Wednesday, December 5, 2018

What's the name of the reindeer leading Santa's sleigh?

No, What is pulling second.
I'm not asking you who's pulling second. 
Who is leading the sleigh.
That's what I'm trying to find out!  Who has the red nose?

Ok - enough of that feeble attempt to add a Christmas spin to the classic Abbott & Costello routine.  Why, you may ask? (He's in Center... no, no, no...)  Well, tonight's share is a Christmas radio broadcast from Bud & Lou, performed on December 12, 1946.  Side A of the album, titled "Christmas Stocking" from the Holiday label, contains the radio broadcast, and side B has, of course, "Who's On First" along with "Costello's Farm".

A few words about "Who's On First".  It's freakin' genius comedy.  You probably knew that already, but the genius really comes out after you've heard many different versions of it.  I have several A&C records, all with some version of "Who's On First", and it's just slightly different each time.  Of course the basics and the structure and flow are the same, but there are little, teeny idiosyncrasies, mainly led by Lou, because you never really know where exactly he's going next, that give each version it's own identity.  And frankly, listening to Bud keep up without ever losing a beat is amazing.  Go hit the internet and listen to several different versions and you'll see what I mean.

Another thing about Who's On First is that no one else can really do it.  I have this album by The Links (actually it's my daughters but she won't take it)(I call them the Will Ferrell Trio)(We thought it was the Kinks - boy were we surprised)(It's signed - it's harder to find The Links records unsigned than signed ones) and it has a version of Who's On First.  It's well-rehearsed, well-paced, performed with energy, delivered clearly, and it's awful.  It doesn't have a trace of Lou's manic energy and the spontaneity of A&C, even after they'd done the bit a million times.  Compare and contrast, my students.

One last thing - I had (he's passed now) a "step"-brother, raised by but never adopted by my father, whose name was Bud Abbott.  Seriously.  Eugene was his given name, but he was known as Bud.  Bud was 40 years older than me, and we never lived in the same home, and having Bud Abbott as a brother confused the heck out of me as a child once I discovered Abbott & Costello.

So, anyhoo - there's a lot of extraneous information packed in here tonight, so I'll stop and let you enjoy "Christmas Stocking" by Abbott & Costello.  Final word - there are a few scratches/skips that I could not repair during the transfer process.  My apologies, but that's part of the vinyl game....


  1. But you DO know that Abbott & Costello didn't invent "Who's On First", they merely perfected it. It's an old, old, old Vaudeville routine that was probably first done before Bud and Lou were even born (or soon after). Even Bud and Lou didn't know it's origins. It's so old that no one really knows who wrote it. Who wrote it? Yes. The guy that wrote it. Who. Who wrote it? Every word of it. Who? Absolutely. I'm asking you what's the name of the guy who wrote "Who's On First". No, What wrote "Take my wife, please." We're not talking about him.

    1. I didn't know that, but am not surprised, given the era that they became a duo, barely post-vaudeville but heavily influenced by the gags and routines from that time. Good info - perfect it they did!

  2. Thanks for the this one! Do we know anything about this Holiday label? I assume it's the same as the Mistletoe label. They have to be an offshoot of some other label since they only released Christmas music, and that's a horrible business model. I still occasionally see surprising albums reissued on these two labels, but always abridged versions since I assume that made them cheaper.