Dec 24, 2012

Over 100 Absolutely True Facts About Christmas Carols

For the past week I've been publishing Christmas carol trivia on Twitter: @xmascarolfacts

Here are all the facts in one big list.  Merry Christmas.

  1. The French lyrics to "Twelve Days of Christmas" include eight chewing cows, three wooden branches and seven windmills. 
  2. Paul McCartney played every instrument and sang on his song "Simply Having A Wonderful Christmastime." 
  3. "Silent Night" has"intangible cultural heritage" according to UNESCO. 
  4. "The Huron Carol" (or "Jesous Ahatonhia") is considered to be the first Canadian Christmas carol, written by Jean de Brebeuf around 1642. 
  5. The original lyric for "Silver Bells" was actually "Tinkle Bells", inspired by a tiny bell on the desk of composers Livingston and Evans. 
  6. According to this web site, 12 of 25 most popular Christmas songs were written by Jewish composers.
  7. "12 Days of Christmas": In Britain, the lyrics are "my true love SENT to me". In the United States, the lyrics are "my true love GAVE to me". 
  8. "The Christmas Song" (aka "Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire") was written by Mel Torme and Bob Wells on a blistering hot summer day. 
  9. Meredith Willson, the composer of "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas", was once a member of John Philip Sousa's band. 
  10. Charles Dickens references "God Rest You Merry Gentlemen" in his classic "A Christmas Carol". 
  11. Gemini 7 astronauts Frank Borman and Jim Lovell asked to have "I'll Be Home For Christmas" played for them while they were in orbit in 1965. 
  12. Thurl Ravenscroft sang "You're A Mean One Mister Grinch". He was also the voice for Tony The Tiger of Frosted Flakes fame. 
  13. "O Tannenbaum" was originally a tragic love song. During the 19th century it evolved into a Christmas song. 
  14. "Carol of the Bells" is based on a Ukranian folk song called "Shchedryk", which originally celebrated the coming of spring. 
  15. Chuck Berry's "Run Run Rudolph" was co-written by Johnny Marks, who wrote the original "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer" song.
  16. The "Currier & Ives" mentioned in "Sleigh Ride" was a 19th century printmaking firm
  17. The park across from the Grand Hotel in Yarmouth (referenced in "It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas") is called "Frost Park".
  18. "Must Be Santa" is based on a German drinking song.
  19. In "Up on the Housetop", Santa brings one of the kids a hammer and tacks. Another child gets a whip. 
  20. "Merry Christmas Baby" dates back to 1947. Recorded by Johnny Moore's Three Blazers, a west coast blues group. 
  21. The first year royalties from Wham's "Last Christmas" were donated to charity after an out-of-court settlement of a copyright dispute. 
  22. "Feliz Navidad, próspero año y felicidad" translates to "Merry Christmas, a prosperous year and happiness". 
  23. Music publishers at first rejected "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" because they thought it was too childish and wouldn't sell. 
  24. The German lyrics to "O Christmas Tree" ("O Tannenbaum") aren't about a Christmas tree specifically.  They're about a fir tree.
  25. "Little Drummer Boy" was originally published as "Carol of the Drum", and was based on a Czech Christmas carol.
  26. Felix Mendelssohn composted the tune to "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" as a tribute to printer/inventor Johann Gutenberg. 
  27. Gene Autry got the idea for "Here Comes Santa Claus" after riding his horse in a parade in Los Angeles in 1946. 
  28. Fascinating history of the making of The Pogues' "Fairytale of New York".
  29. TV Guide named the Crosby-Bowie "Little Drummer Boy" duet as as one of the 25 most memorable musical moments of 20th-century tv. 
  30. "O Holy Night" was the second piece of music to ever be broadcast on radio, in 1906. 
  31. "Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella" is a 16th century French carol, originally used as dance music by French nobles. 
  32. There's no mention of Christmas in the lyrics of "Let It Snow". It was written in Hollywood, California. 
  33. The Grand Hotel from "It's Beginning To Look a Lot Like Christmas" is believed to be in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia
  34. Paul McCartney used an Sequential Circuits Prophet-5 synth on "Simply Having A Wonderful Christmastime". 
  35. "White Christmas" actually has a first verse about a New Yorker stranded in Los Angeles for Christmas. 
  36. Lyricist Richard Smith was inspired to write "Winter Wonderland" after seeing a park in Honesdale, Pennsylvania covered in snow. 
  37. The music for John Lennon and Yoko Ono's "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" is based on a folk song called "Stewball". 
  38. Richard Smith, the lyricist for "Winter Wonderland", was a newspaper editor before his career in music. 
  39. The "Holly and the Ivy" are Pagan fertility symbols. They've also been used as Christmas church decorations since at least the 15th century. 
  40. "O Christmas Tree" (aka O Tannenbaum) music is based on a 16th century Silesian folk song.
  41. Some historians believe "O Come All Ye Faithful" is actually an ode to the birth of Bonnie Prince Charlie, aka Charles III, born in 1720. 
  42. Chuck Berry's "Run Run Rudolph" was co-written by Johnny Marks, who wrote the original "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer" song.
  43. As far as I can tell, Lady Gaga is the only performer to release a Christmas song about oral sex.
  44. One industry insider estimates Paul McCartney earns about $500k annually in royalties from "Wonderful Christmastime"
  45. Jingle Bells was originally composed for Thanksgiving.
  46. Mariah Carey wrote "All I Want For Christmas Is You" as a tribute to her then-husband, Tommy Mottola. 
  47. Chris Rea's "Driving Home for Christmas" was inspired by a road trip. He was stuck in traffic in an Austin Mini.
  48. "We Three Kings" was written by Reverend John Henry Hopkins, Jr. In 1857 for an annual Christmas pageant. 
  49. The five golden rings in "12 Days of Christmas" probably refers to a bird, not jewelry.
  50. There's a statue of Good King Wenceslas at Wenceslaus Square in Prague. 
  51. It's "The First Noël", not "The First Nowell". Noël is the French word for Christmas. 
  52. Dick Smith wrote the words for "Winter Wonderland" while recovering from tuberculosis in Scranton, Pennsylvania. 
  53. Australians have their own version of "Twelve Days of Christmas" where all of the animals are replaced by wildlife from down under. 
  54. "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" was once used by Jamaica in a tourism commercial. 
  55. Irving Berlin, composer of "White Christmas", once claimed it is "the best song anybody's ever written". 
  56. "We Wish You A Merry Christmas" dates back to the 16th century, when carolers would sing in exchange for food or gifts. Trick or treat?
  57. During the Christmas Truce in 1914 during WWI, soldiers from Germany, France and Britain ceased fire and sang "Silent Night" together. 
  58. "Although Fairytale of New York" mentions the NYPD choir, New York's police department does not in fact have a choir. 
  59. Bing Crosby's last television appearance was in 1977 when he performed "Little Drummer Boy" with David Bowie. 
  60. "Silent Night" has been translated into at least 140 languages. 
  61. "Winter Wonderland" is frequently used by soccer fans in Britain. They make up new lyrics to taunt opposing fans. 
  62. Randy Bachman recorded a Christmas version of "Takin' Care of Business" called "Takin' Care of Christmas".
  63. "Jingle Bell Rock" was featured in the opening of the movie Lethal Weapon. 
  64. Charles Brown, the pianist on the original 1947 version of "Merry Christmas Baby", also performed the song with Bonnie Raitt in 1992. 
  65. In the Johnny Marks' "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer" (1949) it's Donner but in the "A Visit From Santa Claus" poem (1823) it's Dunder. 
  66. U2's Adam Clayton played bass on "Do They Know It's Christmas?" and Phil Collins played drums. 
  67. "Mele Kalikimaka" was written by Hawaiian businessman R. Alex Anderson, who wrote songs as a hobby. 
  68. The lyrics to "Sleigh Ride" never specifically mention Christmas, but do include mention of a birthday party at the home of Farmer Gray. 
  69. Brenda Lee was 13 when she recorded "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree". 
  70. "Good King Wenceslas" may have been murdered by his own brother back in 935. (That's not part of the song.) 
  71. In 1964, after performing "Little Saint Nick" on television, Brian Wilson had a nervous breakdown. 
  72. "Do You Hear What I Hear" was written by Noël Regney and Gloria Shayne. It was inspired by the Cuban Missile Crisis. 
  73. Most Christmas songs are written in a major key, but "God Rest You Merry Gentlemen" is in a minor key. It also contains the word "Satan". 
  74. "Christmas in Hollis" by Run-D.M.C. samples Clarence Carter's "Back Door Santa". 
  75. There's a version of "Twelve Days of Christmas" sung in Sussex, England where the calling birds are replaced by canaries. 
  76. "Little St. Nick by the Beach Boys" is remarkably similar to "Little Deuce Coupe" by The Beach Boys.
  77. Bing Crosby's real name is Harry Lillis Crosby. He was born on May 3, 1903 and died October 14, 1977 at age 74. 
  78. The actual lyric is "Deck the Hall", not "Deck the Halls". (Hall is singular, not plural.) 
  79. In 1977, Canada Post issued a series of three stamps commemorating "The Huron Carol".
  80. Bryan Adams' "Christmas Time" was recorded in Vancouver, British Columbia and was originally issued on green vinyl. 
  81. You can sing the words of "House of the Rising Sun" to the melody of "O Little Town of Bethlehem". (And vice versa.) 
  82. If you bought everything in "The 12 Days of Christmas", it would cost you $107,300.
  83. There's a traditional french carol called "Quelle est cette odeur agréable?". Translation: "What is that pleasant smell?"
  84. Darlene Love also recorded a non-holiday version of "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" called "Johnny (Baby Please Come Home)"
  85. "Fairytale of New York" by The Pogues has been in the top 20 in the UK every December since 2005. 
  86. Reveren John Henry Hopkins, Jr., who wrote "We Three Kings", was also a stained glass artist and book illustrator. 
  87. Wizzard recorded "I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday" in August, and wore coats and scarves in the studio for inspiration. 
  88. "O Tannenbaum" is German for "O Fir Tree". 
  89. Boney M's hit Christmas album was produced by Frank Farian, who later went on to create and produce for Milli Vanilli. 
  90. On the fourth day of Christmas, the original lyric was "four colly birds", also known as blackbirds. 
  91. The first five singers on "Do They Know It's Christmas" are Paul Young, Boy George, George Michael, Simon Le Bon, and Bono. 
  92. Back in 1990, everything in "The 12 Days of Christmas" cost $12,231.70.
  93. Elvis recorded "White Christmas" in 1957. Composer Irving Berlin tried to get it banned from the radio. He didn't like rock and roll music.
  94. Mitchell Parish, the lyricist for "Sleigh Ride", also wrote the words for "Stardust" and "Moonlight Serenade". 
  95. In 1983, the Carribean Island of St. Kitts issued a postage stamp honouring the song "Mary's Boy Child". 
  96. Darlene Love's recording of "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" was featured in the opening titles of Gremlins. 
  97. José Feliciano, the composer of "Feliz Navidad", also wrote a song called "So Long Paul" about Paul McCartney's rumoured death. 
  98. The helmet and armour of Good King Wenceslas are on display inside the Prague Castle. 
  99. "Silent Night" was composed by Frank Gruber to be accompanied by a guitar. That's because mice ate through the bellows of the church organ. 
  100. Johnny Marks, composer of "Rudolph" (and many others),  is the great-uncle of Freakonomics co-author Steven Levitt. 
  101. "Jingle Bells" was written by James Lord Pierpont (1822-1893). He was the uncle of American financier J.P. Morgan. 
  102. Bing Crosby's version of "White Christmas" is one of the best-selling singles of all time, with over 50 million copies sold around the world. 
  103. Lewis Redner was a real state broker, but also played the church organ and composed the music to "O Little Town of Bethlehem" in 1868. 
  104. Meredith Willson, the composer of "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas", also wrote the University of Iowa's fight song. 
  105. During his life time, Good King Wenceslas was a duke. Holy Roman Emperor Otto posthumously gave him his royal title. 
  106. "Winter Wonderland" first became a hit after it was recorded by Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians in 1934. 
  107. Corey Hart's version of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" was recorded live at Lansdowne Park in Ottawa in August, 1985.

What's your favourite Christmas song?  What's your favourite piece of Christmas trivia?

Dec 9, 2012

Great promotions: Aircraft carrier home run derby


Most creative Minor League Baseball promotions inspire employees of other teams to react with sentiments along the lines of "Why didn't I think of that?" 
And then there was the event that the Charleston RiverDogs staged on June 18, at which the sentiments were more likely to be along the lines of "I never would of thought of that!" 
The event in question, the 2012 MiLBY award winner for Promotion of the Year, was truly unprecedented: the RiverDogs held the first round of the South Atlantic League Home Run Derby on the deck of the USS Yorktown, a decommissioned World War II-era aircraft carrier turned living history museum stationed on the Charleston Harbor. Derby participants, standing within a makeshift inflatable batting cage, blasted baseballs into the water (where they were summarily retrieved by volunteers on jet skis). 
The RiverDogs' aquatic revitalization of a moribund All-Star festivities staple beat out 11 other contenders en route to being voted 2012's best promotion by readers. And for good reason, as this was an event that truly had it all: stunning visuals along with copious local and national media attention. It also had both a national sponsorship and philanthropic tie-in via MillerCoors' "Welcome Back to the High Life" initiative for returning American veterans. Oh, and that there was a cameo from RiverDogs co-owner Bill Murray (the team's "director of fun") sure didn't hurt. 
"If anything, this is a lesson in the process of thinking big and going beyond the ballpark," said [Dan] Migala. "When I first saw [the USS Yorktown], it was like the scene in Field of Dreams. But instead of seeing a baseball field in the cornfield, in this case it was on an aircraft carrier. From there, it was a matter of working out the logistics and finding a [sponsorship] partner, because this wasn't the type of event where it was just 'insert sponsor here.'" 
Enter Miller High Life, whose "Welcome Veterans Back to the High Life" promotional campaign seeks to provide veterans "with thousands of memorable 'High Life' experiences, such as tickets to professional sporting events and concerts." This iconic brand was eager to partner with the RiverDogs on this unique Home Run Derby, once Migala approached them with what he calls "seven innings worth of an idea." 
As Migala was working on the sponsorship parameters, Echols was engaged in the task of making sure that the derby would work on a logistical level. The USS Yorktown is now part of the Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum, and Echols said that the museum was eager to participate as they are "trying to find revenue-generating events, and always looking for ways to highlight the uniqueness of the ship."
Securing permission to hit baseballs into the harbor was a bigger concern for Echols and his staff, and in this regard he likely became the first general manager to deal with Harbor Police and the Department of Homeland Security while coordinating a promotion. 
"We had to work to assure them, and then the community, that we wouldn't be letting balls drop to the bottom, as this could endanger animals and the environment," he said. 
The aforementioned "volunteers on jet skis" took care of this potential problem, and Echols soon secured the necessary approvals from the various governmental agencies and city governments (on both sides of the water) that were needed to make the derby a reality. And soon, that's just what it was -- a glorious reality. 
Approximately 400 fans attended the free event, with their access to the USS Yorktowngranted upon providing a not-so-secret password of "Home Run Derby." These fans lined the sides and upper-deck sections of the USS Yorktown as some of the SAL's top hitting prospects blasted baseballs beneath an inflatable batting cage provided by InMotionAir. ("They sent me a blast email out the blue, advertising inflatable batting cages," recalled Echols. "Once I saw that, I thought, 'My goodness, someone wants to make this work.' Everything just fell into place.") 
American war veterans honored by Miller High Life also were taking swings beneath the inflatable cage along with Murray, a recent inductee into the South Atlantic League Hall of Fame. Echols reports that the resulting local media coverage of the event "moved the needle" when it came to ticket sales for the following evening's All-Star Game at Joseph P. Riley Stadium, and though that was the main event, this is the rare instance in which a Home Run Derby ultimately overshadowed the game itself. 
"It was a total team effort and a flawless promotion that was fun to be a part of from start to finish," said Echols. "The combination of an influential industry leader in Dan Migala, the Veeck flair and a national sponsor gave our fans and the All-Star players a lifetime memory, and that is something our entire staff is extremely proud of." 

Read the entire article... 

National anthem debate in sports continues: No anthem for a Pennsylvania hockey league

Posting this for my Algonquin College Sports Business Management students.  Each year we have a discussion on controversies and issues surrounding national anthems in sports.  Here's a good example for the "no anthem" side of the argument:
Pennsylvania Prep Hockey League Ices National Anthem
By Michael Popke — AB Managing Editor 
Citing the need to not waste precious ice time, the commissioner of the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Hockey League has discouraged the playing of "The Star-Spangled Banner" before games. Late last week, Ed Sam sent an email to the PIHL's 183 high school team members in central and western Pennsylvania conveying that message.

“The National Anthem should not be played only because of time constrains [sic],” Sam told Pittsburgh's CBS affiliate, KDKA-TV. “It’s not that we’re not patriotic, that’s the furthest from the truth. Ice is very, very hard to get and it’s not cheap. We’re talking $300 an hour sometimes or even higher than that.” 
According to a Fox News Radio report, Sam later tried to soften his admitted "poor choice of words," telling reporter Todd Starnes that "a lot of our teams never really played the National Anthem. But some of them did."

(Thanks to former student Rod Jacobs for sending this one.) 

Minnesota Timberwolves Christmas card

This Christmas card video from the Minnesota Timberwolves is well done:

Great idea from the Seattle Sounders FC: "March to the Match"

Saw this via Mark Bradley's excellent Fan Experience blog. What a great tradition.  Fans get pumped up for the game and their enthusiasm goes viral in the community.

The “March to the Match” is a pre-match ritual that inspires fan support and community unity. Fans gather 60-minutes prior to kickoff in Occidental Park and march to CenturyLink Field together in unison while singing and chanting the Sounders FC fight songs. The “March to the Match” takes place 60-minutes before each Sounders FC home match at CenturyLink Field. Comic, broadcaster and halftime emcee Ken Carson can be found at "March to the Match" giving away Sounders FC prizes. The Sounders FC official band, Sound Wave, in partnership with the Sounders FC supporters groups leads the “March to the Match” procession.