Christmas with the chipmunks

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, I was a geeky kid with my nose always stuck in a book. I had no clue about what was popular or in and had yet to reach the maniacal teenage phase of yearning for popularity. In other words, life was pleasant with me lost in the world of words. Then Christmas came, and I awoke to find a record player under the Christmas tree along with a half dozen 45s.

Though I wasn't exactly tuned in to pop culture via radio and television, the only links to a world outside my small town, I knew the records appealed more to my parents' generation than mine. With one exception. A little gem of a song sung by Alvin and his chipmunk buddies Simon and Theodore with some ineffectual blustering by an adult named David Seville according to the record label.

Wow. I loved that song from the minute the round black vinyl made its first few revolutions on the turntable. I literally wore the record out. Thinking back on the months that followed Christmas and realizing how many times I must have played The Chipmunk Song, I now see how extremely tolerant my parents, especially my mother, were. They never yelled, "Cut that damned thing off." (I confess, I wasn't as tolerant with some of my daughter's alternative or rap or hip hop.) Nor did they try to sneak it off the turntable and consign it to the trash.

Alvin and The Chipmunks was produced by Liberty Records and first appeared in 1958. The whole thing was created by Ross Bagdasarian aka David Seville. He was a pioneer with the multi-speed record player and became a millionaire by fiddling with those speeds. You may have heard of his first hit, a little ditty called Witch Doctor which sold over a million copies.

A million copies might sound like a huge hit, but it pales in comparison to The Chipmunk Song, actually titled Christmas, Don't Be Late. He wanted to use a gimmick to represent animal voices, and his children suggested chipmunks. In the end, Bagdasarian did all four voices including the David Seville character. He named his chipmunks after Liberty Records executives. Si Waronker became Simon, the good chipmunk; Ted Keep was Theodore who was kind of silly, and Al Bennett was the memorable Alvin.

You can get a copy of the original Chipmunk Song as well as videos of the subsequent television show or books, but the song remains the best of the lot.

Flash forward many years. Yesterday, my daughter gave dh and me an early Christmas gift - two CDs containing a Christmas mix she burned for us. Track 1 of the first CD is, you guessed it, Alvin and the Chipmunks.

It's really silly to cry over a dumb little song, isn't it?

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