I've posted this in the past, but it always bears repeating -- a song that blends both worlds of the Holiday Music Fest: unknown, yet hugely-well-known and wonderful. How can that be, I hear you cry??! I'll explain.
This is a song from the musical, Here's Love, by Meredith Willson, who of course wrote "The Music Man." It's based on the classic film, Miracle on 34th Street. The show wasn't terribly successful, though it had a respectable run of 334 performances in 1963. The score is inconsistent, but half of it is quite wonderful.
The song in question is called "Pine Cones and Holly Berries," sung by Laurence Naismith who plays Kris Kringle. It's very charming and is a lovely Christmas holiday song that is fairly unknown.
Now, as you may recall, Meredith Willson likes counterpoint. He used it a great deal, to much good effect in The Music Man, most notably with "Lida Rose" sung counter to "Will I Ever Tell You?", but also famously with "Pick-a-Little, Talk-a Little," sung in counterpoint with an already-existing song, "Goodnight, Ladies."
Well, he used the technique again in Here's Love. He created "Pine Cones and Holly Berries" to be sung counter to an already-existing, very famous Christmas song -- one which (I think most people will be shocked to learn) he himself wrote! When I say it's very famous and completely well-known -- trust me on this. And yes, it's written by, of all people, Meredith Willson. I won't tell you want it is, but will let you have the fun of discovering it when it comes in halfway through. (The song was not written for Here's Love, but in 1951. However, Willson incorporated in the score, much like he did "Goodnight, Ladies" in The Music Man. The difference being, of course, that this well-known song he himself wrote.)
The counterpoint, famous song is performed by Janis Paige and -- are you ready? -- Fred Gwynne! Though he utterly hated being typecast in what was his most-famous TV role, since it almost ruined his career (I worked with him on the movie, Pet Sematary, and we briefly talked about), I feel compelled to identify him in this context for the sheer incongruity of it, as yes, 'Herman Munster,' whose TV series came along soon thereafter Here's Love. (His counterpart enters the background at the 1:14 mark)
So, here then is a lovely, sweet Christmas song you don't know, sung in counterpoint to a famous one you do, both by Meredith Willson.
I've posted this in the past, but I thought as a bonus I'd embed a couple other fun, unknown Christmas songs from the show -- and not just the audio, but videos of a stage production. It's a pretty low-key affair, from the Tuscaloosa Children's Theatre, but they do a respectable job, and it's a treat to see the pageantry.
This first is the title song, "Here's Love," song by Kris Kringle after he mortifies the distraught Macy's manager -- the fellow with a clipboard -- by recommending that a toy be bought at the competitor Gimbel's Department Store, since they have a better price. There's a certain additional historic-charm to the song since, being written in 1963, it's fun to pick out the cultural references of the time, some which may fly past a lot of people, other that will evoke fond memories.)
And this next song comes in one of the story's famous scenes, the court trial. This occurs when R.H Macy himself is on the witness stand and asked if he believes that his store's employee, Kris, is really the one, true Santa Claus. And he sings, "That Man Over There."
And...okay, just one more because you've been so good this year. It's not a Christmas song per se, but it fits the season and it's perhaps my favorite song from the show. An absolutely sweet and charming song titled, "My Wish."
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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