Saturday, December 21, 2013

Christmas With Lew and Norm



 As we ramp up to Christmas, here's another song for the season. This is an early Sterling Records release, early enough that Lew Tobin was still taking primary credit for the performance, above the singer (this is record #318 - by the mid 300's, he had discontinued this practice). But the focus really should be on my main man, Norm Burns (or, as credited here, Norman Burns). 

I wish I could report that this record, "The Toy Shop Mouse", was the sort that could have found its way into the hearts of millions, if only given the chance, and competed for time on Christmas radio stations, mall programming, and perhaps even TV viewers to its animated special. But it's not that sort. It's fairly tedious. The story is told in minute detail, over nearly five minutes, building up to a punchline that was no doubt supposed to be heartwarming, but actually just captures a mice-related annoyance. 

Still, it is Christmassy, takes place in Santa's workshop, and concludes with Santa's ride on Christmas Eve, AND Norm sings it, so it can't be all bad!



This record came to me in a sleeve with an inscription from the song-poet, one which curiously is mostly about how to make sure the record plays without skipping (a problem I didn't actually find I had to deal with, with this record:



The flip side of the record also features Lew and Norman, in a story of prospecting "Way Out in Arizona". The melody hews dangerously close to "This Land is Your Land" at times, which I guess is not wholly inappropriate, given the focus on one part of that Land. I generally love the reverb on these Sterling records anyway, and I really like the way that the reverb here makes the drumbeat echo so much as to sound like a chugging train.

On the other hand, a close listen to the lyrics will demonstrate that there is no story here - the writer introduces us to a prospector, then, for the rest of the lyric, tells us how great Arizona is, and how much he'd like to be there.



3 comments:

Timmy said...

I like donkeys & or mules. And you can sure see a fill of them in Oatman, Arizona.........

Sammy Reed said...

I just read the written comment about putting coins on the needle.
My gosh, this reminds me of those rough-and-tumble mid-90's when I was using a record player that was real picky and sometimes you'd have to put a nickel on top of the needle so it wouldn't skip. Sometimes I'd have to "bribe" it (as I called it)
with a quarter.

KL from NYC said...

I made it through the whole "mouse" song and didn't have the strength for the B-side -- am I getting less tolerant of song poems? Does that happen to people?
There's one very positive thing I can say: each song poem has at least something unique about it. I never listen to one and think "Haven't I heard this one before" if I hadn't.