"Deck the halls with advertising" by @BloggersRUs

"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.

A Capitol Records executive told Freberg he would never work in advertising again. "A station manager at KCBS-TV in Los Angeles, Archer adds, described “Green Christmas”—apparently without irony—as “sacrilegious.” But Freberg got fan mail from clergy members who thanked him.

By now, the anti-consumerism message is as traditional as eggnog:
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

There are a lot of talented comics and satirists on the circuit today. More than enough to get under the notoriously thin skin of an emotionally stunted narcissist who ran for president after decades of complaining the world was laughing at "us." But some, like Carlin and Freberg, are still missed. During some other period of political crisis (I can't remember which one), someone asked, "Where's Tom Lehrer when you really need him?" After this last week of turmoil, a little humor is a tonic.

Despite Capitol Records' threats, "Green Chri$tma$" wasn't Freberg's advertising swan song after all. I still fondly remember from childhood this Freberg pitch for prunes:

Makes you want to hold up a lit cigarette lighter while shouting his name.

If you find what we do here to be helpful in understanding what's happening around us in this wild political era, if stopping by here from time to time gives you a little sense of solidarity with others who are going through their days as gobsmacked by events as you are, I hope you'll find it in your heart to drop a little something in the Hullabaloo stocking to help me keep the light on for another year.

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As always I am immensely grateful for your continued loyalty and interest in my scribbles.

And I wish all of you Very Happy Hollandaise!

cheers --- digby

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