Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Jackie Gleason's All I Want for Christmas @ Christmas Forever

Christmas Forever Favorite Christmas Records blog has the 1969, tworecord set, All I want for Christmas by the great Jackie Gleason. Many folk only know about Jackie Gleason through his landmark sitcom The Honeymooners or maybe his occasional forays onto the big screen (The Hustler, Skidoo, Toys, Smokey & the Bandit) but there was a time when he was one of the kings of easy listening.

I wonder how many other kids found Gleason albums, while rummaging through their parents record collections, and expected a comedy album only to be lulled into a state of zen-like relaxation by the soothing sounds of E-Z style Gleason.

According to Wikipedia:

Throughout the 1950s and '60s, Gleason enjoyed a secondary music career, lending his name to a series of best-selling "mood music" albums with jazz overtones for Capitol Records. Gleason felt there was a ready market for romantic instrumentals. He recalled seeing Clark Gable play love scenes in movies, and the romance was, in his words, "magnified a thousand percent" by background music. Gleason reasoned, "If Gable needs music, a guy in Brooklyn must be desperate!"

Gleason could not read or write music in a conventional sense; he was said to have conceived melodies in his head and described them vocally to assistants. These included the well-remembered themes of both The Jackie Gleason Show ("Melancholy Serenade") and The Honeymooners ("You're My Greatest Love"). There has been some controversy over the years as to how much credit Gleason should have received for the finished products; Henry has written that beyond the possible conceptualizing of many of the songs, Gleason had no direct involvement (such as conducting) in the making of these recordings. Red Nichols, a jazz great who had fallen into hard times and led one of the groups recorded, did not even get session-leader pay from Gleason.