Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: At the office Christmas party last year, a music question came up that I should have written about at the time.

But better late than never, so if you have the answer I will be in a position to look smart if the same question arises at this year's party. (And it would not be beneath me to bring it up.)

Of all the Christmas hits we hear year after year, which is the oldest?

One person said Gene Autry's “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” another picked Bing Crosby's “Silent Night,” and I went with Bing's “White Christmas.”

Are any of us right?
—Rosalind Darway, Lakeland, Fla.

DEAR ROSALIND: The person in the middle is the winner. In 1935, seven years before “White Christmas,” Crosby's “Silent Night, Holy Night” made the Top 10 with his version of a German tune written in the early 1800s.

Rudolph, with his nose so bright, didn't begin guiding sleighs until 1949.

DEAR JERRY: This time of year in Alaska, we stay indoors and watch a lot of television and movies.

Last night, on one of the satellite channels, I watched a very good musical tribute to Johnny Cash.

The finale featured Johnny singing “Folsom Prison Blues” and, of course, “I Walk the Line.” He said it was his first time on stage performing in 19 years.

At any rate, one of the guest artists was Bruce Springsteen. He gave a nice spoken tribute to Johnny Cash's career and influence, then sang a song.

Thus begins my mystery.

I am not very familiar with this man's style, but he sang as though he had a mouth full of cornbread. Hardly any of the words were intelligible.

Can you somehow research this and tell me the name of the song? I presume it is one of Johnny's hits, since that's what everyone else was doing.
—Cool Papa, Fairbanks, Alaska

DEAR COOL: I did not see the program you mention; however, I checked with a Johnny Cash fan who watched and recorded it.

Apparently the song in question is “Give My Love to Rose,” a Top 15 C&W hit for Cash in 1957 on the old Memphis Sun (No. 279) label.

Cornbread, uh? I always heard this style of singing is induced with a mouthful of mush.

Now, while we're on food-related topics:

DEAR JERRY: Not long ago, you answered a question about Shoofly Pie, as made famous in Dinah Shore's “Shoofly Pie and Apple Pan Dowdy.” You also provided some details about the recipe.

Much to my surprise, while shopping at our new Costco store, I discovered in their magazine, “Costco Connection,” a mention (and photo) about Pennsylvania Dutch Shoofly Pie Mix.

So now, if you don't want to mess with the from scratch recipe, you can get the ready-made mix.
—Cilla Whitman, Germantown, Tenn.

DEAR CILLA: Thank you for the tasty observation. This column may do for Shoofly Pie what “Twin Peaks” did for doughnuts.

IZ ZAT SO? Unless you have an original 78 rpm, one way to hear Bing Crosby's 1942 rendition of “White Christmas” is on the MCA (MCAD4-10887) boxed set “His Legendary Years: 1931 to 1957.”

The track found on millions of albums — and the one played worldwide annually by the media — is a modernized version made in 1947.

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