When the movie musical Scrooge was released in 1970, I remember reading an article by the film's composer-lyricist-screenwriter (and executive producer) Leslie Briscusse saying that they'd done research and discovered that among all the Christmas carols written, there had never been one actually titled, "A Christmas Carol." So, he wrote one, which begins the film over the wonderful opening credits by the great artist, Ronald Searle (who also did the credits for, among other films, Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines.)
Here's that song, and those wonderful opening credits.
It's that as good a film as Scrooge is, Bricusse's research staff was lousy. Because 14 years before, in 1956, there was a live TV musical version of A Christmas Carol that was called The Stingiest Man in Town and starred the legendary film actor, best known as playing Sherlock Holmes, Basil Rathbone as Scrooge. And the very first song in the show was called -- yes, you guessed it -- "A Christmas Carol."
The music for the show was written by Fred Spielman, with lyrics by Janice Torre. It's not remotely distinguished or memorable, but has quite a few very nice things in it. And there, right at the top, first thing, is a song, "A Christmas Carol." A live TV musical adaptation of A Christmas Carol doesn't seem like a difficult thing to track down for a research staff working on a movie musical adaptation of A Christmas Carol.
So, continuing our holiday theme of unknown Christmas songs from musicals, here is the earlier song, "A Christmas Carol," sung by The Four Lads -- leading into "An Old-Fashioned Christmas" (sung by Vic Damone), from The Stingiest Man in Town. That the researchers couldn't find. But we think you fine folks deserve better... Which is why this isn't the end of the post here. But here's that other song first --
In 1959, which is a full 11 years before the movie musical Scrooge was made, the wonderful Tom Lehrer released his classic comedy album, An Evening Wasted with Tom Lehrer -- which included a song titled..."A Christmas Carol."
And again, Tom Lehrer was not remotely an unknown entertainer and songwriter. It fact, as popular as An Evening Wasted with Tom Lehrer was, he was probably around the height of his popularity. His huge hit album, That Was the Year That Was had been released only five years before Scrooge was released. So, how on earth those researchers missed this two songs -- and for all I know there are more, and even high-profile ones -- I have no idea.
Happily, we have this song to enjoy, as well...