Weird facts on Christmas novelty songs NJ loves to hate
Nope. Sorry. I'm not going after "Dominic the Donkey" in this piece. Dominic has suffered enough, and in deference to the more than 1 million Italian-Americans in New Jersey, I'm leaving that one alone. It's bad enough these good folks have to deal with Columbus statues being torn down.
Instead, let's take a look at three novelty Christmas songs that people claim to equally hate.
Yes, that's Gayla Peevey at 10 years old in 1953 belting out one of the truly most obnoxious Christmas songs ever made. So she's from Oklahoma. And she actually did get a hippopotamus; two in fact.
The song was such a hit that the Oklahoma City Zoo thought it could use a hippo, and jumped on the popularity of the song to make it happen. They launched the Gayla Peevey Hippo Fund to raise money to purchase a hippopotamus and present it to Gayla on Christmas. It worked. She was presented with the wild beast at a big media spectacle at the zoo, which the girl, all pre-arranged of course, promptly donated to the zoo; and the hippo lived there for almost 50 years.
In 2017, at 73 years old, Gayla was back at the zoo when they acquired another hippopotamus — a rare pigmy hippo — from the San Diego Zoo. She got her hippo. Life imitating art.
Next, there's the weird backstory behind the very grating, "All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth."
That's one of the very first recordings of the (I don't have to call it "classic" do I?) annoying song. It's also been done over the years by a shocking number of artists from George Strait, The Platters, Ray Stevens to Dread Zeppelin, The Chipmunks, and The Hampton String Orchestra.
Who wrote it? That's the weird part. Donald Yetter Gardner. He was a music teacher at a public school in Smithtown, New York. In 1944, he asked his 2nd-grade students what they wanted for Christmas. As they answered, he noticed almost every one of them had at least one front tooth missing, and spoke in a lisp. He wrote the song in just half an hour.
Never intending for it to become anything, he sang it at a teachers' conference, and it was heard by someone with connections. Next thing you knew, it was published in 1948, and the rest is toothless history.
By the way, of all the versions of the dumb song Gardner wrote, he said his favorite was this one by Nat King Cole.
Finally, did you really think things ended with Grandpa after his wife got run over by that reindeer?
That song was put out by the husband-and-wife duo of Elmo Shropshire and Patsy Trigg in 1979, better known as Elmo and Patsy. Remember in the lyrics to "Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer" when Grandpa was taking it so well? Apparently, that didn't last.
Thirteen years later after divorcing Patsy, Elmo put out a solo sequel to the song. The painful title?
Trust me, this won't be pretty.
And you thought nothing could be worse than "Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer."
Opinions expressed in the post above are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Jeff Deminski only.
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