.

But for me, "Deck the Halls" in particular makes me think of a newspaper comic strip I read as a kid, Walt Kelly's Pogo, which was known for its brilliant and incisive humor, satire, and cultural commentary. Probably the best known quote from Pogo is, "We have met the enemy, and he is us."

But this time of year, I can't help but think of Kelly's awesome parody of the traditional carol, "Deck the Halls," which I first encountered on the comics page of the long defunct Long Island Press, the local newspaper for residents of Queens back in the day. I don't recall the exact context, but it might have been a strip like this one:

Or here's another from the Sunday funnies:

And there's more to the song than these few lines:

Here's what I believe is the complete version:

But carols are meant to be heard, not just seen, so here's one amateur rendering:

And here's a solo rendition:

And this is a very nice chorus, complete with visuals courtesy of Danny the miniature horse:

This one is less notable for the singing than for the backdrop featuring the comic strip at Fantagraphics Bookstore and Gallery in Seattle:

Finally, there's a jazz version by Lambert, Hendricks, & Ross that starts with a formal choral rendition and goes off into some scat singing. Here's a video that couples the music with more of Walt Kelly's imagery:

So, there you have it:

Now that sure is some joyful noise, wouldn't you say?

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