Saturday, December 3, 2011
The Grinch On The Record
The witty, tuneful songs composed for Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas! are one of the many reasons the TV holiday special has been a Christmas classic since its premiere on CBS on December 18, 1966. The Seussian lyrics are authentic Seuss, written as they were by the good doctor himself; the wonderfully melodic music, a perfect match for Seuss' satisfyingly strange lyrics, were composed by Albert Hague, who later gained onscreen fame as the music teacher in both the movie and TV-series versions of Fame. The songs were recorded with a thirty-four-piece orchestra and twelve-voice-chorus—and surely lyrics such as "Fahoo fores yahoo dores" from "Welcome, Christmas" were the most unusual words those studio singers were ever asked to sing...except for the rest of that song's lyrics...and the lyrics to the other Grinch songs. (Dr. Seuss later explained that the "Welcome, Christmas" lyrics were penned to resemble a Latin chant.) As with the ultra-popular A Charlie Brown Christmas TV special, the first half-hour prime time animated special ever (and the success of which CBS obviously hoped to duplicate by bringing the classic Dr. Seuss book to the small screen in half-hour animated form) an original soundtrack recording was released by the time the special aired, as evidenced by this ad (above; click on the image for an enlarged version) for the LP that ran in TV Guide the week in which Grinch made its debut. The soundtrack album was released on King Leo Records (a subsidiary of MGM Records, MGM having produced the special) in 1966, the same label incidentally on which the You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown concept album (which inspired the 1967 off-Broadway stage hit) was released that same year. The Grinch LP was issued in mono (LE-901) and stereo (LES-901), and featured the complete soundtrack of the special (approximately 15 minutes per album side). No surprise that Seuss's own favorite of the Grinch songs was "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch." One can only speculate at the delight Dr. Seuss would have taken in how that tune, with lyrics expressing how appalling the anti-Christmas creature is, has been adopted as a Christmastime standard.