Manger Management: Rodent Rites (4)

Rat’s right, there’s more to rodentia than mouse tidings.

Dr. and Mrs. Strangelove treble through their own “Oh Christmas Rat” which refreshingly involves bats as well.

BearRon gives us a brief “Rat Greetings” which seems to be a detail from a larger mixed-media opera. Promising…

Then there’s the rat for the season: The Rat King from Hoffman’s ‘Nutcracker.’ He gets a couple fun song productions in modern adaptations.

The House Theater of Chicago has a reimagined version of Steppenwolf Theater’s musical ‘Nutcracker.’ Kevin O’Donnell goes all Brechtian with his “Rat King’s Song.”

Some strange European movie company made an even stranger big action movie entitled ‘Nutcracker in 3-D’ in 2010. Tthis starred Elle Fanning and Nathan Lane and made a whole lotta Holocaust fun for Christmas. John Turturro does a brief song as the SS Rat King. Watch for the electrified Great White shark to get better.

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Some of these miracle and mouse-tery plays come on country strong. Randy Plummer for one is hacking on his axe for his ministries and passing the plate for “Squeaky the Christmas Mouse.” Worship on, bro.

Mellow FM country (with a smiling wink) comes from Ralph and Red and their “Wilbur the Christmas Mouse.” It’s half kids’ music and the lesson is hammered down hard. But the production values lift this up to humorous hymnal.

At times, we ironically applaud the awful merry mouse songs. This still raises them to odd pop levels. WXRT makes a fuss aboutr playing “The Christmas Mouse” only once a year, advance-noticing the audience so that some of them can record and post them. Kelli Juzwiak’s isn’t the best sound quality, but i like th DJ lead-in and the nonsensical fan-video she improvs during its play on her laptop.

Taking a 180, some critter-mas celebration is Totes Serious. Suzy Arnowitz’s album of children’s book inspired songs includes “A Redwall Winter’s Tale.” I mean, like A Tale of Fire and Ice, Brian Jacques’s books don’t have a Christ, just a need to celebrate this time of year. Granted, the Great Being here is Snow Badger… but it’s a mouse’s song.


Even more elvevated is the music inspired by The Wind in the Willows written up by  Kenneth Grahame and Jonathan David Dixon and here sung by an uncredited choir. “Carol of the Field-Mice.” All creatures great and small, after all.

Manger Management: Rodent Rites (2)

A rodent may be a starter pet for children, so kids gotta dig mouse noels, yes?

Unless they’re insulting. Jack Hartmann seems serious about helping very young children develop. But when you add up the Piaget and Erickson and divide by Freud you don’t always get fun, you get “Milton, the Dancing Christmas Mouse.” This is why parents build sound-proof playrooms.

The Peter Pan Pop Band and Singers crank out another formulaic dirge of doggerel on the Snoopy’s Christmas Album compilation that was making hay off the Royal Guardsmen’s holiday hit about the Red Baron. This is “Jingles the Christmas Mouse.

Randy Vail gets more avuncular with his grandpappy singing in “Tiny the Christmas Mouse.” It’s slow and patient and repetitive in melody–because children are stupid, i guess.

Scarier is Rodd Rogers with his “Maury the Christmas Mouse.” This is from the exceptionally weird American Song-Poem Christmas  collection. It’s twisted talent and may induce nightmares.  Beware.

I’m more partial to crazy poet-ladies who earnestly sing Joan Baez style fantasy like they take it Wiccan serious. So, with reverence guys–i’m not kidding–harken and learn from Linda Arnold’s “Christmas Mouse.” Don’t you overeat, little ones.

Manger Management: Rodent Rites (1)

Ever Since “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” what’s it been now–like 95 years? mice figure prominently into the season’s greetings. But C. Clement Moore suggested they shut their holes.

Instead they sing/are sung to.

Seriously, celebrities get behind these.

Check out Debbie Reynolds and Donald O’Connor with “Chrissy the Christmas Mouse.” This is what good boys and girls listened to.

Apparently the little guy (disease carrying rodent) helping the big guy (St. Nick) is what it’s all about. “Santa Mouse” may be familiar to more of you–he got a gift for Santa! Burl Ives does his regally laconic version and it’s a real lesson. Bob Morrison updates this with rollickin’ pop flute. Now i can do the frug! But, it you want to really swing, let’s drop in of Jerry Vale (he of ‘Ciao, Ciao, Bambina’, ‘Arrivederci, Roma’, and ‘Volare’ fame) and really mellow down to the beat “Santa Mouse.”

Manger Management: not-quite-mammalia

Starting out our second half of the month, full of mammalian mystery and merriment, come the Austrailian versions of live birthing, milk producers. Weird with a beard.

F’r’xample: “Six White Boomers” by Rolf Harris, tell the story of a lost joey and Santa’s help–aided by his kangaroo team pulling his sleigh. (Slightly more singable-alongable are The Wayfarers with this DownUnder diddy.)

Not strange enough? Try to enjoy “I Want a Duck Billed Platypus fop Christmas” posted by John Brydon. Most novelty songs are parodies of traditional carols. A few are oddball originals. Then there is the parody of the oddball original. Got a special place in my heart for this, despite its deadpan, very dry take on humor. I mean, egg-laying mammals!

Manger Management: Avian Maria (3)

A world of cartoon ducks and parakeets sing their own Christmas songs,  but not about ducks and tweety-birds–only about their damaged character pathologies/speech impediments.

What about Nativity bird-songs, you say?

Here’s one i almost missed: Brad Paisley has an oddity entitled “Penguin, James Penguin.” It’s country comedy cut into the shape of a spy spoof featuring a secret agent bird. No, i didn’t believe it either.

Bonnie Whitehurst sings “Snowflake, the Snow Owl.” This is based on the children’s book ‘Snowflake’s Christmas Magic’ about how Santa has animal help to deliver all the presents. Sounds like pagan witchcraft with familiars, if you ask me.

Mourning Dove” purports to be a carolling hymn in the old style. The Stairwell Carollers carry on like they’re reverently upset about the whole holiday. Prepare to be sadly lulled.

Bend an ear, instead to The Ole Timey Down Home Country Red State Update Podcast’s tale of the pesky “Christmas Crow,” sung by Adrian Rose Leonard. Learn the lesson and pass it along. Or wait for the bird beating at the end.

Manger Management: Avian Maria (2)

Turkeys come and turkeys go, but the Christmas goose was historically more important to the solstice table. Turns out, geese and ducks are not so easily domesticated and forage hither and yon. More importantly, they start putting on the fat when it gets icy–and that’s the part you want to eat to survive a frosty Winter.

The trad you might remember is “Christmas is Coming (The Goose is Getting Fat).” This is an underplayed carol, so we’ll notice a couple fun versions; one with a folksy almost-Caribbean rondele rhythm from the Muppets, one a ’70s bit o’ fun by The Manhattan Transfer, one multi-dimensionally millennialism by Jon Kennedy from those groovy Reindeer Room albums.

Fat geese have an option according to Johnny Bower (and the Rinky Dinks). “Honky the Christmas Goose” gets musical, and of course helps Santa. That’s always a guaranteed way out.

That tasty dish of goose as a special treat around the holidays is ages old as evidenced by Kate Rusby’s “Christmas Goose,” a rollicking barn burner. The same tune by Katherine Noyes smacks of old country sufferings and blessings and class struggle. Merry & Olde!

The Korn Kobblers cornered the cornball backhills cornpone back in the ’40s (Spike Jones by then had lost his Homer AND his Jethro and their art form while solo (duo?) was too polished to be truly corny) and show it with their “Don’t Give Me No Goose for Christmas.” Grandma’s got some hands on her!

But you chust haff to check out Stan Boreson & Doug Setterberg whooping it up (with the same lowbrow humor) (yet updated to Anne Murray levels of parody) with “Christmas Goose (Snowbird).”

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Last Thanksgiving we visited some of the mighty fine turkey songs the Brits delight in at Xmas time. Let’s have some white meat, now,

Tony Aylward recalls the strumming ‘seventies with “The Lucky Turkey Christmas Song.” It’s melancholy, baby.

More upbeat, but eating the turkey ’cause i’m-a mission’ you, is The Fishermen with “Me and My Turkey (Christmas Song).”

Here’s another bird flew down the chimney: The Christmas Players with “The Turkey Song (I’ve Been Invited for Christmas).” It sounds like a muppet bit with a pretty aw-shucks ending.