Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: As the years pass by, it's getting tougher to come up with a question that has not been covered in previous columns.

Still, I may have defied the odds and done so.

With the thousands of popular Holiday songs made between 1954 the end of the '80s, I can't name even one by a real live rock singer that made the normal Top 10 (not a Christmas chart). Isn't that an amazing situation?

By stipulating “live rock singer,“ I am ruling out the Chipmunks along with Bing Crosby, Gene Autry, Nat King Cole, and other pre-rock-era pop stars.

Can there be one that I have simply forgotten?
—Donald Vickers, Mayfield, Ky.

DEAR DONALD: There is one hit song that you have not forgotten. Of that I'm certain. You just couldn't think of it when all of this crossed your mind.

On January 6, 1958, “Jingle Bell Rock,“ by Bobby Helms, jumped to the No. 8 spot in Billboard's Top 10. The following week it edged up to No. 6, where it peaked. By mid-January the interest in Christmas tunes had pretty well faded for the '57-'58 season, and so did “Jingle Bell Rock,“ though it has returned every year since.

Some may consider Helms more of a country singer than pop or rock, but there is no question about “Jingle Bell Rock“ being a giant among all Christmas rock and roll classics.

You asked me to name one, and I have. But this “amazing situation“ you speak of is still just as amazing, for I can't think of any other non-Chipmunk, Top 10, teen or rock Christmas song during those 35 years.

Perhaps skewing the conditions is that Billboard debuted their separate Christmas Singles chart in 1963. This made it a bit more difficult for seasonal releases to also excel on their Top 100.

DEAR JERRY: As a joke last year at a New Year's Eve party, someone played “Auld Lang Syne“ by barking dogs.

It was actually pretty funny, and I'd like to buy a copy to play for my children. Can you possibly identify it for me?

Finally, what language is “Auld Land Syne,“ and what does it mean in English?
—Melissa Goodman, York, Pa.

DEAR MELISSA: You no doubt heard a track from the album “Howliday Favourites in Dog,“ credited to Top Dog (Sling Shot CD-80060).

A creation of producer Craig Huxley, this is a collection of 14 Holiday favorites with canine inspired titles such as “Santa Claws; Jingle Dogs; Little Drummer Dog; Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Raindog; and Fetch All Ye Faithfu.“

As for their woofing rendition of the most famous New Year's tune, it is titled “Old Fang's Whine.“

For Top Dogophiles, there is even a Barkfest Club for their fans. For more info, write: Barkfest, 15030 Ventura Blvd., Suite 1776, Sherman Oaks, CA 91403.

Surprise! “Auld Lang Syne“ is already in the English language, albeit the Celtic or Gaelic spoken in Scotland during the 18th Century.

The literal definition of those three words is Old Long Since.

Because that makes almost no sense, I believe something along the lines of “old times past,“ or “times gone by“ to be the modern equivalent.

IZ ZAT SO? It is very unusual when a performer's most famous recording is one that never sold enough to even enter the charts. Yet that is exactly the situation with Guy Lombardo and “Auld Lang Syne.“

At their concerts, Lombardo and his orchestra frequently played “Auld Lang Syne“ as a closing theme, and they did of course issue the song on records.

Probably its best chance for success is the a late 1947 Decca single (24260), which is backed with the orchestra's rendition of the seemingly incompatible “Home on the Range.“

Still there would be no chart position then, or ever, for a single of Guy Lombardo's trademark tune.

The one version that sold well enough to rank among the nation's hits is by Frank Stanley, though not many reading this will remember it. Stanley's Columbia release of “Auld Lang Syne“ (3731) came out 96 years ago (1907).

Talk about old times gone by.

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