Friday, December 21, 2007

Musical Monkey Shines!


I received a treasure today.

The first record album I remember listening to as a wee young 'un was Walt Disney's Musical Monkey Shines. A collection of "western, circus, and nonsense songs for children," it features selections ranging from the wistful (the ballad of "Toby Tyler") to the utterly wacky ("That Crazy Place in Outer Space," sung by Annette Funicello). Fess Parker, of Davey Crockett and Daniel Boone fame, croons a few winners, too: "Pecos Bill," "A Cowboy Needs a Horse," and "Good Night, Little Wrangler."

I don't know if there's even a handful of folks to whom these old songs would have any meaning—though I suppose there must be a few, since the rare copy of the LP on Ebay generally goes for an extortionate price. But I have vivid recollections of my dad rocking me in his arms in the evening while this record was playing. In fact, those may well be my earliest memories (apart from the most bone-chilling night-horror of my youth, which I think I've related somewhere in a past blog; no doubt, I'll relate it again one of these days). My brother also has fond memories of the album, as we've both been actively seeking a copy for years and years.

I have no idea what happened to the old record that we owned all those years ago; I suppose it got tossed out with lord-knows-what other old relics. I had pretty much resigned myself to never hearing those old songs again, since the album seems such a rarity. But then, a couple of weeks ago, a copy turned up on Ebay, in a lot of 20-some Disney records from the early 60s. What a trove! I put in a reasonable bid, expecting to be outbid more or less immediately.

Nope. I won the thing. And today, the albums arrived. So this evening, I made myself the king of hot-pepper martinis, turned out the lights, and put that sucker on.

To some, I suppose, just bunch of maudlin claptrap. To me, it was heaven. Some of the true delight of childhood came roaring back to me. I could see my dad again as clearly as if he were alive today. So much power in that silly old music.

I think that may have been the best gift I could have asked for this Christmas season.

10 comments:

Kate S said...

How funny. Happy Holidays. :)

Mark Rainey said...

Thanks, Kate, and happy holidays back atcha.

My brother, my mom, and I sat down and listened to Monkey Shines the other night, and it was too cool how many memories that record brought back.

Dave and Laurel said...

I have great memories of listening to that record with my brother and sister. I think I can recall most of the lyrics even today. I've been looking for a copy myself. I have the album cover but no record.
Do you remember the "Woody Woodpecker Talent Show". Another favorite of ours.

Mark Rainey said...

I don't think I recall the "Woody Woodpecker Talent Show." I was very keen on finding Woody Woodpecker's "Spook-a-nanny," though, as that song has been stuck in my head since the early 60s and hadn't seen it since. Happily, it's now on YouTube.

Conrad Gaarder said...

Oh yes, there are those who remember Musical Monkey Shines, and I'm one of them. Those songs have been floating somewhere in the back lot of my mind for almost 50 years.

David said...

Wow, my sister and I talk about this album when we get nostalgic. We grew up with it too. Could you possibly send some mp3s my way???

Mark Rainey said...

Don't have any mp3s from this at the moment, but probably will eventually...

Michael said...

This was music my brothers and I went to sleep to many nights. Not sure what made me think about it but I just sang "catfish floatin' down the river" to my 18 year old and began wondering if I could get the music on CD. I googled Musical Monkey Shines and found your old blog post. Couldn't find a CD.

Brad Riesau said...

RIP Fess Parker.... I still have a scratchy copy of this LP. My brother, cousins and I, all in our 50s still break into song at family gatherings singing the catfish song and the martian tune and more...how fun.

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