Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: 'Tis the season to ask you to settle a point of contention for me. Among the greatest Christmas novelty recordings ever is Stan Freberg's “Christmas Dragnet.” Of course this is a take-off on the popular “Dragnet” TV show, starring Jack Webb as Sgt. Joe Friday.

The debate centers around a statement made in the liner notes in the booklet that comes with “The Best of Stan Freberg - The Capitol Collection” CD. It states as fact that “Yulenet” is the original title and that “Christmas Dragnet” is the title used on reissues.

Frankly this makes no sense. To tie in with the TV show it would seem the original title would have been “Christmas Dragnet.” Perhaps the “Dragnet” TV show people made them change the title but regardless I say they would not have switched from “Yulenet” to “Christmas Dragnet,” only the other way around.

You have the final word on this. We await your ruling.
—Jamie Cook, York, Pa.

DEAR JAMIE: This one is a no-brainer — I'm ruling in your favor.

All one has to do is look at the selection numbers for the two releases. From these it is clear that “Christmas Dragnet” (Capitol 2671) came out in December 1953 and “Yulenet” (Capitol 2986) exactly one year later. As you have noted they are identical with only the title changed (to protect the innocent of course).

Stan Freberg's earlier “Dragnet” parodies, “St. George and the Dragonet” and “Little Blue Riding Hood” (Capitol 2596), came out back-to-back on a single and went to No. 1 on the charts. “Christmas Dragnet,” itself a Top 15 hit, continued the TV detective lampooning.

DEAR JERRY: A couple of years ago at a friend's house I heard a really cute Christmas song, of Australian origin I believe. I am hoping you can identify it for me and tell me where to find it.

What I recall is it being about “Little Joey and His Kangaroo.” Perhaps that is the title. Another line they repeat is great white boomers, or bloomers. Does any of this ring a bell with you?
—Tex Dawson, Lowell, Mass.

DEAR TEX: Nestled amongst these fragments of your memory is the truth.

Not a boy at all, “Little Joey” is the name of the baby kangaroo in this song, which is titled “Six White Boomers.” (There is no reference at all to underwear.)

Much to Little Joey's surprise, for the Southern Hemisphere leg of Santa's annual journey the sleigh is being pulled by six white boomers, or large kangaroos.

One CD source for this Aussie standard is “Christmas Down Under - An Australian & New Zealand Christmas” (Christmas Collection CD-XMAS-19). This 1990 disc is made in Australia (Hughes Leisure Group, PO Box 148, Harbord 2096, Australia) but I did find one U.S. distributor: Australian Catalogue Co., 7412 Wingfoot Dr., Raleigh NC 27615. Phone: (919) 878-8266.

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DEAR JERRY: What would be the very first Christmas song to make it to No. 1? Or, to put it another way, were there any before Bing Crosby's “White Christmas”? We can't think of any.
—Sandra Kaymen, Southern, Conn.

DEAR SANDRA: Overall, I'd have to rate Bing's 1942 recording of Irving Berlin's “White Christmas” as the first No. 1 holiday hit.

The closest anyone came before '42 would be the Haydn Quartet's 1905 rendition of “Silent Night, Hallowed Night” (Victor 4511), which peaked at No. 2.

IZ ZAT SO? David Crosby (Crosby, Stills & Nash) is about the only celebrity Crosby that is “not” related to Bing.

Singer Gary Crosby was one of Bing's sons; bandleader Bob Crosby was Bing's younger brother; actress Mary Crosby is Bing's daughter; actress Denise Crosby is the daughter of Dennis Crosby (another of Bing's sons), niece of Mary Crosby and granddaughter of Bing; and singer Chris Crosby is Bob's son and Bing's nephew. Bing, Gary and Bob are now deceased.

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