Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: I'm writing about one of the most recent examples of advertisers using oldies but goodies in their radio and television commercials.

This approach has been used countless times, probably to connect with baby boomers by featuring music of the 1950s and '60s. And, except for that French song by Edith Piaf which you identified years ago, I almost always recognize the music.

Now I'm stumped by the song in the current Volkswagen 2010 Jetta TV spots. Sung by a man, the catchy line I can't get out of my head is “another day, another dollar.” I want this record for Christmas. Though I've never heard this number, it can't be completely obscure or they wouldn't be using it.
—Shawn Gillespie, Harrisburg, Pa.

DEAR SHAWN: Another day, another musical mystery to solve.

This clever commercial is unusual in that the song, “Another Day, Another Dollar,” is the only audio heard during the entire spot. The company's message is conveyed by the scenes and graphics in the video.

The singer, and writer of this infectious tune, is the brilliant Wynn Stewart. The single, “Another Day, Another Dollar” backed with “Donna on My Mind” (Challenge 9164), reached the C&W Top 30 in early 1962, so it is only slightly obscure.

Besides the original 45 rpm, “Another Day, Another Dollar” can be found on the 18-track CD, “The Very Best of Wynn Stewart: 1958-1962” (Varese Sarabande 3020662312).

There is still time to add it to your letter to Santa.

Oh yes, that French song by Edith Piaf is “Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien.” eBay used it last year in a TV ad campaign.

DEAR JERRY: One year, more than 30 years ago, our local radio station played an excellent Christmas song by Jerry Lee Lewis.

What amazes me is that I have never heard it played again, especially because it is his only Christmas song and came out at the peak of his career.

Every year around this time, I wonder about this heartfelt song that time seems to have forgotten. Hopefully, you know the one I mean.
—Melanie Rodgers, Garden Grove, Calif.

DEAR MELANIE: The year was 1970, making it 40 years ago this month when you and I last heard “I Can't Have a Merry Christmas, Mary (Without You)” (Mercury 73155) on the air.

What stood out to me about this recording is how unlike any other Christmas song it is, by anyone. It definitely contains all the illustrious Lewis idiosyncrasies that make him special, such as the cry in his voice when he laments, “I've kept the old tree a-burning, with the lights of pretty blue.”

Yet, in what at the time struck me as a blunder, Mercury designated the other side as the A-side.

That dreary selection, titled “In Loving Memories,” about the funeral of a loved one, is nowhere as strong and should have been the B-side.

Since you wrote via e-mail, you must have a computer. So you'll be thrilled to know you can enjoy “I Can't Have a Merry Christmas, Mary (Without You)” every day of the year right here.

IZ ZAT SO? Fueled by million-sellers “Whole Lot of Shakin' Going On” and “Great Balls of Fire,” Jerry Lee Lewis became a first generation rock and roll superstar in 1957.

By mid-1958, after the media learned he married the teenage daughter of his first cousin, Jerry's bright star returned to earth and burned up upon re-entry.

Nearly 10 years later, Jerry returned as a country-rocker, or, as he describes himself in one of his hits, a “Boogie Woogie Country Man.” We think it means the same thing.

Between March 1968 and August '83, Lewis registered 55 hit singles, with one or more on the charts during each of those 16 years.

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