"Deck the halls with advertising"
by Tom Sullivan
A young DJ named George Carlin almost got fired for playing Stan Freberg's 1958 "Green Chri$tma$" on a station in Shreveport, Louisiana. Carlin had a knack for getting fired for being edgy. He played the extended song/skit over and over, insisting to station managers it was “the most moral record ever made.” Freberg himself observed, “My records are not released… they escape.”
The Atlantic's Sarah Archer describes the satirical piece as:
... a holiday choral jazz parody inspired by the narrative of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol. Updated from 1840s England to 1950s America, the 1958 track is set in an advertising agency where the company chairman is named Mr. Scrooge, and a client named Bob Cratchit wants to devise a purely humanitarian holiday message for his small spice company.Can't have that, naturally. Scrooge the adman will have no Christmas epiphany.
This kind of anti-commercial critique was all over the place during the economic boom time of the 1950s and ’60s—when “Green Christmas” came out. In Dr. Seuss’s 1957 How the Grinch Stole Christmas, the Whos of Whoville proved that the Grinch couldn’t steal their Christmas spirit, because it’s not a commodity that can be given or taken away. And in A Charlie Brown Christmas, which premiered in 1965, Charlie and Linus turned their backs on Lucy’s gaudy forest of pink aluminum Christmas trees, and celebrated the message of “peace and goodwill towards men” with a forlorn, nearly bare pine tree that sagged under the weight of a single ornament. This idea—that we need only one another, standing firm inside the eye of a powerful retail hurricane—is presented anew in some form each December, revealing something about a given era’s particular relationship with consumerism.Freberg's carol was more in-you-face than soft-focused and never got the play it deserved. Honestly, this is the first time I've heard this bit, and it's classic Freberg:
Profit never needs reason
Fa la la la la la, la la la
Get the money, it's the season
Fa la la la la, la la la la