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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Day 20 - "Up On The House-Top" by Alvin And The Chipmunks - 25 Days of Christmas Angst

Preview the remaining days of angst or review the previous days here:   
No Santa up here.
Just remember "click, click, click."  My little, sweaty hands white knuckle the red, wooden sticks.  "Click, click, click" that is all I have to do.

Tap two sticks together, three times:  THAT...IS...IT.

Okay here is the line "Up on the housetop, click, click, click"

Damn, I mean darn, I missed it.  Okay, I have another chance.  "First comes the stocking..."

Mom and Dad are out there watching.  I have to get this right.  So many people watching.  Mr. D is looking at me.  Okay, focus on the words, sing along, "One that will open and shut her eyes."

Alright this time I'll get it.  "Up on the housetop, click (damn), click (damn), click (I give up)." 
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When I think about my grade school Christmas programs this frustration and defeat is what I think of.  I cannot honestly tell you what grade I was in or if we just sang this song every year from K-5.  I vaguely recall being frustrated one year by not being able to do the clicks by snapping my fingers as well.

Add to my frustration that my childhood Christmas carol singing idols, Alvin & The Chipmunks, have no problems performing this song.  It is one of few songs in which Alvin doesn't change the lyrics or start fighting with his fellow rodents.  If even the chipmunks can do it right, why can't I?  You can hear their version here:  http://youtu.be/cZtNF0j3aYo.

Even though Alvin and the Chipmunks have been performing this song since 1962, it turns out that they are fairly recent performers of the song (more than 40 years of practice also explains why they are so good).

Benjamin Hanby, composer and minister, wrote the song in 1864.  It is interesting that the version of Saint Nick who visits each house to deliver presents was only 40 years old at that point.

Clement Clarke Moore introduced our modern concept of Santa Clause in his poem "A Visit From St. Nicholas" which was published anonymously in 1823.  Today we usually refer to this poem as, "'Twas The Night Before Christmas."  You can hear the whole story in the eight minute introduction of the episode of This American Life linked below:
http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/148/the-angels-wanna-wear-my-red-suit

So quickly and thoroughly had this new version of Christmas become entrenched in American society that only a generation after its introduction a minister would use it as the basis to write one of the most popular secular Christmas carols ever.
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Day 20 extra:  Here are directions for playing this song on ukulele:  http://youtu.be/YcoQwKSvVHM.  I am a long way from being able to play this which might tell you something about just how bad my ukulele playing is.

Up On The House-Top
as performed by Alvin and The Chipmunks

Up on the housetop the reindeer pause,
Out jumps good old Santa Claus.
Down through the chimney with lots of toys,
All for the little ones, Christmas joys.

Ho, ho, ho! Who wouldn’t go.
Ho, ho, ho! Who wouldn’t go!
Up on the housetop, click, click, click.
Down through the chimney with old Saint Nick.

[Come on Simon, you take the second verse.
Delighted!]

First comes the stocking of little Nell;
Oh, dear Santa, fill it well;
Give her a dolly that laughs and cries,
One that will open and shut her eyes.

Ho, ho, ho! Who wouldn’t go.
Ho, ho, ho! Who wouldn’t go!
Up on the housetop, click, click, click.
Down through the chimney with old Saint Nick.

[Theodore you sing the third verse.
Hoo-wee, okay]

Next comes the stocking of little Will
Just see what a glorious fill
Here is a ball, And a whip that cracks
And also a hammer, And lots of tacks.

Ho, ho, ho! Who wouldn’t go.
Ho, ho, ho! Who wouldn’t go!
Up on the housetop, click, click, click.
Down through the chimney with old Saint Nick.

[What do you know]

It's old Saint Nick.

Resources:

Lyrics
http://www.hymnsandcarolsofchristmas.com/Hymns_and_Carols/up_on_the_housetop.htm

"Up On The House Top"
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Up_on_the_House_Top

"Benjamin Hanby"
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benjamin_Hanby


25 Days Of Christmas Angst
Day Song Download/Purchase Info
20 "Up On The House-Top" by Alvin And The Chipmunks Buy the full album:

Buy the song:
This song brings back some personal memories.
19 "In The Bleak Midwinter" by Julie Andrews Buy the full album:

Buy the song:
Read my blog post for more about this song.
JULIE ANDREWS - that should be enough for you to want to listen to this song. Okay, not enough? Well it is a beautful retelling of the story of the nativity.
18 "I Wonder As I Wander" by Barbara Streisand Buy the full album:

Buy the song:
Read my blog post for more about this song.
Streisand asks one of the most enduring and difficult questions (which raises many others) in the most beautiful way. Perhaps this song is better suited to Easter but it seems to have become part of the holiday canon.
17 "The Christmas Song" by She & Him Buy the full album:

Buy the song:
Read my blog post for more about this song.
What is ther to not like about Zooey Deschanel on lead vocals of this slightly depressing holiday classic?
16 "Blue Christmas" by Vince Gill Buy the CD:
Read my blog post for more about this song.
Elvis or Vince Gill?
I recommend buying Vince Gill's Christmas album titled, Breath of Heaven: A Christmas Collection. I have only been able to find it available as a physical CD, however.
15 "You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch" from How The Grinch Stole Christmas (1966) Buy the full album:

Buy the song:

Buy the DVD:

Buy the Blu-Ray:

Amazon Instant Video:
Read my blog post for more about this song.
Perhaps The Grinch is just misunderstood, or perhaps he is pure evil.

Click this link to preview the remaining days of angst or review the previous days:  http://www.carneylentz.com/p/25-days-of-christmas-angst.html
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