Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Merry Christmas And Lots of ‘Woo-Woo-Woo-Woos’ To You, Too!

OK, so we all sing along with the radio in the car, right?
When we know no one can hear us, and somebody out there in not likely to have a camera phone, and we don’t stand a chance of ending up on youtube.com.
By the way, be careful out there. In most places today, you do something stupid and you don’t just end up on America’s Funniest Home Videos; these days, you can end up on the WORLD WIDE WEB!
Still, in a moving car, alone, it’s still safe to sing, be silly and, in my case, WAY off key and have no one know about it (unless you ’fess up in a column).
That said I have a Christmas confession.
Every December, I like to sing along to Elvis Presley’s Christmas songs.
As painful as it is for you, imagine a “Taylor Sings Elvis, Live And Nowhere Near Key!”
Sure, Santa Claus Is Back In Town is my favorite. I mean how much cooler, this side of a polar bear’s behind, can a Christmas song be? It combines Santa and a black Cadillac for goodness sake!
But then, too, who doesn’t like to sing along to Blue Christmas?
In that little ditty, I do it all (while driving safely and adhering to all traffic laws, of course). I cover Elvis’ lead, the Jordanaires and most certainly Millie Kirkham’s vocals.
Who is Millie Kirkham?
Well, I’ll be a lump of coal!
You guys don’t know anything, do ya?
Millie Kirkham is the famed singer of what is best described in print as the “woo-woo-woo-woo-woo” backup vocals in Blue Christmas.
What a claim to fame! To be able to tell your grandkids, “I sang the woo-woo-woo-woo-woos” with Elvis (yes, THE Elvis) on Blue Christmas!”
Now that IS cool!
(Of course, I also dream about playing the cowbell on the Rolling Stone’s song, Honky Tonk Women. Yes, there is one on there (check it out), and what the heck, I figure should I ever run into the Stones eating ribs at The Rendezvous in Memphis, I’ll have a better chance, with, “Hey, blokes, what say you let me play the cowbell on the next tour…?” than I will asking for a backup singer job.)
But back to Kirkham’s Blue Christmas “woo-woo-woo-woo-woos”, of which it’s reported she and the rest of the singers did almost as a joke.
In fact, it has been said by one of the famed Jordanaires that Elvis encouraged the backup vocalists to record it badly because he didn’t really want to release it.
“They said have fun — do something silly,” Kirkham confirmed in a CNN interview. “When we got through, we all laughed.”
But you know what? It went on to be a No. 1 hit!
So…? Singing “badly/silly” worked out pretty well? There IS hope for me and the rest of all the cooped-up car crooners, right?
Well, maybe not, but you gotta dream.
Anyway, the Blue Christmas backup vocal was not Kirkham’s only claim to fame. She has continued to have a long career, also recording with: Roy Orbison, Dolly Parton, Patsy Cline, Jerry Lee Lewis, Burl Ives, Johnny Cash, Brenda Lee, Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan, Perry Como, Carl Perkins, Rosemary Clooney, Little Richard, Reba McEntire, Brook Benton, Tammy Wynette, Vic Damone, Paul Anka, George Jones, Eddy Arnold, Loretta Lynn, Jim Reeves and many others.
You know…? (Warning! I’m thinking here, dangerous as that can be.) Actually, recording people trying to sing Kirkham’s Blue Christmas “woo-woo-woo-woo-woo” part and accompanying Elvis would be a great Christmas radio promotion, now that I think about it.
Sort of like the famed and oft-used “who can best whistle the theme song from The Andy Griffith Show?” promo. Except this time it could be, who can best sing the backup vocals for Elvis on Blue Christmas?
And let’s face it, the fun will be in hearing the ones that sound like me (or worse, as if that’s possible).
I’m betting there’s plenty of folks around town that are indeed nuttier than a fruitcake and ready to give it a try?
Heck, a trip to tour Graceland could be the grand prize!
Ah, but I am dreaming again.
Back to work. Merry Christmas, y’all!
(And meanwhile be sure to practice your “woo-woo-woo-woo-woos…!”)

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