The fourth song of Christmas: The King’s blues

I can’t say I’m the biggest fan of Elvis Presley, but he does have a few hits that I enjoy, including several Christmas songs. I’m out of my league trying to write about him, but his particular vocal style — one I think of as growling, snarling, and/or sneering — added a remarkable depth and tone to songs that could otherwise have been fairly boring.

Normally, I can’t stand the song “Blue Christmas,” but he made it far more interesting than anyone else has or can. It borders on laughable, almost reaching the point of self-deprecating parody without quite stepping over. As I understand it, there was even a punny inside joke hidden in the recording — the Jordanaires, his backup group, deliberately sang at either a different pitch or the wrong intervals (told you I don’t know how to write about this), creating what’s known as a “blue note” in their vocals. A blue note, for a blue Christmas.

The song’s amusement quotient served my family well one Christmas, probably more than three decades ago. Some of the other details are hazy, but that song remains indelibly fixed in my memories of that particular Christmas. It was mostly due to my brother George and my sister Shelley; I think maybe George had heard the song while driving over on Christmas Eve, and came into the house singing it. Shelley picked up on the background “oo-oo-oo-oooo” and I jumped right in, along with probably several other siblings.

By Christmas afternoon, we had driven the joke into the ground, but still wouldn’t stop. One sibling would start with an exaggeration of Elvis’ sneering, “I-I’ll have a blue…” and the others would jump in with outrageously falsetto “oo-oo-oo-oooo” responses.

I believe that was the same year Mom gave me one of those dancing flowers with some sort of microphone inside that lets it pick up on ambient noise. Whenever it “heard” something within a foot or two, the flower would jerk around with barely perceptible rhythm in reaction to the noise. The manufacturer’s intent was that the consumer would place the flower in front of a speaker, where it would continuously twitch and spin in reaction to the music, thereby “dancing.”

They were a weird fad that year, one that has been replaced in subsequent years with smaller versions that merely wiggle their leafy “arms” up and down. The original was the best, because it was bigger in size and in the scope of its movements. Whenever someone sang “Blue Christmas” at it, the thing would shudder and lurch as if trying to escape the bad impressions. As a bonus, the boys discovered it would react in horror to the sound of a fart, as well. That made for an interesting Christmas.

By the time we parted ways that year, the song wasn’t funny at all, but I still laugh when I think back on it. Every few years or so, I’d try to get it going again at Christmas, but it just wouldn’t take off. The siblings would just stare at me. Some moments can’t be recreated, fortunately. The flower, I’m sad to say, has gone to that compost heap in the sky. And the farting? Well, some traditions last forever. Makes for a “Blue Christmas,” indeed….


Lyrics:

I-I’ll have a Bluuue (oo-oo-oo-oooo) Christmas without you (oo-oo-oo-oooo, oo-oo-oo-oooo).
I’ll be so blue (oo-oo-oo-oooo) just thinking (oo-oo-oo-oooo) about you (oo-oo-oo-oooo, oo-oo-oo-oooo).
Decorations (ahhhh) of red (ahhhh) on a green Christmas tree (ah-ah-ah-ahhh)
Won’t be the same dear, if you’re not here with me.

A-and when those bluuue (oo-oo-oo-oooo) snowflakes (oo-oo-oo-oooo) start falling (oo-oo-oo-oooo, oo-oo-oo-oooo),
That’s when those blue (oo-oo-oo-oooo) memories (oo-oo-oo-oooo) sta-art calling (oo-oo-oo-oooo, oo-oo-oo-oooo).

You’ll be doin’ alright, with your Christmas of white,
But I’ll have a blue, blue, blue, blue Christmas.

(Copious oooos and ahhhs aligning with the primary melody)

You’ll be doin’ alright, with your Christmas of white,
But I’ll have a blue, blue, blue, blue Christmas (oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oooooo).


Stocking stuffers:


Day 5:

How the workshop was unionized

About Dan Bain

Dan is an award-winning humorist, features writer, emcee and entertainer from Raleigh, NC. His collection of humor essays, A Nay for Effort, has earned him fans from one end of his couch to the other. Why not join them and buy one? (You won't have to sit on his couch.) Dan will donate 10 percent of the book's proceeds to education. You can check it out at www.danbain.net; thanks!
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